The Daddy and I have been discussing when we should get Benjamin into some kind of martial arts class. I like the idea of disciplining and expanding his mind as early as possible. If I drew you a map of his brain today, I would simply label one hemisphere “DINOSAURS” and the other “TRANSFORMERS.” The end. Nothing else enters his mind, and nothing else exits.
Then we discussed Ellie and what she might want to do in the future, and I was reminded of my own childhood physical endeavor: figure skating.
I started figure skating at around age 5 or 6. My final hurrah came when I was around 13. That year, my coach said I could go to the annual competition in Marquette. It was an international competition, which sounds really impressive, no? But all it really meant was there would be at least one skater from Canada.
I would be participating in two events: ice dancing and the short compulsory program. So exciting! Issue number one (of course) was OMG WHAT WILL I WEAR? Issue number two was preparing the actual dance. To my distress, the dance I would be performing was the Canasta Tango.
At this point, I will fully disclose that I barely practiced that miserable tango. I had learned the Canasta years earlier and had no interest in revisiting it. I halfheartedly lurched around the rink when the music came on. I rolled my eyes and sighed and said I was tired. Puh-leeze. I spent a fair amount of time just leaning against the boards, observing my fellow skaters as they prepared their dances. I watched jealously as the club’s celebrated superstar practiced her Rocker Foxtrot. The Rocker Foxtrot just oozed coolness and intrigue, while the Canasta had all the coolness and intrigue of a geriatric shuffleboard match.
I was uninspired, to say the very least.
On competition day, I skated purposefully out to the starting point on the ice and waited for the music to start. I was unafraid. My dress was gorgeous – black, with filmy handkerchief-cut sleeves and a matching skirt. I smiled winningly and looked for my mother in the stands. The music started…
And I just stood there.
It was as though someone had picked up an eraser and wiped my mind clean of any memory I had of the Canasta Tango. It was completely gone. Whoosh.
Any sane person would’ve just skated off the ice. Instead, I thought I’d give it a whirl. I skated aimlessly around, smiling like a deranged maniac, throwing in some out-of-sequence steps here and there.
Up in the stands, my mother was blissfully unaware until one of my fellow skaters said, “Oh, wow…she really blew it.”
After it was over, I met my mother in the locker room and cried. The most pressing issue at hand was that I still had another event to compete in, and I was too embarrassed to even think about going back out there. How could I face the panel of judges again? And my peers?
My mother looked at her pathetic, tear-stained daughter and said, “Well, it’ll be fine. You’ll be wearing a different dress. They won’t even know it’s you.”
At the time, I accepted this advice as being inarguably logical. Of course they wouldn’t know it was me! I’d be taking off my elegant black dress and changing into a jazzy purple dress with a vibrant Hawaiian sunset scene around the neckline. I’d be completely unrecognizable!
And so, buoyed by this change your clothes/change into a different person idea, I went out there and skated my compulsory routine and won 3rd place. I even got to stand on risers with the medal around my neck and have my picture taken. Just like the Olympics!
As I consider my children entering the world of individual and team sports, I wonder how we’ll handle the highs and lows, the wins and losses, the triumphs and the embarrassments. I do think martial arts will be great for Benjamin. But I’m pretty sure there’s only one outfit choice in martial arts, so there’ll be no saving him from abject humiliation by simply changing his clothes.
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