At first, she didn't know what to do and asked me to walk in front and be pulled along.
I said, "No way. Move your feet. Push off and glide." Why would we get blades -- so I can pull her along? She hobbled with one foot in front of the other out of the garage and onto the driveway.
My heart stopped whenever she faltered. I warned her of rocks and imperfections in the asphalt. She would laugh, but teetered backwards with squeals. However, my arm was always there to catch her around the waist or the shoulder until she gains her balance.
She did her stumbled up a little slope on the driveway. When she went on the decline, she picked up speed. She had good momentum going and was excited. She didn't need help. Her head was up and arms in a ready stance and she was moving quicker than I was.
That's when I said, "No you're not controlling it. You're just going with momentum."
I pulled her back and forced her to slow down and move her feet. I reminded her she didn't know how to stop so it wasn't good to keep going until she crashed into car or the house.
While teaching a 12-year-old to roller blade, I felt like every metaphor and aphorism about motherhood was coming alive at that moment.
1. Parents are there to catch you. She can move confidently knowing I'm right there when she wobbles backwards.
2. Parents are not there to pull you along. You've got to push off on your own and move your own feet.
3. Parents are going to pull you back when you're just going downhill, riding on pure momentum and speed, and not your own volition or skill. It's exciting for just a few moments, but you'll crash into something.
4. Parents will get beat up. My right foot was run over by the blades, I was kicked in the right shin and my arms were scratched from holding her up by all those velcro pads. But like everything else, you keep on doing what your doing to get kid moving.
We just had one session in the driveway and I'm confident she'll do well in no time.
Next challenge -- pull out my roller blades from the basement where they were buried 12 years ago!