Once a Quitter Always a Quitter?

Being a good parent means teaching our kids the fundamentals of how to succeed in the world, be a good person, and be happy. On this we can all agree. This road, however, is full of so many good intentions that can lead you down the wrong road. The fork between scarred and great character can be very small. Last Saturday, I found myself at one such fork.




Recently, Riley began asking to take a gymnastics class. I ended her gymnastics career about a year and a half ago after she could not demonstrate the ability to listen to her teacher or me. It was frustrating beyond belief, and I wasn’t about to go back to that. I had to make a compromise. The previous season she had very much enjoyed a round of ice skating classes with my mom. When I suggested that instead, she was all for it. So, I signed her up. She was happy. I was hopeful.

Before I continue, I should mention a tidbit about Riley. As Lesley would describe it, she has a mean little fairy that follows her around pushing her down. Or you might say, she is challenged by gravity. She has a tendency to fall even if she hasn’t made a movement. One minute she’s up. The next minute she’s down. So, ice skating might seem like an inappropriate choice. To that I refer back to my need to make a quick compromise and her love of the previous time she did it.  Which could be a stubborn way of saying perhaps I should have known better, but I just wasn’t thinking.

The first class came and Riley was ecstatic. She went right out on the ice and without missing a beat began to show off what she learned in her previous class. She made it all the way to the other side of the ice and was standing steadily against the wall when BOOM. There was a sound as if someone had body-checked her into the wall and she was down. Though, there was no one around her and she had made no previous movement before hitting the ice. The mean little fairy had struck again.  I sighed and waited for her to recover, but unlike normal, the tears continued. She held her arm close to her body and cried the whole way back to where I was. This was not like my brave girl. The girl who smiled as she got staples in her head. I was worried. We made an emergency FaceTime to pediatrician and aunt Elaine. After close examination, we were cleared to go home and spend the afternoon on the couch with a cold pack of peas for her arm.

Ri healed and the next Saturday came. This time, she took one step out onto the ice and wouldn’t move. She whined and complained that she was too tired to ice skate. Her teacher tried diligently to distract her, but she continued to ignore her and whine. I instantly became upset and had her sit quietly with me on the sidelines for the remainder of the class. She would not be a quitter and needed to stay with her class. I was certain.

That is, until we got home.

I calmed down after a bit and thought about the stark difference between her attitude at the first class and the second. Then it dawned on me. I asked her again. “Riley, why didn’t you participate in class?” She answered, “I was scared.” Of course. I hung my head in mom shame. I need to remember this for my mother of the year nomination.

Now I find myself stuck. Do I allow her to not return to the ice skating classes? She is gravitationally challenged. It likely would be more appropriate to wait until her coordination develops a bit more. Or, do I have her continue to go back even if we both spend the whole time frustrated on the sidelines? Would the lingering effects of quitting turn her into a quitter her whole life? Which fork in this crossroads leads to scarred for life and which leads to the building of great character?