Friday, April 2, 2010

it's all in the ripstick

Last night, as Jack was getting ready for bed, he told me he wanted to learn the words to a song he'd seen on his favorite episode of Sponge Bob. Now, I'm in no way a fan of that painfully grating show, but the song is called "Best Day Ever." Yesterday, Jack had one of his best day's ever and it was a joy to be a part of.

We did lots of Florida shopping and on a pool toy run at Target (generally our first stop when we're down there), I asked if he wanted a ripstick—a seemingly impossible to ride skateboard derivative that has only 2 wheels and you have to wiggle constantly to keep it in motion. He's tried it before, angry frustration keeping him from ever doing anything more than falling off. He seemed intrigued, enthusiastic with a large dose of realism mixed in. He then picked out a blue one, a matching helmet, and we headed home, where we had lunch and watched the instructional dvd together. And then, with a general sense of what to do and how difficult it was going to be, we headed outside.

First of all, never try a ripstick without watching that dvd first. Just learning how to get on was key. So, Jack and I hit the perfectly flat, black pavement outside and, facing him, holding both his hands, he practiced just getting on. As I walked and pulled, he got a sense of what he'd need to do to balance. He kept thanking me for helping. Telling me how much he appreciated this time with me, how much fun it was to do it together. By the time he was down to holding one hand he told me that even though he knew he'd be able to do it on his own, he was so glad I was there. And then, minutes later as people we knew drove by, he was solo.

Those moments, when you see your child accomplish something huge for them, are nothing short of thrilling. He skated. I screamed. Jumped up and down. Ran after him to give him the hugest high five ever. As he skidded to a stop and hopped off, his face was completely lit up. He did it. And he kept going. We worked on it, together, until it was time to eat and headed back outside after dinner until it was so dark, we couldn't see. I've never seen him so determined to do something. Every time he fell, scraped his knee, scratched his elbows, banged his hands, he shook it off and got right back on.


By the time we were done for the night he was able to get on, get started by himself and was already working on turning.

Watching him I was struck by how much braver he is than me. I could never even imagine trying to balance on 2 caster wheels, needing to be in motion to be stable. I'm most stable when I'm in one place.

Whoa. I think that applies to most of my life. I'm far happier, grounded, more stable when things stay the same. I'm not the biggest fan of change and yet, in my life, change is relatively constant. When you have kids, things can change almost minute to minute. Moods, emotions, shoe sizes, friends, relationships, likes and dislikes. School breaks break up the routine. Summer sends everything into disorganized flux. New schools, school tours, birthday parties to plan. Babysitters, playdates, field trips.

And I've chosen a career path that's anything but stable. Freelance design, especially now, is up and down. And books? Every step is fraught with unknowns. Is the idea good? Does the proposal work? Who should I send it to? Will they like it/buy it? And if it's a yes, did they really mean it? Will I be able to pull it off? Can I handle the deadlines? Did I do a good job? Will the design work? Will anyone pay attention? Will it sell? Get press? Be well received?

Sometimes I feel like we're here to master lessons that are particularly challenging. I often think/feel/know that one of mine is to be ok with change, to learn to ride the waves, to live more in the moment instead of panic about what's on the horizon.

To let go of control.

To let myself fall.

(although not on a ripstick)

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