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I'm Pretty Proud of That

So, I know I've mentioned it before, but The Girl generally doesn't like to be coached. That's why she always says no to things like organized sports or lessons for things. She finally gave in and let us sign her up for skating lessons earlier this year. She's about a week from being done with her 2nd session of lessons.

She came home last night from her lesson, saying that her instructor told her that although she was in Basic 3, she could probably pass the test for 3 and 4 and next session we should sign her up for basic 5.

This was a pretty significant step for her, given that not 4 weeks ago, she told me she wanted to quit. They're doing pretty basic stuff, straight lines, turns, lunges. They're not doing any spins or anything like that just yet, just working on their turns and posture, strengthening their core, and working on balance. She had one lesson where she had to skate in a straight line, one skate in front of the other, with her arms outstretched at shoulder height. Let's be honest, the kid is a corner cutter. So instead of skating with her arms outstretched and straight, she let her elbows sag, looking like she was trying to do a weird "Walk Like an Egyptian" dance. The instructor told her to get her arms out straight or she'd have to do push ups. She'd straighten up for a minute or two, then let them sag again.

As you might imagine, she wound up having to do about 15 push ups on the ice. Since she doesn't wear gloves, she had to borrow the instructor's to do them, which she told me was "just the worst." That night, she came home complaining that she didn't want to skate any more. It had gone from being fun to being hard, like actual work or a chore, and she was definitely no longer interested.

Given that it was week 3 of an 8 week class we'd already paid for, she wasn't allowed to quit. She moaned. She complained. She whined. She pouted. But she kept going, mostly because she didn't have any other choice.

Then, it happened, and she didn't even realize it: her hard work paid off. She didn't have to do any more push ups. Her instructor complimented her progress, and told her she'd really advanced. And last night, she told me about how her instructor recommended testing for 3 and 4 and skipping to Basic 5 next session. She finished her tale with the simple words, "I'm really proud of that, Mama."

She finally felt that thing I've been trying to get her to understand for so long: the things in in our lives we're most proud of are the things we must work the hardest to achieve. Certainly something that comes easily to us but harder to others may be seen by those others as achievements, but they don't carry the same weight in our own minds. We don't value them as much as those achievements that challenged us to do more than we thought we could.

I don't think I'm raising the next Dorothy Hamill or anything (if you don't know who she is, go here. I know there are other skaters you might know, but I had Dorothy's haircut when I was a kid, so she has a special place in my heart). At best, The Girl will probably stick with this for another year or two. She'll age out of the after school program at the skating rink, which means she won't automatically have 2 days a week of free skating, and she may not want to continue if that's not the case.

But she caught a little piece of that "wow, I worked hard and I'm proud of it" thing that's probably the most important part of success. Knowing that cutting corners and the easy way out might get her to the end of the session, but won't give her that sense of accomplishment.

And once you've had that feeling, that "wow, I did that!" sense, you want it again.

And again.

And you realize that all it takes to get it is hard work. And sometimes an instructor who makes you do push ups on the ice.


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