Parenting was hard even for Albert Einstein. I mean, he is the man who defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Clearly, he had that breakthrough after commanding “indoor voices!” and hearing no reduction in volume.
I don’t understand most of what Albert said, but I can keep up with him on this one. Preach, Albert. Preach.
I feel myself getting crazier every day as a parent, and I’m not even five years into my gig. By the time my daughter is in high school, I’ll probably consider myself someone she likes talking to.
Every day, I think offering my toddler a snack is the ultimate problem-solver. Every night, I think leaving a light on will mean my preschooler will stay in her bed. And every time I come up with some hare-brained idea about a wholesome family adventure, I think it will go off without a hitch if I talk about it with high-pitched enthusiasm and organize it down to the last Disney princess accessory.
It’s delusions like these that lead you to standing on a bumpy ice rink in a snow storm with one child crying next to you and the other crying in front of you as your husband falls, in slow-motion, from a standing position to a he-will-be-complaining-he-threw-out-his-back-from-the-fall-for-days position.
Allow me to back up.
The big-ticket item my daughter threw down for Santa this year was ice skates. Being a good guy, and perhaps something of a champion for lost causes, Santa delivered the ice skates. They are pink and white, with dull double-blades and hopefully a high resale value.
My enterprising daughter recently decided it was time to put those skates on some actual ice, as nature and Fogdog intended. Because I feel like a good way to ruin anything is to blow it completely out of proportion, I set a date for the inaugural skate and talked it up for days beforehand. Brushing teeth, bedtime stories, finding lost mittens: these all became occasions for ramping up expectations.
The day dawned, gray and chilly. We instituted a countdown for the arbitrarily appointed hour of The Skate: 10 a.m., Eastern Standard Time. We wrestled our way into snow gear, stocked the diaper bag with celebratory snacks, and waved a triumphant goodbye to our cat.
When we arrived at the public rink in Falmouth, it was closed. That simply became a sign that our daughter was destined to skate in Yarmouth. Onwards to Yarmouth.
By the time we made rink-fall, it was snowing and the temperature was plummeting. I shoved the skates on my daughter’s feet, stumbled through 18 inches of snow with her on my hip, and eased us onto the ice. We waited for my husband to arrive so that he could witness the glory up close. His trek from car to ice was slowed because he was carrying our son in an L.L. Bean backpack contraption. Neither of them seemed terribly confident with the situation.
With everyone in place, my daughter took one step and began crying. She felt unsteady, scared, and “slippery.” I held her hand and started shouted encouraging things, like “You’re the one who wanted to skate!” My husband decided that she needed something to hang onto and push. Something other than her mother.
He went back to the car, got her car seat, and gingerly returned to the rink. As soon as his booted foot made contact with the ice, he was airborne. He landed, hard, on his wrist and his backside, which was populated by that L.L. Bean contraption and that son.
Now everyone was crying. (In my defense, I was only doing it on the inside.) We quickly agreed it was time to leave. Back at the car, the children expressed their discontent at not being able to feel their extremities, and I wondered why I couldn’t feel my optimism.
Then I looked at the clock and realized that we’d been at the rink for a total of seven minutes.
But I’m sure that next time, if I just make the whole thing seem more exciting and overblown, skating will be a huge success.
Abby Diaz grew up in Falmouth and lives there again, because that’s how life works. She blogs at abbysleftovers.blogspot.com and hellogiggles.com/abby-diaz, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Abby on Twitter: @AbbyDiaz1.