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Kids Learn from Our Stumbles

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I remembered a great life lesson while I went skating with my kids.

kid at roller rink

Blythe Newsome: When I was growing up we used to rollerskate at an old armory. There was no shining disco ball in the middle of the room, just light pouring in from the big windows. Music played on the record player, periodically skipping as the needle hit a scratch. Instead of a shiny, slick linoleum floor, we skated around on an old hardwood floor where are wheels would gently roll over every bump and groove.

The other night I took the children roller skating. The skating rink is still dark with the exception of the flashing lights, and the music is so loud I found myself wishing they would turn it down a bit. The kids were singing along to songs that I cannot even begin to understand over the thumping of the bass. Tiny children skated by so quickly and fearlessly. I found myself wondering if I ever skated with such confidence.

I have a big decision to make as I lace up my son's skates. Do I want to be a cool parent that actually puts on the skates to help my younger ones skate, or do I just walk beside them with my flip-flops safely stuck to the floor? Daly begs me to put on skates. I am thinking of all the bones I can break when I fall.

As I am debating whether or not to be four inches off the ground on wheels, the cheering of six little children gets me up on the skates.

Hand in hand we went around the rink, my girls racing by, yelling words of encouragement. I didn't fall as many times as I expected, but the ground was just as hard as I remember it was when I was young. As I got my balance and watched the excitement in the eyes of my children as we skated together, I found myself thinking about how the fear of falling can prevent us from trying something. So what if we fall? Don't we want our children to see that yes, sometimes we do fall, but, more importantly, that we get back up?

That night when I was putting the kids to bed, Daly asked me if I was scared when I was skating. I told him I was a little afraid I would fall and get hurt, but I also knew I would be OK because I had him skating next to me to help me up if I fell, and I had his sisters cheering me on no matter how long I stayed up on my feet. As long as you have family and friends surrounding you, I told him, you will be OK if you fall.

The next morning was Daly's birthday. The first present he unwrapped was a pair of skates. As he put them on he said, "I am a little afraid, but it will be OK because you can help me up if I fall." That is right my sweet little boy -- don't let fear stand in your way. Go ahead and give it a try, and even if you fall, I will be there to help you back up and cheer you on.

next: Middle Schoolers and the Art of Conversation
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