Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Learning to let go: Another chapter in a Father's dilemna

I signed my daughter, Bronwyn up for roller skating lessons. Last Saturday was the first lesson. We arrived early in order to get her fitted for skates. It was a bit chaotic as there were a number of people there and they couldn't seem to find the right size for my daughter. We finally got her a set just as they were kicking off the lessons.

I held her hand as I got her toward the center area where they had gathered the group for instruction, to say she was adjusting to being on wheels would be an understatement but we made it there. (she only fell once)

I decided at that point, that I was going to take a large step back and let her engage in the instruction. It's hard to describe the feelings I was experiencing. This was a class of 30-40 students and 2-3 instructors, and it's in a fairly large roller rink. I've mentioned previously that Bronwyn can have lapses in attention, so I was curious to see how it would go. She did well paying attention to how to get up properly and how to fall properly. They then took them on the carpet and had them march in their skates, she was first in line for the first trip around. (Picture below was a second or third trip).

She did pretty well starting out, marching and keeping pace, as she tried to increase speed, she wiped out quite a bit. I think she was getting concerned about keeping pace and trying to hard to do better too quickly. (A trait she shares with her father)

It was agonizing watching her fall, and my first instinct was to run over and assist her, it didn't help that the amount of falls continued to increase. I watched as other parents walked side by side with their child and held them up rather then letting them fall. In some cases both parents aligned themselves on both sides of the child and practically carried them through the walk thru. I can understand why they did it, but I don't agree with it.

I viewed this as a good way for Bronwyn and I to learn. I need to learn over time to let go and let her experience life on her own. She needs to learn how to overcome struggles by herself. This in my opinion is the perfect environment for this. She experiences something difficult that she needs to overcome and I have to allow it, but I'm close enough to intervene if absolutely necessary. (It isn't a bad thing that the average result of a beginning roller skating session would be a sore behind, although there is the possibility she could hurt herself more seriously, it's a rather small chance in my opinion)

This means I sat for an hour in a highly anxious state watching my daughter fall multiple times and silently berating myself for letting it continue. After the lesson was over, the children were allowed to free skate and Bronwyn indicated she wanted to. The original plan was for me to rent a pair of skates, but given she was still struggling with it, I decided to save that for another week. I helped set her up on a course where she would skate across a quarter of the rink using the half wall if necessary, get off and then skate on the carpet back to her starting point.

She took off and while moving fairly slowly at first, began to pick up speed and move further away from the wall. I will say I did have to intervene a couple times as being a Sagitarius, she sometimes ignores the flow of traffic and heads off on her own course, which usually meant against the flow of oncoming skaters. She also had one fall where she really took a tumble and burst into tears, that I grabbed her from the floor on and brought her back to the table. I could tell at this point she was very tired and possibly had enough for the day, but I really didn't want her to end on her fall. I was debating with myself how I was going to handle getting her back on the floor when she told me she wanted to skate more and was ready to go again, she went for another hour.

Words cannot capture how proud of her I was for the day, while she has a long way to go, she took the direction of the instructors well, continued to apply herself when things weren't going her way and after a big fall, got right back up on the proverbial horse. I tried to capture the look of determination on her face as she skated by me a couple times, but every time I tried, she'd compose herself and smile for the picture. (well kind of a smile)

I have no idea whether she'll ever see this blog or have an idea of how proud of her I was on Saturday, but I hope deep down she knows it. I also know I took a step toward letting her go on Saturday and I take comfort in the fact that after 5 short years she's starting to build the skill set she needs to succeed in life.


Monica said...

What a doll she is! And what an amazing post. This sums up so perfectly what it means to be a parent--and it's exactly why I give you and every other parent out there so much credit! Thanks for sharing!

Michael said...

Thanks, it's nerve wracking to say the least. I'm thankful she has such determination, otherwise I'd think it would really be rough.