While reading the Sunday morning "funnies," (also known as my Facebook newsfeed) and sipping my coffee, I happened on a post by a new friend who was telling her friends about her daughter's first USFS competition and how she felt about what she, as a mom, had just experienced. While reading it, I realized I could have written it myself (except for the "hair" thing) many years ago, in another rink and in a time long ago and now far away. (Posted with permission with names edited out.)
So looking back over the weekend, I learned a few things…
1. This sport is hard core. And can make or break you. It is also an amazing parallel to what life is like. It is mandatory to have a phenomenal circle around you both at the rink and at home to hold you up.2. Skating moms don't just see their kid. They see and cheer and hug and help and fret over EVERY kid. Even when they aren't at your rink. (We FEEL those falls AND those landings kids.)3. This is a subjective sport. So even if you fall OR skate your best program ever, not every judge scores the same way.
4. There is a reason they put tissues in every greeting bag.5. Jumps and spins mean NOTHING if you don't look like you are having fun out there and enjoy yourself.6. Early and late practices are really important, and really a pain in the ass.7. Vendors know their audience.8. I am a target audience.9. Rink coffee sucks.10. I could fund her skating and her college and my retirement by getting a coffee food truck that serves every skating event at 5am until 11pm.11. Coaches do not get paid enough. They are highly qualified coaches, sure, but they are parents, counselors, drill sergeants and morale boosters as well as organizers, guard dogs and cheerleaders.
12. My kid is MUCH more competitive with herself than anyone else.
13. Hotels aren't home.14. People who do hair are no joke. That s#!t is HARD.15. We are a little too excited for the next one. I did NOT expect that going into this.
And most of all, we are so proud. She was terrified of competing in her first USFS competition and she got medals in both her events.
That was me about 20+ years ago at our first USFS competition, before we had Facebook where we could share these feelings with like-minded people, old and new friends and family. We didn't have a sounding board. There wasn't a way to express what we were feeling and experiencing. When it all begins, we are enveloped in the euphoria of every skater and every parent. That doesn't last long at the lower levels. (See Darth Vader Dads and Dragon Lady Moms)I'm going back to bed now. To do NOTHING.
But as skaters have to learn new skills in order to advance and be successful, so do wise parents. This is a path that is constantly under construction and one riddled with toe picks, bad advice, and more ups and downs than a Learn to Skate session.
So, for parents like my new friend who used to skate herself, my advice is Yoda-like:
- Learn from the "Elders"
- Enjoy every victory and learn from every experience
- There are no defeats unless you let them be so. There are only opportunities to grow
- Not everyone has your best interest at heart
- Remember that your skater is your most important asset - your child. Nothing else -not even a sport - supersedes that
- Ask questions; don't "coach" (unless you are a coach then that's a whole different story and subject of a totally different blog)
- Remember that you employ a coach. Be a responsible employer
- Be respectful
- Make sure you have a life outside of the rink
- Stay excited and caffeinated. Find the nearest Starbucks - Immediately. You won't survive long at competition without it
If you do all this, somewhere along the line you'll look back and smile - whether it is two years from today or 25. And isn't that what it's all about? We only get one time around, so make sure it is always done with enthusiasm - and hopefully a little humor, just like my new friend who shared this on Facebook not knowing that I would ask her if I could use this as a way to make my point, and not knowing I do a blog. Now, she knows. We all begin this journey on common ground. That makes me smile!
Cheers, Denise! This one's for you.