I don't know how to ice skate. That's not surprising, considering I grew up in the Philippines, where the only ice you see is in freezers. I was in my late teens when the first ice skating rink went up, and I never got the urge to try it. To date, I have been ice-skating only twice in my life. The first time was ten minutes in Tahoe that ended with me and my husband bruised and cold and miserable. The second time was yesterday.
Yesterday afternoon we went to a skating party at the Palo Alto Winter Lodge. It was the first time for all the kids. I was hoping the boys would be content playing with some toys and watching everyone else skate so that Graham could take Natalie on the ice. Not a chance; they wanted to skate like everyone else. Fortunately, another adult offered to help Natalie out so Graham and I only had one boy each.
So there I was, out on the ice, only my second time ever, fighting desperately to keep my balance while one little boy was gripping my hand tightly, counting on me to be steady as he struggled to stay upright. Natalie was valiantly trying to keep up with her friends, refusing our help, wanting to do it by herself. The poor kid was slipping and sliding all over the place while her friends just glided by. I honestly expected my kids to give up within five minutes and watch from the sidelines the rest of the time. Honestly, I was hoping they would stop so I could stop as well.
But amazingly, they didn't want to stop. Natalie and the boys kept going. They loved it! James kept shouting, "I'm skating, I'm skating!". By the end of the session Natalie was skating on her own, with her friends, not falling once. By the end of the session, James was still holding my hand, but he was pulling me along. By the end of the session, even I was less shaky, more confident and more cheerful. And I was actually enjoying myself. Since then, all I've heard from them is, "I want to go skating, when are we going skating?".
I underestimated my children, and I am humbled. Seeing them yesterday made me realize that the difficulty and hardship were all in my mind, not theirs. All this time, we've lived within a mile of the Winter Lodge and have never taken them there; we've flirted with the idea of skating lessons but let it pass. I guess I just didn't think they were old enough, thought they would fall too often and get discouraged too soon. How silly of me to assume they wouldn't be interested. Why should my experiences and attitudes dictate theirs? Looks like I'll be signing them up for lessons soon.
I don't know how to ice skate, but that doesn't mean my kids can't learn. And that doesn't mean that I can't learn too.