My husband took our son to his ice skating class tonight. I have yet to go see this fantastic showing of "Preschoolers on Ice" myself, but made reservations for next week. Since Little Sister was down and out with the flu for one day shy of a week, I thought it would behoove (I love that word and just HAD to use it!) us to give her this first healthy day at home without subjecting her poor little bod to a fresh batch of ice rink germs. Funny thing is, though, he was reluctant to go to class, which is a complete 180 from his first two weeks (after the first week he came home bellowing how great class was, skating around the kitchen in his socks singing about how great he was and how he was going to be the teacher for the next class!):
son: I don't have to go to ice skating tonight. I think we can just stay home and mow the lawn (his favorite outdoor activity since he was big enough to reach the handle of a plastic lawn mower)
me: I bet you'll get to play a new game this week. Remind me - what did you play with your classmates last time?
me: Oh, right! Duck, duck, goose. You came home and told me all about it last week!
son: But now I know how to play it. I'm just not feeling very confident.
me: You're new at skating. The more you practice, the more confident you'll feel.
son: Nah. I can just stay home.
me: (feeling like I'm trying to tread water after 15 minutes of effort!) I bet Dad will rent skates again today and you can skate with him!
me: (feeling like we might have a breakthrough) And that will give you practice for when I'm there next week and WE skate together after class. You can show me all of your moves and teach me how to get back up when I fall.
son: Oh, I can do that. But, it would be okay if we just stay home.
me: Well, your dad left work early so you could have this special time together. So, why don't you enjoy hanging out with him on the way and just see how it goes . . . come on, let's go get your stuff together!
He wasn't feeling totally confident after that, but I did manage to get him ready to head out for class without falling apart and bailing. My husband resumed the cheerleading and some diversion conversations on the way to the rink (which, as luck would have it, is a good 45 minute drive *ugh*. . . I'm glad he was the one up for THAT stretch of convincing - whew!). The report upon return home was something along these lines (though insert about 30 other conversations between each of these comments for a true look at how it went):
son: I skated all the way across the rink without falling down!
husband: I skated 3 laps around the rink by myself as he watched, but he did join me for the fourth lap (last week he didn't!).
son: The best part was watching the Zamboni!
husband: I feel a bit guilty because one of the instructors spent nearly the entire class working with just him . . . but he didn't bail like another little kid!
son: We can all skate together next week. Do you think Little Sister can join us too?
me: Do you think they'll rent skates to 14 month olds?
little sister: (arms flapping - head nodding emphatically up and down) Yia . . . yia . . . dadadadada!
This is really our first experience with our son's wavering confidence (and I'm sure it won't be our last, because the little cutie just keeps getting older and finding new experiences to try!), so we're trying to be encouraging and supportive without being too pushy. We want him to learn to stick things out (unless there's a safety concern or he's just totally in a puddle) and give them a few tries before deciding to move on to another interest. I hope we've done that in a healthy way. We'll see after this series of classes (just 2 more to go!) if he brings up skating again next winter when we take him to a hockey game, or if this will just get tucked under his hat so he can tell his friends in college: "You think THAT'S crazy? My parents signed me up for ice skating lessons when I was THREE! They didn't even go out on the ice with me, they just threw me out there to fall on my face by myself with kids I didn't know and a few teachers!"
I'm sticking with our version: "You have the coolest parents ever - they let you take ice skating lessons when you were just 3 years old! And your friend from school was even in your first class! Even better, your dad took off work early to take you so you could have special time together."