My nine-year old’s feet are out from under him, his rib cage knocking against the plywood of the skate ramp. I quickly do the mother scan for severe damage, and when he pops up and flips his skateboard back to upright with his foot, I know all limbs are intact.
“Good!” I call towards him, as he glances sideways at me from under the bulk of his helmet.
I have precious positioning here today. He’s fresh enough that he’s not minding his mom sitting ramp-side on a blanket, as he practices his ‘drop in’s’. In fact, he wanted me to come so he could show me his latest move. And this afternoon, I have particular advantage, as we are in a rare window with the entire skatepark to ourselves. No fellow skaters to impress.
My “good” comment is not an attempt to be the perpetually positive parent, shouting words of encouragement. But I can tell Jeb is suspect. He just wiped out, what do I mean, “good?”
“I know you wrecked there, but it was because you tried something different. I saw that. That’s good. You took a risk.”
He does not reply but body language says all. He’ll take that as an attaboy. He goes back to the top of the ramp and positions the board for the 56th time, to drop in and skate the slope down to the other side.
He can execute the drop in, no problem, it’s the follow-up – what to do when momentum forces him to the top of the ramp on the other side – that’s tripping him up. I know nothing of skateboarding (except that Danny Way’s documentary “Waiting for Lightening”, about jumping the Great Wall of China on a skateboard, was pretty amazing). No, my hot tips are not at all helpful in the technical realm. I’m a writer, not a skater, and everything is metaphors.
I hear myself laud the merits of taking risks and think of my own proverbial drop in’s. Within days of publishing my upcoming book, I’m trying new moves and attempting to maneuver with grace. There may be some wipe outs, I’ll wear a helmet, but at least I’m skating into fresh territory.
Jeb continues with rushing wheels rolling down the slope toward a finish he hasn’t quite yet mastered. Time and again he tries different variations on the follow-up. Nothing works completely, but I can see he’s feeling his way through the process.
In my excitement, I lose my cool-status and overstep into parental geekdom. I suggest finding some videos online that show drop in’s, maybe even some in slow motion with step-by-step demonstrations.
“Not everything is online, mom.” His tone isn’t disrespectful, but it’s obvious I’ve made a parental faux pas.
I’m laughing to myself because, of course, I don’t think the answer to all can be found on the internet.
Maybe I’m just overzealous. Wanting Jeb to have all the tools needed to achieve an end result. In my enthusiasm I forgot. The real juice is in the process of discovery. Wipe outs and failed executions, included.