So I've spoken on here about ice skating before. My son is interested in all things sport, and he is amazingly still interested in ice skating and hockey, even though it's a little more advanced (and involves more balance) than a lot of his other sports pursuits. But let me speak a little more about what my son has shown me.
The other day, it was in the seventies and I knew the ice skating rink in the middle of our town was open. Perfect, I thought! If I was going to take my son skating and have to support his weight, what better way to do it than in a T-shirt and without all the winter gear you normally need. We went down to the ice skating rink and found out they didn't open for another 2 hours. My son had been really excited, and I felt really bad about not knowing the hours (apparently they change dependent on if school is in session).
I then told my son if he took a good nap, we would go after the nap. He woke up from the nap and said he wanted to go, "tomorrow". I knew "tomorrow" we were supposed to have gale force winds and it was going to be 30 degrees colder. I called up my husband and we made an impulsive plan. I took my son to the skating rink and he immediately was excited again. I couldn't put on his skates or mine, fast enough. He was actually able to walk (and run) in his double-bladed skates. We went through a period of "wear a helmet, helmet doesn't fit, try another helmet". Once that was settled, we embarked for several trips around the ice. Staff members of the rink encouraged my son and I don't remember how many teenagers remarked on how cute he was. One girl came over and grabbed his hand and was explaining to him to put his arms out like an airplane and bend his knees. He didn't know what bend his knees meant, so I explained, "like sliding into first base" At one point, he refused to put his feet down and I was skating around with about 30 pounds dangling between my legs. Somewhere at this point, I teetered forward. Determined not to fall on top of my three year old, complete with ice blades, I simultaneously threw my weight backwards and lifted him in the air. He thought it was the best thing ever. I wasn't quite as thrilled about totally falling on the ice (I'm actually a decent skater). A teenage boy came over and held him so I could right myself. He giggled. "Falling is fun!"
He then pushed my hands away and began to show a little bit of independence. At one point, he whispered, "So if I fall I'm not going to break the ice, right?" I told him with a laugh, "if your mommy fell and didn't break the ice, you definitely can't- this ice doesn't break and you don't have to worry about that."
As he began skating on his own, he told me he didn't want to skate on the edge, but wanted to skate in the middle, "with the fast boys." He then went into trying to be a "radio announcer" and started calling plays like he was watching a hockey game (and participating). As he skated away from me, I had a mix of fear and pride. I was afraid and wanted to catch him when he fell, but was so proud he was doing it on his own and not giving into fear. Each time I tried to move closer, to catch him, I told myself, "this is what growing up is- you give him space to learn and as long as he's not going to kill himself, you watch". This was the self-talk I had to keep giving myself- it's so hard to watch a kid when you know they might fall, but they will never grow if you don't give them a little independence and space to learn on their own. A hard parenting lesson. At one point I almost cried, I was so in awe of his fearlessness and bravery. People commented who had been watching us skate for a while how he looked like he was doing so much better. I told him I was happy that for once I was enjoying a sport with him that I was actually BETTER than his Daddy at. He laughed at that. I told him, "Your Daddy can have playing baseball with you and I will take ice skating and hockey any day."
Fearlessness, getting up after you fall and how to be a parent who gives their kid space to learn; these were just some of those things I learned while ice skating, and bonding with my 3 year old. Priceless.