Thursday, May 01, 2014

Falling Down #TBTStories

Throwback Thursday Stories is a new link-up series being hosted on The Mom Creative.  
This week: Summer 1986. I was five. 
I've got a running theme so far with these Throwback Thursday Stories, as two weeks ago I shared the story of a socially awkward rollerskating party I attended in middle school, and this week I have another rollerskating-related story.

Not quite two weeks ago—two days after sharing that awkward party story, in fact—I took Kate rollerskating. It was her second time skating (fifth or sixth, if you count ice skating), and she still struggled a bit to stay upright. She kept getting frustrated, going so slowly, shuffling along with her little PVC-pipe walker thing the beginners can use, and wanted to sit down for a break after practically every lap.

I could see how discouraged she was getting, despite the fact that there were plenty of big kids, even teens and adults, struggling to keep their balance and falling down. She didn't want to try anymore, because she wasn't succeeding right away.

As she sat on a carpeted bench (not much has changed in roller rinks in 21 years), staring down at her skates, I sat on the floor in front of her and told her a story. It was the story of this picture, in fact.

I got my first pair of roller skates for my fifth birthday. They were the adjustable kind that strapped on right over your shoes. These were metal, though Fisher Price started making those blue plastic ones with the orange wheels around the same time, I believe. I tried them out on the smooth garage floor and my dad took pictures. Somewhere in that first try, I lost my balance. I probably fell down. A few times. I don't know. All I know is Dad caught that blurry photo of me struggling to regain my balance.

I told Kate about that day when I first tried rollerskating, but more importantly, I told her about the day weeks later, when Mom got the photos developed and I saw that picture of me falling down, my blurry hand flailing for balance. I hated that photo so much that I crumpled it up and threw it in the trash can. Then, minutes or hours later, I felt so guilty for having thrown it away that I went and fished it out of the trash, smoothed it out as best I could, and put it back with the other photos from the roll. If you look closely, though the photo has been adhered under a page protector and smashed in a heavy album for 28 years, you can see the creases from that temporary crumpling.

The moral of the story, as I told it to Kate, was that we shouldn't be ashamed of losing our balance and falling down, especially when we're just starting to learn a new skill.

As I flipped through my parents' photo albums last week to find this photo, Mom said it looked like I was just dancing, or waving, not falling. Perhaps that is the case, and my hatred of the photo was based just on its blurriness and the unflattering position the camera caught me in. Shame over falling made it a better story for that moment encouraging Kate to get back on her wheels and try again. But shame over how one looks in a photo—or worse, a mirror—will make that story come in handy again, I'm sure, ten years or so down the road.


AKA Jane Random said...

Good message! Oh, I miss the roller rink!

Susan said...

Sometimes it's so hard to remember that it's falling (or failing) that makes us stronger. Sounds like you had just the right words for your little one, and the perfect photo to illustrate the point!


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