Monday, March 9, 2009

Facing Fear

Bianca started ice skating lessons last weekend. She's been asking to learn ice skating for almost a year. So finally I signed her up for a tot class, ages 3-5, no experience. Last week was the first lesson and it was horrible. She was so excited til we got there and people started arriving. She began withdrawing and said she wanted to go home. When it was her turn to get on the ice, she was having no part of it. She dropped down to the ground, cried, said she didn't want to do it. Said she wanted to go home. I was beside myself. I asked her to explain to me why she didn't want to go on the ice. She wouldn't answer me. I know it was just fear of something new. I told her that I understood she was afraid but I was not taking her home. I told her she was getting out on the ice, that it was something she's been asking for and I expected her to try it. One of her teachers took her out onto the ice at my request. Teacher skated her out a little and then tried to get Bianca to get up on her own. No way. Bianca sat on her rear end on the ice and scooted back to the doorway. I told her that I expect her to finish out these classes. If she doesn't like skating at the end of the 10 lessons, then she never has to go back. But told her I will *not* allow her to quit without trying it.
When we left I was pretty upset, angry, flustered. All of the above. I felt humiliated that my child was the only one not going out there. And I felt sad for her that she could miss out on fun activities out of fear. Shortly after we left last week, she told me she'd had fun. Umm? Okaaaaay. Susan, my T, later explained this to me. Bianca was in a fantasy world about what skating would be like. When we got to the class, reality struck. After we left class, she went back to the fantasy! SoI told her that I was glad she had fun (as I grumbled to myself!) and got her all pumped up to go again the following week.
Enter following week, this past Saturday. She was not quite as excited to go as she was the week before. I'd prepared myself for the worst. I took her a little early so that she could run around in the skates (BTW, I've decided that if the sport were "carpet skating", she'd be on her way to the Olympics) and I could maybe get her on the ice before her class arrived. It worked! She didn't go far but I did get her to stand and shuffle on the ice a bit. Once her class arrived, she was hesitant but I encouraged her and off she went. She stayed pretty close to one of the teachers most of the lesson but there were several times she was teetering out there all by herself. I cried with joy and pride. I'm so proud of her for doing something she was afraid to try. And she had so much fun! I was clapping and making all kinds of ridiculous cheerleading gestures from behind the glass to show her how proud I was. Then she'd take a few steps and turn around to give me this plump, purple-mittened, thumbs-up! Too cute.
When she came off the ice, I picked her up and swung her around. I loved her up, hugging and praising her all over the place. I'd told her I would buy her a pack of bubblegum if she went out on the ice at this lesson. Well, I also ended up taking her out and bought her pink ice skates! So she's been telling everyone how she ice skated all by herself! I say "tell so-&-so what you got!" What does she say? "GUM!" How about the skates, sister???? "Oh yeah, and pink ice skates, too!"
In any case, I can learn alot from my own advice to her and from her courage. Sometimes facing a fear can be debilitating until you just make up your mind to go for it. And then how freeing it can be!


mile191 said...

Wow, what a beautiful experience, and your expression shows your beauty through writing. What an amazing mother you are. Thanks for sharing this story. If you get the chance to read my post today I am asking you, my friends here, to read my aunts experience with loss and support her through your comments. She has had an awful time with this, but is so amazing and wonderful to open up and share her experience. Hugs to you and thanks if you can read. Comment on Women Doing More, if you read it.

Shannon said...

What a great story... made me both cheer and tear up a little!

Pink skates? I would've loved to have those when I was Bianca's age. You are such a great mom, Kim!

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful post of a mother's resiliant love. Many parents will let their child call all the shots. It is difficult to "make" them follow through.

It is also scary when we realize that we've made our child's perceived failure about our embarrassment. Even scarier when we act that way and don't recognise it.

Congrats and good luck on making it to the Olympics! lol

Kim said...

Thanks for the comments. I was so worried that first week that I was "being mean" or going to scar her!

Shannon, have you started a new blog yet? I keep checking!