Today was a big day for you. A day you’d anticipated for a long time. Your first day in hockey skates.
I loved watching your face as I emerged from the equipment room with a pair of sleek black skates with white laces instead of the usual bright blue figure skates with buckles.
I loved walking behind you as strode to the rink, a bit wobbly on those new skates but with a sense of determination that I’d never seen in you before.
You told me, “I’m going to do good today.”
And then, before the door to the rink had even closed, you were on your butt. Two more strides, and you were on your butt again.
It looked like you’d never been on skates before, not like you’d been faithfully practicing every Tuesday and Thursday morning for the past three months. Instead of joining your “fast friends,” you hung back with the rookies, taking baby steps, arms at your sides for balance, something I hadn’t seen you do in weeks.
In the observation area, I started to hear murmurs from the other moms.
“What’s wrong with number 30?”
“He’s usually zipping around the ice.”
“Maybe he has an inner ear infection.”
It was frustrating to hear.
It was frustrating to watch.
And I knew it must be even more frustrating for you.
My eyes welled with tears as I watched you lift yourself off the ice again and again, hoping that you weren’t losing the confidence that you’d built through months of hard work.
And the tears began to fall in earnest as I watched you skate off the ice at the end of 30 minutes, obviously weary and probably sore (I can only imagine the bruises you’ll have by bedtime). But I didn’t cry because you looked in any way upset. I cried because – after taking more falls than you had in your past month of classes combined – you were still wearing your ever-present grin.
“This was a tricky day,” you said matter-of-factly as you stepped out of the rink.
And then you took my hand, looked up at me with those big blue eyes and asked, “Can I wear hockey skates again on Thursday?”
And my heart swelled with pride and admiration and love.
So, yes, Anthony. You can wear hockey skates again on Thursday. And, if you want, you can wear them every day for the rest of your life.