Ice Skating at face value can seem to be an irrational sport, let alone an unlikely popular recreational activity. One willingly engages in navigating over a frigid, rock hard, slippery surface by means of boots affixed with blades. For the beginner, painful falls coupled with constant frustration and embarrassment often come with the territory. Understandably, this is a challenging situation to face, especially for the impressionable mind of a child.
Such was the difficult experience my 3 year old son endured as he attempted to master the sport. His desire to go “super fast” collided with the harsh reality of hitting the ice cartoon style (legs flew up in the air, whole body floated for frozen second in time, followed by a quick drop to the ice. Kaboom!). Although comical to witness, my boy was not laughing. In fact, he wanted to quit. To me, It was perfectly clear he first needed to learn how to stand before satisfying his need for speed. But how to convince this fiercely independent little boy to take baby steps again. Another Dad moment had crossed my path.
Parenthood on many levels encompasses a borderline absurd experience. The interaction between adult and child transcends normal communication often requiring pure emotion to bridge the connection gap. My son adamantly professed his desire to throw in the towel yet the look in his eyes told a completely different story. It didn’t help matters my back was screaming for mercy having supported his weight several laps around the ice rink. I seriously considered cutting our losses. The music endlessly droned on in the background. Skaters whizzed by us as my son and I remained motionless at an impasse. Then a small barely audible voice from the ice proclaimed “Dad, I can’t do it.” His words moved me to take action. I skated around him resembling a cross between Brian Boitano and a ticked off ostrich all the while shouting repeatedly, “Look son, if I can do it, you can do it! Come on, stand up..stand up!” To the non-parent observer, I must have appeared to be insane but such is the nature of parenthood. I noticed other parents smirking with nods of approval because they know crazy is part of the job.
Despite my antics, my son remained unconvinced. I needed a catalyst. Something fun to inspire him. A game perhaps. I remembered he possessed a love for counting. He’d routinely puff out his chest, face beaming with a smile as he rattled off his numbers from 1 to 100. That’s the brazen kid who would get off the ice. I just needed to remind him. So I asked him to play a game. “Let’s see if you can stand up and count to 10.” A few moments of protest gave way to a giggling participant. He initially made it to the count of 6 before falling and we tried again and tried again as we moved from one location of the ice to another. He ended the day at 22 seconds. We celebrated with a victory feast (okay, snack) of french fries and apple juice. As we left the ice rink he declared, “next time I’m counting to 100!”
Do you think I was a proud Dad? You better believe it.
Useful links providing tips on ice skating instruction: