The first time I fell in love, I was 11. The white glow emanating from my suitor drew me in, despite the contrasting cold, frigid atmosphere. I drifted forward in a cult-like manner, knowing I would be forever changed. The dizzying way I walked with this new love, slipping, sliding, groping for upright forward movement. There was nothing that could have kept me from falling. Well, except gravity. After three decades of throwing my body at the ice, I still curse the inability to repeal that law, but I am still in love.
It didn’t matter that I wasn’t a very good skater, or that my family didn’t understand the skating world. It didn’t matter to me that I had to work at the rink to pay for ice time. I begged and negotiated my way into private lessons, rode my bike to the rink and got up at 4:30 in the morning to practice. That’s what the good skaters did. I needed to do it too. Much later in life I realized I really wasn’t so bad at skating, I had just been extremely low in self-confidence.
My daughter first stepped on the ice at 18 months and just skated in her first holiday show. My son tried it a few times. They now ask me to watch it on TV, pointing out the skaters’ jumps and identifying spins – correctly. They just turned three. I want them to like skating, but I’m also afraid they will. I can’t make up my mind. Sports are healthy, and I want them to be confident. I love that they practice jumping up and down and spinning in the living room. They stretch out their arms yelling “Ta da!” at the top of their lungs, curtseying and bowing.
My iPod is inscribed with ‘Fall down seven times, get up eight’. Falling is a part of life. Skating has given me so much, and whatever sport they take up I just want them to have determination for something inside of themselves. I clap when they tumble down and tell them it was a good fall. I encourage them to get back up quickly. They watch the skaters on TV fall and look at me. I clap and tell them all skaters fall and point out that the skaters got up again. I have also competed as an adult for 15 years and skate weekly. Last year after 12 years out of competition, I entered four events. Not sure what I was thinking, only that I had promised myself after having kids I would give it another go. I even won one. But what made it incredible was watching them watching me through the glass, knowing this was for them too.
They often ask to watch my competition DVDs, clapping and squealing, “Yay Mommy!” Even when I fall. That’s my favorite part. This is when I know in my heart that they can love skating. That they should love something the way I love skating.