When the Going Gets Tough

I watched my daughter halfway attempt to do a cartwheel at her gymnastics class the other day.  It’s a skill that she mastered months ago, but has now suddenly “forgotten” how to execute.   My frustration started to boil as I realized that this was the third class in a row that she’d acted nonchalant.

Like she doesn’t care.  Like she doesn’t want to be there.  If she had “Fuck this shit” in her arsenal of vocabulary, she would use it.

And I had no idea how to handle things.


She just seemed bored in her class.  I don’t know how or when or why things changed.  She used to be the kid that needed very little guidance.  The kid who listened and followed directions, who acquired new skills quickly, who didn’t need to be summoned off of the trampoline when all of the other kids were working on the beam.

And it wasn’t just gymnastics.  She was bailing out of skiing lessons as well, opting to display extreme separation anxiety meltdowns than have fun on the slope and work on her “pizza” and “french fry” positions.

I grappled with two opposing thoughts:  Pull her out of class, or make her tough it out.

What do you do when your children want to give up?

My first thought was “That’s it.  We’re done.  This is our last class.”  Because classes aren’t cheap, and if she didn’t want to be there, then it was a waste of time for everyone involved.

But then I argued, “Shouldn’t I make her stick things out?”  Perhaps this as an opportunity to teach perseverance and discipline?

Because I know this lesson all too well.  And not just from my career as a professional dancer.

Take Exhibit A:

When I was a senior in high school, I enrolled in AP Calculus.  Not because I was a genius, but because the trajectory of my previous school’s curriculum forced it.  It was either AP Calculus or Physics, and since I can’t seem to even line up my cue ball to hit a clear shot in to a corner pocket, I figured my chances were better at calculus than physics.

But that calculus crap is HARD.

I did okay at it, but about halfway through the semester, I felt overwhelmed.  It was a lot of homework.  Homework that made my head swirl.  And I had come down with a horrible case of Senioritis.

Calculus wasn’t effortless, and therefore, I wanted to drop out.  So I made a proposal to my parents to drop the class.  And when they respectfully declined my request, I did what any mature high school senior would do.

I threw myself on the floor and had a Grade A, Tasmanian Devilish, Supreme Toddler tantrum.

I’m talking pounding the floor, kicking my feet, crying and screaming about how unfair my parents were.  And no matter how much I protested, they didn’t back down on their stance.  I wasn’t quitting and that was that.

It was a hard lesson to swallow.  In the end, I finished the course with a pretty decent grade.  And in my freshman year in college, I tested out of math classes because of my AP Calculus test result.

Thinking back to this experience made me realize something about my daughter.  She may very well be my carbon-copy perfectionist.  If it doesn’t come easy to her, then she doesn’t want to do it.

I get that.  I relate to that.  I have lived that.

Realizing that you’re not an instant natural at something can be eye-opening and humbling.  Some folks rise to the occasion and tackle that head on.  And some decide to give up.

Because giving up is the easier thing to do.

But I wouldn’t be doing my job as a parent if I let my daughter quit because the going got tough.

So, yes, I am keeping my daughter in gymnastics.  I am having the hard discussions with her about what it means to work hard, to keep trying when things aren’t a piece of cake, to find something new in the mundane because it will make you stronger.  I’m trying to convince her that with a little dedication and effort, she will see the rewards of her perseverance.

Like being able to take a Power Walking class in college while all your other friends are stuck crunching numbers in Calculus 101.

2012 favorites…

Only two more days left in 2012.  I feel like an old fogey when I hear myself utter phrases like “Where did the year go?”

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

And where the heck DID this year go?  2012 was a very full year for me, for our family.  Our kids got bigger and bolder. We moved across country and explored new terrain.  I kissed my dance career goodbye.  My thighs have achieved maximum density.

As I look to 2013, I am slowly contemplating some resolutions. Or lifestyle changes.  I haven’t solidified them yet, but the gist at the moment is less junk, more spunk.

In the spirit of reflection, I took a look back at my favorite blog posts from the past year.  Here’s a list of some of the posts I enjoyed writing the most.  The ones that stuck with me.  Perhaps they will with you too!

Top Posts From 2012…

Don’t mess with Mama bear…:  An article made me reevaluate gender roles as parents and made me realize I want my kids to see I’m just as strong and capable as Daddy.

Time out…:  Our first night away from the kids in almost two years didn’t go as well as I’d hoped.

Clean up, clean up, everybody clean up…:  An attempt to de-clutter our cramped home to put on the market.  With small children around.

Bunny hills…:  My ankles and hips still cringe at the though of my first ski experience.  May I never see a ski slope again.

Letting go…:  I don’t want my kids to grow up yet. That includes forcing them to use baby products so I can get off on the smell of Dreft.

