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Ice Queen

Monday, the sisterhood of moms gave me a very nice present, which I’ll get to shortly. My story begins with a trip to the ice skating rink.

Ever since I began planning our ill-fated trip to Gatlinburg, I’ve been thinking about ice skating and how much fun I thought it would be to take Simon with me. I still think it would be fun, but I have to figure out WHERE it would be fun, because it sure isn’t fun at the neighborhood rink.

Monday I took Simon to the place where I used to skate as a kid. Our adventure—“goventure” as Simon calls it—began to run off the rails at the line for skates. It was really, really long. And the area where you wait was also loud and crowded, two things Simon does not like at all. He endured, and I grabbed our skates.

Whereupon we hit a second speed bump. His were too small, and mine had one lace that was too short and another that was way too long. I struggled with mine, then had to trade his in. One fit fine, one was still a struggle, and again there were issues with the laces. To tell the truth, it looked like the rink has not replaced skates or laces since I used to go there in the 80s. The rink was a bit rank, and Simon grew increasingly unhappy.

To mollify him, I kept promising that all I wanted was for him to go with me onto the ice, where it would be quiet and the people more spread out, and give it a try. I don’t usually push Simon this way, but Monday I felt like gentle pushing was OK. So we stomped our way through doors and down a crowded hall to where we could enter the rink, only to be greeted by blaring rock music.

We had to scrub the mission. I wasn’t wild about the noise, and Simon lost whatever equilibrium he had going on. Back down the hall we ran. Back to the benches we went. Off came the skates. Simon cried that the noise scared him and that he wanted to go home. I wanted to calm him down as we cleared out, so I tried a little of the emotion coaching we’ve been doing lately.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but at least one woman had been watching us since we grabbed our skates at the very beginning.

Me: “I’m sorry Simon. Did the noise upset you?”

Simon: “It was too loud for me. I don’t want to ice skate any more. I want to go home.”

Me: “I understand. I had no idea it would be so loud on the ice. I didn’t remember that part. I’m very sorry.”

Simon: “It was too loud for me. I don’t want to ice skate any more.”

Me: “I know, honey. But you know what? It’s OK that you didn’t like it, and it’s OK that the loud music upset you. I understand; I don’t like it either. But I’m also glad we tried, because you never know what fun you might have if you don’t try something new.”

Simon: “Mommy, the loud noise upset me. But we tried. I want to go home.”

Me: “We’re going to leave just as soon as we can. Can you help me carry the skates to the counter?”

Simon: “Yes. I help you mommy.”

Me: “And do you want to go home? Or do you want to go to the grocery and help me pick out food?”

Simon: “The grocery. I want to go to the grocery and help you pick out food. Can I mommy?”

And that was that. Tears dried. Skates were carried. He waved good-bye to the rink, and then, our way out, a woman approached me. Apparently, she had been watching us from the minute we got our skates in the first place. Here’s what she said:

“I’m sorry to interrupt you, I just want to tell you what a good mother you are. The way you talked to him and calmed him down. You did exactly what he needed, and that was great. I hope you don’t feel bad that skating didn’t work out.”

Wow. I sure didn’t any more! Not that I think I did anything out of the ordinary, either, but it was nice to be validated when my child had a rather public collapse. Best of all, we had a great time at the art store picking out brushes and paint, and then an even better time at the grocery, where Simon pretended to read the list (he always helpfully adds “chocolate milk” if I forget), put items in the cart, took items out of the cart to put them on the conveyer belt, made sure I knew when it was time to pay, thanked the cashier and bagger, and waved to everyone he passed as we headed out the door.

You just never know where you will find the fun.

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