Excerpt from a letter to James:
Before your first skating lesson you were very excited. You figured you’d step out onto the ice and glide I suppose. You had new skates and a nice helmet…but before the 45 minutes of time was up, you were in tears. You started out strong. Someone was with you the whole time, but you eventually were fatigued of falling and getting up…falling and getting up. My heart broke for you. I had prepped you for this, but I knew you were thinking, “This is too hard! It takes too much work! I want to be finished with this!”
You told me afterwards that you didn’t really like skating, but I managed to get you excited for the next lesson by telling you we’d get you a helmet with protective face guard (remember I said you were a cautious child), blue skate guards, and blue laces. You still said you didn’t like skating but you were excited about the skating gear (side note: You couldn’t figure out why they didn’t make “colorful helmets.” When you discovered you couldn’t get a blue one, you mentioned pink since you had seen a little girl with one on the previous lesson. I stuck with black.)
The day of your second lesson, I psyched you up by telling you the story of you and the “turkey transformer” (I had told you a story earlier that day about the “turkey transformer.” Why a turkey you ask? I suppose because it’s Thanksgiving weekend. I really need to write some of these ridiculous stories down before I forget them.) I told of how the turkey transformer wanted to learn to skate with you, and how you and him would continually fall and get back up. Each time you would fall you would giggle and say, “It’s okay! We can do this! We are not giving up!!” And before you knew it, you were gliding on the ice. After I finished the story, you got out of the van at the arena you said, “I’m going to be like the story! I’m NOT GOING TO GIVE UP!” You said it with such gusto I figured I had you convinced. Then, before you got onto the ice, it happened, “I don’t want to go on Mommy.” I encouraged and reminded you of the story, but the final convincing was (you guessed it – a form of reward) with the offer of 2 stickers from your skating teacher. I also had you excited for a date with me and surprise directly after your skating lesson. You were steadier on your skates this time before you got on the ice and even on the ice. You were able to stand easier – although you still fell quite a bit – because you were taking your eyes and mind off of the task at hand and looking for me. I chose to stay out of site because the last lesson you were crying for me. At one point I went over and waved, but then I quickly discovered that was a mistake as you were trying to get to me, so I left. I sat in the stands watching you with bated breath…yearning for you to succeed. You stood on your own and lifted your arms to your sides. You slowly edged forward. You’d fall and get back up. Fall and get back up. I was so proud. My eyes were glassy. You weren’t keeping up with all of the other kids, but you were making progress, and you weren’t quitting. You fell most often when you were looking for me, but you couldn’t find me. All the while I was there watching.
As I sat there I thought to myself, “I wonder if this is how God feels sometimes watching over His children. When we’re in the midst of something difficult and He’s trying to see us through without intervening in the way we want right away…does it pull at His heartstrings? Does He watch with bated breath – yearning for us to succeed? He could come in and save the day right away, but instead, He waits because He knows that we’ll be stronger in the end if we persist and pull through. Meanwhile, we get frustrated and sometimes take longer to work through things because we’re too busy looking for Him forgetting that He is already there – but we want to SEE Him – see His signs and wonders and then, when we catch a glimpse we’re ready to say, “Okay I’m done with this! Let me out of here!” The difference is I was watching from a distance, but God is always right there beside us. And it’s not that He is just watching, He is always active – it just takes time to see how the pieces fit together.
I tried to explain to you afterwards on our date how I was watching your every move even though you couldn’t see me, and I tried to relate it to God as you are still trying to wrap your mind around Him. “Can God see me EVERYWHERE?” you asked. “Even if I’m in a canoe or if I fall or if I….” on and on you went. Oh child, how I love your inquisitive little mind.
I hope I don’t ruin the skating experience for you as a result of these lessons. I wrestle with “Are you ready for this?” and “I can’t let you give up so easily.” I know that the end result will be worth it – just as it was with you learning to walk, just as it was with you learning to get dressed, just as it was with you learning to swim…Common words from my lips, “In this family we don’t give up! We keep trying because we know the end result will be worth it!” I don’t want you to be a quitter. You can do anything you set your mind to. Perhaps it’s a lack of will power. Perhaps it’s a lack of confidence. Perhaps it’s because you are cautious. I’m still figuring you out, but I love you for it. You are teaching me how to be a better mom and how to be a better person. We have our similarities and our differences. But for our love of talking, art, and vivid imaginations, our personalities are different. You need preparation before something happens. I don’t. You aren’t big on change. I am. You like to know how things work and how they are made. I could care less (but I do my best to explain what I can!) You are a deep thinker. Me – not quite so much aside from personal life circumstances. We both feel things with our emotions quite strongly. Your words often get you into trouble as you are still learning to think before you speak. I so yearn for you to be a hard worker and persistent in your endeavours. . What an intricate design of God you are! What a responsibility your father and I have in parenting you. He has entrusted us with so much!
And so the skating saga continues. “I still didn’t like it very much Mommy,” was your response later on. But I told you how proud I was of you. You didn’t give up. You kept trying. After talking with you about the two of us skating together, you thought about it and said, “And I will have fun with you and Daddy on the ice. Oh, and I want to go skating with my friend Oscar too.” So once again, I have you convinced it will be worth it…and we will go to another lesson, and we will see how it plays out.
For the record: You don’t have to like skating. You don’t have to be a star hockey player. You don’t even have to play hockey or like it for that matter. In the end, I just don’t want you to be the kid in school pushing around the chair trying to keep up with his peers because he was never given the opportunity to learn. I’m trying to spare you at least that much.
I love you James…just the way you are.