Little Skater (updated)

I blame the snow tires. My husband got them put on our van the other day. Then, needing space to tote the other set of tires back home, he took my stroller out of the van and left it in the garage. I didn’t realize it was missing till I got to the roller rink. Now here I stood in the parking lot with seven kids and no stroller.

What a pain, especially here. At this roller rink moms are allowed to push strollers out on the floor so that babies can get in on the skating action. Or at least babies whose mothers remember their strollers. I herded my children across the parking lot and inside, mulling over what to do with a bored two year old for two hours while her older siblings whizzed around the rink.

Inside the dim building, music blared. My big kids scattered like dandelion fluff to find friends. I plopped the two-year-old on a carpeted bench and knelt to get skates on my four-year-old, who skated away happily as soon as I released her. A friend came over to greet me.

“I forgot my stroller,” I complained. “She’s going to be so bored.”

“Why not rent her some skates?” my friend suggested.

“Yeah, maybe…” I said, looking at my two year old. “She’s pretty little, though.”

Or was she? Maybe we should give it a try. Heck, even if she didn’t like the skates, it might keep her occupied for a little while.

“Do you want to skate like the big kids?” I asked my little one.

She nodded, a grin spreading across her face. Over at the skate counter I paid for the skates. As I wrestled the skates on over her little pink tennis shoes, she squirmed excitedly. I kept up a cheery chatter, but inside I found myself hoping she wouldn’t like it. She’s too little, my heart kept saying forlornly. She can’t possibly be old enough to skate. She’ll probably ask to have them off as soon as she falls a time or two.

Up on her feet, my baby headed off confidently, falling seconds later.

“Ooh, big bump!” I said cheerily, and helped her scramble to her feet. The ache in my heart was growing. My baby.

Off she went again and fell again and got up again, over and over without a whimper. By the time she’d been skating ten minutes, she was falling less often, and she’d decided she was too big to hold mommy’s hand. She also figured out how to swing her arms for forward momentum. I walked sideways in a protective crouch, ready to catch her when she fell. The ache in my heart was blooming.

By the time she’d been skating half an hour, she sometimes went twenty whole feet without falling. I was walking a little straighter, my stance was more relaxed, and a reluctant pride was blossoming in me. Look at this little turkey, I marveled, skating as if she’s been skating for months! Even if I did remember the stroller next time, she wouldn’t want it. She’s growing up this very moment, right before my eyes. No more stroller baby. Now she’s a skater.

My baby. I’m crying inside as I bid her goodbye.

But this little girl who’s skating alongside me so resolutely, so engrossed in her new-found skill? She amazes me.

The ache in my heart sits companionably beside a newly swelling pride. Next time, instead of that forgotten stroller, I think I’ll bring the camera.

Look at my little girl go!

{ 23 Comments }

  1. Just what I was thinking, you need a picture!! My little one wears his skates around he house more than shoes! And I let him, because I was NEVER allowed to wear mine in the house!

  2. Oh my, I am struggling with my 2 year old growing up. I hate it with a passion. The thought of never having my OWN little one around kills me inside. But seeing her grow in to a beautiful pre schooler makes my heart leap.

  3. Precious, precious memory.

  4. Dude. I cried.

  5. My tears creeped up and spilled over.
    Sturdy Girl, and Proud Momma!

    I had to laugh at Toni there on the first comment. My sons wore rollerblades in the house because I was never allowed to, either. And recently, the scooter was seeing some action going down the hall, just for grins.

  6. “The ache in my heart sits companionably beside a newly swelling pride.”

    That’s such a good line – sometimes I have difficulty allowing those two feelings to co-exist – which leads to denial – which leads to feeling down. It’s good to give ourselves permission to mourn what we lose as well as celebrate what we gain. Good for us and especially good for our kids.

    Thanks Mary – even without a camera, I could picture the whole scene.

  7. I feel your pain. I sometimes joke with my Nicholas that I am going to have to stop feeding him because he is just growing too fast. Of course, this is a 3 year old who can wear a size 5 pant. I realize sometimes that I am not raising children but weeds because they are just growing so fast.

  8. Beautiful post. I feel that combination of pride in my gorgeous growing kids and wait-come-back often myself.

  9. “The ache in my heart sits companionably beside a newly swelling pride.”

    That is a wonderful line. I cried when I read this post. As I struggle with the ache/pride over my growing-up-almost-3 year old, I can really relate to this post. My youngest is no longer a baby. What ache and pride there is in that for us mamas.

  10. I absolutely enjoyed this post — and you’re whole site! I’m subscribed.

    Thanks for sharing that story 🙂

  11. sorry…that’s “your” whole site. Can’t believe I did that. lol

  12. yep, it is posts like these that make me a regular reader! In real life I have too many friends who are eager to have their kids grow up. Not me! I love the baby stage.

    I have a 22 month old who is growing up too fast! I just realized over the holidays that somewhere along the line we probably used the ERGO for the last time (and Mary I remembered a similar post you did about that), no roller skating here yet but he can dribble a soccer ball, climb to the top bunk of the bunk bed and swim like a fish.

    You express so well the pain and pride of parenting. Thank you!

  13. I’m smiling as I type this. My little three year old just got roller skates for Christmas. She pleaded for me to put them on her this morning – there’s a whole routine: helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, padded gloves, then skates. As I helped her stand up in her room (on the carpet), she stared at the wood floor just outside in the hallway. My daughter’s little eyes looked from me, to the carpet, and out the door to the wood floor, then again met my eyes. “Not today”, she said very quietly. Ibreathed a sigh of relief and began to take off the skates and all the protective equipment. I’m right there with you, feeling those ‘she’s too little’ feelings!

  14. Ooooh, Mary! My heart rode those swells of emotion with you as I read it. What a moment in time.

  15. This is a precious post. It is hard to let go. The years go by far too quickly. My youngest granddaughter is the same age as your little one. It seems she was just an infant a minute ago.
    Don’t you just marvel at how brave the little ones are? Just watching them learn to walk (or skate) is a life lesson. If they gave up after one or two falls, they would still be sitting around when they were grown. I think how often I give up after one failure or fall. They are just amazing.
    Happy New year to all of you!!

  16. We just had the same experience last week with my oldest who is 2 3/4! We got so many stares but many smiles! Congrats to your “baby” and (hugs) to your Momma’s heartache.

  17. I just did a great big outloud AWWWWW and now my husband is looking at me all funny. But, that was a beautiful post.

  18. Wow! How rare and special to watch a development happen right in front of you. Happy New Years!

  19. Oh – it makes me cry……and my 4 yr old tells ME daily that she doesn’t want to grow up…if she only knew how badly I don’t want her to grow up either!!!

  20. What a wonderful story and a great memory for you. It’s hard to see our little one’s growing up right before our eyes.

    I would love to see pictures the next time you take her.

  21. Beautiful post. I just found you through Queen Beth. I really had a lot to say, so I wrote my own post here.

  22. How adorable! Those are some sweet skates- baby no more! *sniff*

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