I had such high hopes this morning for my kids' day off. I'd take them ice skating, for the first time. It would be so much fun! Immediately memories came flooding back. In high school my house was right across the street from a park that would be carefully groomed for ice skating all winter long. I'd get home from school and go out to spend an hour honing my skills. I became pretty comfortable at it. By the time I took lessons in college I was ready to start learning some tricks. And during the free lunchtime skate hour I'd even begun working on simple pair skating with a friend.
Fast-forward to today. I'm ready to introduce my girls to this sport, sure they'll be so enamored of the grace and beauty if it that they'll be begging me to sign them up for lessons. When we arrived at the rink there were two girls in skating skirts getting ready to go out on the ice. Aha! Perfect for my plan. "Watch those girls while I get your skates," I told my daughters.
Half an hour later I finally had everyone's skates on and looped and fastened and tied. Eldest daughter had already tested the ice and was excited to really get out there. Then I turned to daughter number two. She was in tears.
"It's too cold," she complained. "My feet hurt. I don't want to do this."
"Just go stand on the ice and see what it's like," I pleaded. She complied. As soon as her skates touched the ice and she began to slide she turned around and stumbled back off.
"I don't like it," she pouted. Back went the skates to the rental office.
My uber-princess was still out on the ice with her sister, slipping and tumbling. A young figure skater suggested I tighten her laces. Then I saw another preschooler going onto the rink with a set of chair legs. That was my solution! I grabbed a set for uber-princess and propped her behind them.
"Try these," I said. And off we went, slowly inching around the rink. One trip around. That's all we made before she gave me the same complaints as her sister. Back went her skates. I took the younger two up to the viewing stands and made my way back to my eldest on the ice. She was slipping and sliding and doing everything but skating. It took some coaxing, but I finally convinced her to let me tighten her skates some more. Then she was off and skating. Still falling and mostly shuffling, but over the next half hour she made a lot of progress.
There were more tears from her sisters ("we're bored. We're cold. When are we going home?"). And then the time was up, the morning nearly a waste. As we took off our skates I consoled myself with the fact that at least one of my children had enjoyed our outing. And then she began crying. Her toes hurt. Bad. I tried to explain that it was just part of skating. It was merely from the cold. My toes hurt bad too. But that didn't matter to her. She just kept crying. So much for my dreams of a fun day-off activity that would launch a new hobby for my children.
As for me, I'd taken a dozen or so trips around the rink - my exercise for the day. It felt good to have the ice under my feet again. I'm not limber enough to do the moves I'd been learning when I was younger, but I was still steady, still able to do crossovers and skate backwards.
I don't think I'll be getting the mom-of-the-year award for my attempt at fun today. Which makes me wonder, why is it so hard for my kids to have fun trying something new? Why is it so hard to be a mom who wants her kids to enjoy the things she enjoys?