Tuesday, October 16, 2012

On Ultimatums, Open Windows and Having a Pampers Moment

Ultimatums rarely end with the desired result. Oscar Wilde said on his deathbed, "Either that wallpaper goes or I do." It did not go well for Wilde; the wallpaper survived.

So much of our skating life is like that. Many times over the course of our traveled road, we feel like we're dying a painful and torturous death. We look at clubs, rinks, coaches, partners, partner's parents, and we say, "Either THEY, go or I do!" We've reached what we think is a point of no return. It is Armageddon. Waterloo. Little Big Horn. Life as we know it has ended. All we see is an empty, frozen landscape. There will be no phoenix rising from the ashes. There will only be S'mores over an open fire as the world as we know it goes up in flames.

I am here to tell you that if you are making educated and well thought out choices, you will survive. It doesn't come without communication, soul-searching, and a lot of angst, but trust me, life as you know it will not cease to exist.

I've had more than my share of those defining moments where I lay in bed, staring at the dark ceiling with my mind reeling through all the things that brought us there - that ultimatum  I knew was coming; that battle I knew I didn't want but I also knew was inevitable. I was out of Tums, out of patience and most certainly out of platitudes. It was time to do some major renovation. The wallpaper had to go so we could survive and move on. We had spent a lot of time and money building equity. We needed an extreme makeover, not a wrecking ball. 

If you have engaged in pairs and dance partnership, you've probably had one or two (or 10) of these reconstructions. Sometimes, you are the contractor; sometimes you're the wallpaper. It is rarely amicable. It always painful. It usually is done with a sledge hammer. It was definitely not in the plans.

But when it comes to an extreme makeover, one of the most difficult decisions is making a coaching change. That being said, there are parents and skaters who change coaches more frequently than underwear. Underwear does need to be changed for physical well-being. Sometimes, coaches do, too. But changing underwear is one thing; changing a coach is quite another. Missing a jump, placing a bit lower in a competition than what you expected (or demanded), having a bad practice; struggling on an element. This does not necessarily constitute a "Pampers Moment."  However, making a change can be necessary. Like changing diapers, if it is a big ______ mess, it needs to be cleaned up and disposed of properly.

Back to wallpaper..

Sometimes, you have to step back and really assess the room. Can you live with the wallpaper? Is your displeasure based on other people's opinions of how you've chosen your design, or are there truly better designs out there? Makeovers come at a cost. 
Be sure you have outlined and fully assessed the benefits of your new blueprint. Try to leave the window of opportunity open for as long as you can. 

And if you decide to put a fan in the window and air out the room, make sure you've disposed of those Pampers properly. Believe me, it's in everyone's best interest. 


  1. all I can say is THANKS.

  2. LOVE this post...know so many who are always looking to the next best coach. We are in a transition with my daughter's skating and when I talk to people about wondering how to approach some issues, their first answer is maybe you need a new coach...don't want/need a new coach, want to make it work with this coach who has done great by us and my daughter-just need to figure out how to adjust to the "growing pains" and changing needs of the student/coach as we journey through new and untested waters for both of them. Thank you for sharing your wisdom in your blog-seems to always be timely when I read it and encouraging on the days when I question everything about skating!