Let me start by stating that I am not a graceful or athletic person. I go to step aerobics and yoga, but I never get any better at either one. In aerobics, I actually have to count my steps just to keep vaguely in synch with the rest of the class. In yoga, my skills are not exactly legendary either. I was attempting this arm balance in class last week (called the Crow Pose):
Annnnnnd after balancing for about .000078 seconds, I pitched forward onto my face and then rolled onto one shoulder. I ended up off my mat and well into the middle of the room. "Ha ha!" I said (since everyone was looking at me). "So close!" Because obviously I was not even vaguely close.
In general, I am fairly clumsy and often have bruises I can't explain. As I've already made abundantly clear, I don't have what you'd call athletic prowess. However, I get out there. I ride my bike, I go to classes, I hit the treadmill at the gym.
My daughter, however, will not "get out there." If she doesn't believe she has an innate ability to do something, she will not try. I'm convinced this is why she didn't walk until she was 14 1/2 months old. She never practiced walking - she just waited until she knew she could. In the intervening years, we have purchased the following items for her: roller skates (Barbie ones that fit over her shoes), a scooter, a tricycle, and a two-wheeled bike with training wheels. The number of these items she has used: zero. Well, I exaggerate. She has used most of the items once or twice. The skates were the worst purchase. We got them on her once, she fell down once, and she was done - permanently (at least as far as skating in our driveway goes).
I took A to the local roller skating rink on Saturday. We donned our rental skates and then completed one lap, with me holding her hand. She gripped the wall but still would have fallen multiple times had I not been holding her hand. She was getting more frustrated by the second. I then got my hands on a training contraption in case that might help. It's a triangular thing made out of PVC piping with wheels on the bottom. The idea is that a kid can keep his/her balance while learning to keep their feet under them. We tried using the training thingamajig for the next lap. I thought she was doing fine but she couldn't go as fast as the other kids and she got mad. "I want to go home!" she shrieked through her tears.
I brought her off the skating floor and tracked down the rink's owner, Mary. Mary has owned the place since the Vietnam War. No exaggeration this time - the rink's decor bears this out. She is a fit little lady who genuinely loves children, and roller skates every day of her life. I asked her if she had any tips for me. I hated to see my daughter give up on skating and never want to come back. She nodded, laced up her skates, and took the kid out on the floor. She asked me to stay behind and wait by the lockers. I watched as Mary worked so patiently with my daughter, teaching her to take tiny steps. When they came back, I asked A if she still wanted to go home. She seemed less stressed than before, but nodded. I thanked the owner for working with her.
I guess I'm just disappointed because I like skating and want her to like it too. How do I convince her that eventually, she'll have to fall down? And that this won't be the worst thing ever to happen to a kid? Summer is coming and I want her to get outside and DO stuff. It's just interesting to me that someone with such advanced social skills is so skittish in this one particular area.
As we were leaving, she said, "Next Saturday let's just go to a movie."