There is a lot to be said about fear, as a child I was taught to do things even if I was afraid. What I didn’t realize until many years later is that it was perfectly alright to be afraid. It was what you did with it that was important.
Let’s transfer that into a lesson for an eight year old girl on a skateboard. How do you get a child to overcome their fear? You go out there and do it yourself.
This past weekend is exactly what I did. We took the scooter and skateboard to practice on. At first she told me, “Mom, I don’t want to ride my skateboard, I’m scared.”
I get that, I know what it means to be afraid.Unfortunately for my children there are times where I am an adrenaline junky. “Okay honey, I absolutely understand that you’re afraid. Why don’t you let Mom ride the skateboard and you can ride the scooter. If you want to change your mind later, you sure can.”
“Okay Mom, that sounds good.” she said as we loaded them into the truck. Cool! This is where I start some of my lessons with my daughter. Sometimes she just can’t be pushed and sometimes she does.This was a show and tell lesson. Keeping in mind that I haven’t been on a skateboard in twenty years, give or take, the first thoughts that crossed my mind was: A, am I going to get fucked up and not be able to walk afterward, B. Is she going to see just how terrified I am? C. can I actually still skateboard?
We get loaded in our old Ford F-150 and get going. As we’re riding in the truck I give myself the old I can totally do this! pep talk. This didn’t mean I wasn’t afraid, it just meant that I was going to kick my fear in the balls and keep riding. As we get to where we’re going, we get our rides out and she takes off on her scooter. Cool, my new thought is, Let’s let her get warmed up on the scooter. Then if she wants to switch over to the skateboard it’s going to be easier.
I start following her on foot when I get the, “Mom, ride my skateboard with me.”. I don’t care who you are, saying no to that awesome invitation is cowardly.
Do I really have my balance after twenty years? Let’s find out. I stand on the board for a moment and do the first two steps. This turns into a wiggle that gets the board moving slowly at first. I hit a decent sized rock and jump off, Vivian laughs at me. So this is where I realize that we’ve started to clear the air. She is going to get comfortable watching Mom. This is the confidence booster I need to help push her along. So what if I get hurt from riding the board? This is where I get back up after doing the ‘Peter Griffin’ from Family Guy for a few moments and show her that I am invincible.
She decides that she wants to take a crack at it, “Please do, I’ll ride the scooter for a time. I’ll be right with you.” I tell her as we switch.
The eight years that we have been together I try my best to show her that I mean business instead of just telling her. She looks at me, “Mom, is it alright if I sit on my bottom and get my balance?”. Of course my reply to her is, “Absolutely you can.”
We’re still in baby steps. Time to show her my word is good.
While she is doing this she starts getting a feel for the board and the way it moves. While I’m riding next to her I keep giving her the little tips that I had learned as a thirteen year old. She keeps relaxing.
I know without a doubt that when you get on something that has wheels you’re going to get fucked-up. I didn’t want to, but if it was going to happen I wanted my daughter to see it. My time with this was coming.
We switched back to her riding the scooter and me riding the skateboard. When we switched back to the rides we started with she takes off in a race without telling me. Have I gotten my sea legs back yet? I guess it’s debatable but let’s give it a crack. Literally. Not realizing that she had went and hid behind the truck.
This is where my comic relief takes over and my twin Grace enters Stage 2. I have always belonged on a longboard, just relaxing. This is where my zen is at. Not paying attention to myself for a moment caught in the middle of the zen. I realize as I’m just coasting down the road that I may be going a little bit fast for the lack of practice in these twenty years.
When my twin Grace attempts to jump off the board, here was the magic moment I knew was coming. As I spilled onto the pavement, my left foot decided to stay with the board while my right foot started to glue itself to the pavement. Never being able to do the sideways splits, I became very limber for the moment and came down hard on my bottom, mid splits.
Here I was, all by myself, groaning in pain. When the shock wore off I had lost my right shoe, I was sitting there doing the splits without the child I was trying to teach how to be brave. If it would have been a movie this is where you would cue the crickets and the credits.