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Quitters sometimes win (something better)

Yesterday was crazy sock day at my daughter’s school. She was so excited, two weeks ago we came across the ugliest, craziest pair of socks and she convinced me to buy them for her so she could go to school and have *the* craziest socks. Well, she did wear those socks and had a lot of fun at school with everyone enjoying her crazy socks.

After school they move the crazy sock party over to the local roller rink and she decided she really wanted to go skating. She’s not had very much experience skating, but I was all for her going and hanging out with her friends and learning how to be more comfortable on her skates.

We went to the rink, paid to get in, paid for the skate rental, and paid for the thing-a-magig that she used to hold onto for balance. She went out onto the rink and I kid you not was out for 15 seconds before she was at the wall crying because she couldn’t make her skates move forward and saying she wanted to quit. I insisted that she head back out to the floor and show me how it was that her skates weren’t moving and after many more tears she turned around shuffled her feet back and forth and wailed “see, I can’t move, this isn’t working. I don’t want to do this anymore.”

So, with her standing there crying about how this was completely impossible to do after her 30 seconds of trying something in me snapped. I said “you need then to make a choice. Either we stay here and you keep tying to skate because trying it is the only way you’re ever going to get any better, or we leave and we go home.”

It went back and forth with her trying to convince me that she could just sit on the side and watch, or that she could go to the playzone (more money), or go get a snack (more money and crappy food). I was trying to convince her that at 9.5 she needed to finally learn how to make those roller skates do what she wanted them to do. After a few minutes of me whisper-yelling and her crying she got off, took off her skates and returned everything. We left the rink with both of us in tears (mine frustration, hers sadness). I pulled the whole “you’re going home and to your room. I am NEVER taking you roller skating again.” And she was sobbing “I could have won the contest for the craziest socks.”

I cranked out in the car the wonderful lecture about quitters and how quitters never get anywhere and how it was better to at least try and fail than it was to just stop and quit. That we aren’t a family of quitters (you know, every guilt trip in the book about quitting).

As we pulled up to the house I said that because she had missed her running club after school to go to this party and since she had not skated at all that she had to come to the river and walk the dog with me. So she sat in the car and cried while I went in and got the happiest dog in the world and put her in the back of the car.

By the time we got down to the river she was still crying and honestly at this time I was at a complete loss for words as to what to say. I realized that I’d got much madder than I should have and also knew that her crying always brings out the absolute worst in me. We walked down the path holding hands and I said that what had happened was over and that what we needed to do was try and focus on the beautiful area we were walking in and see how happy Dottie was and try and let it go. And then I decided to just shut my yapper and try and take everything in.

When I did stop talking and just walked with her holding onto her little hand the most amazing thing happened. She started processing out loud what had happened. She started with how she wished she hadn’t quit, that she had quit because she didn’t want to look like an idiot in front of her friends because she didn’t know how to skate, and that she had ended up looking like an even bigger idiot instead.

That pretty much stopped me right in my tracks. Who hasn’t not tried something new because the people around them already could do it and they didn’t want to look like an idiot? I think of all the things in school I was never brave enough to try because I didn’t want to look stupid in front of everyone else.

My heart went out to her. I shared what I was feeling and said that unfortunately almost everyone has had that same thing happen and that I was sorry I hadn’t been more sensitive to how she was feeling.

She kept on walking and talking and processing what she had been feeling and how she had handled it differently and how she wished she could go back in time and change it.

Then all of a sudden she stopped on the path and looked all around her and said “You know what mom? I’m pretty lucky that I’m here, it’s so pretty and this is actually a much nicer thing to do than to be inside roller skating. I will just let all that go because all it does is make me feel sad and I’m going to really take in how wonderful it is to be right here, right now.”

I have never been so proud of this little girl. I told her that quitting was when you simply stopped doing something and that I didn’t think she was a quitter at all. Nobody who was a quitter would be able to take a negative experience and be able to work through it so thoroughly and be able to see sunshine and joy at the end of it.

We held hands and walked along the beautiful path and my heart was so full of joy that I have been blessed with such an amazing teacher. I am thankful every day for my two kids, they have brought me more joy and love and fulfillment than I could have ever thought possible.

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