Ode to humidity…:  My first foray into Shakespearean ranting.

Adventures in babysitters…:  Do NOT hire this chick to watch your kids.

Pounding the pavement…:  One foot in front of the other.  Moving forward.

Getting a leg up…:  Attempting to navigate my dancing hiatus, one pound at a time.

Quick get away…:  Have you had episodes of G.A.G?

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos


And to close, I say this:

Move over, 2012.  There’s something more 2013′ier.

What’s been your favorite post on Full of it this year?  What’s been the post you’ve liked writing on your own blog?  Feel free to post your link in the comments. 



Bunny hills…

Growing up in the south, I didn’t see much snow.  Actually, we didn’t see ANY snow.  Christmas mornings were often greeted in t-shirts and shorts.  I didn’t see snow for the first time until I was a freshman in high school.  We got up, got ready for school, opened the front door to head to the bus, and stood in awe at inches of freshly fallen snow.  I didn’t own a coat, or snow boots.  But it didn’t matter.  I went running in to it full tilt to experience it.

Flash forward to my adult years, and I’ve never had a winter where I wasn’t exposed to snow.  Living in New York City, snow wasn’t a pleasant experience.  Ever jump a three-foot ice puddle?  It ain’t fun.  And New York City snow is not white and fluffy, or at least not for long.   It’s black and slushy, and you certainly don’t want to dive in and make snow angels in all that filth.

When we moved to Denver, I had no interest in snow sports.  Jon has skied before and wanted to check out some of the nearby ski resorts, but I’m more content to stay in a lodge, drinking some spiked coffee or hot chocolate.  Once Mr B. got old enough, Jon enrolled him in ski school at a nearby ski area called Eldora.  It’s close by, the lift tickets are pretty affordable, and the ski school didn’t cost an arm and a leg.  Mr B’s been going to ski lessons now for two winters, and I’ve never seen him ski.  So when my brother, an avid snowboarder, came in to town this past weekend and suggested that he and I take ski lessons, I was hesitant.  But the draw was that I’d get to see my tiny five year old ski down a mountain.  We contacted Mr B’s ski instructor, who offered to give us some lessons.  Friday night, my brother Jason and I got our rental equipment.  Saturday morning, our babysitter arrived at 8am to watch Piper for the day.  And by 10am that morning, I was strapped in to skis and about to shit my pants.

I don’t know very many dancers that ski.  There’s a pretty big “I don’t wanna rupture or tear or break anything” factor involved.  And if my experience as a teenager water skiing on the lake with my father was any indication of how I’d fare in the snow, everyone at Eldora was about to get a healthy dose of my spread-eagled legs as I fell down the hill.  Our instructor, Angela, reassured me that I wouldn’t break anything and that she’d prepare me for this as well as she could.  It didn’t help that Jason, doing the lesson with me, got pretty comfortable on his skis early on.  And while I could have spent all day at the kid section and the long ride up the magic carpet, Angela and Jason were ready to move on to the slope.

What I really looked like skiing…

 The ski lift wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be (though Jason and I were privileged to see not one, but TWO groups of folks fall out of the chair in front of us at two separate occasions).  Getting down the steep part of the hill?  Yeah, I didn’t do so well.  Jon and Mr. B saw us from the adjacent slope and skied over to greet us and encourage me along down the hill.  Or maybe their motive was just to take embarrassing video of me and my Chevy Chase-like falls.  I did NOT like going down the steep part.  Angela kept yelling at me to get in to a wedge position to slow myself down (or “Pizza, Mommy!” as Mr. B screamed), but if I was turning to the right, I could never get my feet all the way around to stop.  Rather than plowing in to a small child at top speed, I chose on several occasions to just bail out of the run and fall flat on my ass, screaming obscenities along the way.  I was a flailing, uncoordinated mess.  My arms, having a mind of their own, flapped and coiled in a T-Rex sort of way that was less than graceful.  It’s sad when, as a grownup, you can stare at your small child and envy his confidence and coordination.  If anything, I was so happy to get to see Mr. B on skis.  He just exudes confidence.  And swagger, if a five-year old is capable of that.  This kid is amazing, and I continue to be very impressed.  It was no big deal to him, and I think he relished in being able to give me some tips and educate ME on something.


It wasn’t long after our lessons were over, lunch was consumed, and I’d fallen hard during a couple of runs with the family that I decided to call it quits.  Recalling that the lodge served beer, I headed over to nurse my wounds in alcoholic consumption.  This?  This I was good at.  This alpine sporting stuff is better left to my Kindergartner.  Sunday I could barely walk because my calves were in a high-level revolt from being strapped in ski boots all day.   I think I’ll just stick to dancing…