Monday, December 14, 2009

Am I a Bad Figure Skating Mom? Don’t Judge Me too Harshly.



I’ve always promised myself that I wouldn’t be the mom who forces her screaming, crying kid on the ice.

Yeah, well.

Here’s the situation: Ice Girl had an all-school field trip to Milwaukee late one Friday evening. All of her friends were going; it’s an event that the kids look forward to all year and I had it on my schedule since September.

In November, her skating group scheduled their first practice for the following Saturday morning at 8 a.m. Ice Girl had ice time at 7 a.m., so I didn’t think much about it…until the bus showed up at the school Friday night at 11:30 p.m. Ice Girl was all pumped up and didn’t fall asleep until 12:30 a.m. Saturday morning.

Can you see the perfect storm developing?

I shoved her out of bed at 6 a.m., put a Pop Tart in her hand, and dumped her in the van. She fell asleep on the way to the rink and refused to wake up. Using my rule of not forcing my kid on the ice, I told her she could sleep until 7:45, which would give her 15 minutes to wake up and put on her skates.

At 7:45 she refused to move. I called her coach out to prod her. Nothing. This was a big deal. Her skating group could not continue without Ice Girl and if she didn’t make it to the practice, she wouldn’t be part of the group. This group was something she’d been looking forward to all year. She would really regret not doing it and all the other skaters would be really, really, really ticked off with her.

That’s why I made the decision to force my kid out of the van and put her on the ice with tears streaming down her face.

In the end, I asked her if she was glad she went out on the ice and participated in the group. Was she happy that I forced her out of the van?

Here’s what she said: “I’m happy you made me get on the ice, but I’m not happy about how you did it.”

I asked her what I should have done differently, but she couldn’t tell me.

Update: from reader Aaron: To me, seems like this was a no-win situation. The question is, what makes her more mad...waking up or missing being part of the group?

Update: from reader Helicopter Mom: Don't worry what it looks like, worry about what it is. And it is not a crazed sports parent forcing her kid to do something she doesn't want to do - it's an involved mom trying to keep ALL the balls in the air and let her child be involved in ALL the activities she wants to. Sadly I know how hard that is!  [...]It's hard to be a skating mom. It's hard to be a skating kid. Lots of choices and sacrifices.

Update: from reader ohjennran: As a parent you get it on both ends; if you didn't get her out there would she have asked later why you didn't make her since you knew how much she wanted to be in this group?

Update: from reader Maria: It would have been a great learning opportunity if she had chosen to sleep and miss being in the group. Sometimes it's OK to let them make the "wrong" choice.

Update: from reader Xan: The bad skating mom would have let the child sleep, not caring how it affected the group, and then gone over the coach's head to get her daughter special permission to participate even though she missed the practice.

Update: from reader Skittl1321: It's one thing to drag her into a situation that she's been looking forward to for a very long time, and that other people are counting on her to be there for. It's entirely different (and not cool) if day in and day out you put a kid on the ice who doesn't want to be there.

Update: from reader Ice Charades: [...]as she climbs up the ladder in skating, she needs to learn how to skate when she doesn't feel like it, she's really tired or she's sick. Good training.

Update: from reader Anonymous: When I was in high school my parents had a policy about "events" the night before morning practice. Whenever there was a late "event" before a morning practice I was reminded beforehand that I had already made a commitment to the team and that I would be honoring that commitment regardless of how I felt about it in the morning.

Update: from reader Anonymous: Everyday I see parents yelling in the bathrooms, stands, or parking lot at their skaters who does not want to skate. My daughter has been skating since she was three,and obliviously there were times when she did not want to skate. I never made her. Now at ten we often run into situations when skating interferes with a birthday party or another sporting event. She makes the decisions herself what she wants to do. I am not the one that has to skate, compete, and test.

So, what do you think? Am I a bad figure skating mom? Should I have shoved Ice Girl out of the van and made her put on her skates? Should I have let her miss out on the group activity? What could I have done differently? Have you ever been in this situation?

24 comments:

Aaron said...

To me, seems like this was a no-win situation.

The question is, what makes her more mad...waking up or missing being part of the group?

I think you made the best decision.

Helicopter Mom said...

Oh, I hate situations like this one!!!! You are definitely not a bad figure skating mom - you did the only thing you could do!!! (And what she wanted you to do, by the way...) Don't worry what it looks like, worry about what it is. And it is not a crazed sports parent forcing her kid to do something she doesn't want to do - it's an involved mom trying to keep ALL the balls in the air and let her child be involved in ALL the activities she wants to. Sadly I know how hard that is!

Just yesterday my daughter was scheduled to be at a dance rehearsal, choir concert and the Christmas skating show - all at the SAME TIME!!!! Would she choose between these things? No! Of course not. "Please Mom, can't you figure out a way I can do everything????" Naturally, I did. She went to one hour of the 3 hour dance rehearsal, stayed at the choir concert until her group was done (yes, we were the rude people walking out before it was over) and rushed over to the rink where we had requested her number be in the 2nd half (which it was!). I have never been so glad a day was over in my life! Naturally the night before all this happened, she had been invited to a birthday sleepover. I told her she couldn't sleep there - she has a history of being the last one awake! She was mad and there were some tears when I picked her up from the party before the kids went to sleep but I couldn't let her go into a day like that with no sleep at all!!!

It's hard to be a skating mom. It's hard to be a skating kid. Lots of choices and sacrifices. You are doing a great job and she is lucky to have you!!!

Sarah said...

Not that I have kids yet, but I would have done the same thing. You knew that she wanted to participate VERY much, and you knew that she would be angry with herself afterward if she wouldn't have gotten on the ice. I think that's part of the "mom" instinct. It would have been different if you knew deep down that she wanted to quit and not do it at all, but that wasn't the case. You did the right thing.

ohjennran said...

Not a bad skate mom!! Im sure IG knew what was going to happen that morning. She made a commitment to the group, she needed to fulfil it. It's great that you didn't let up. You did a great job. You both made the right decisions. She was able to spend time with friends and with your help, she was part of the group she wanted to be in. As a parent you get it on both ends, if you didn't get her out there would she have asked later why you didn't make her since you knew how much she wanted to be in this group?

Maria said...

I think it depends on how the group would have been affected if she wasn't part of it.

If it only affected her, I would have laid out the choice clearly and let her decide. It would have been a great learning opportunity if she had chosen to sleep and miss being in the group. Sometimes it's OK to let them make the "wrong" choice.

On the other hand, if the group would have been negatively affected, and she had made a committment to them, I would have made her skate.

Xan said...

As someone who just cheerfully dragged a screaming 4-year old through his first ice show (as the coach, not the parent) I am perhaps not the best judge, but it sounds like the right course of action to me, too.

The bad skating mom would have let the child sleep, not caring how it affected the group, and then gone over the coach's head to get her daughter special permission to participate even though she missed the practice.

Now, thatwould be a bad skating mother.

DollMum said...

You did absolutely the right thing in my book. She wanted to do both things, this time of the year is notorious for clashing or close events and making choices is part of life. It was doable, but hard and I'm sure she caught up on her sleep later.

I've had similar situations many times with my 13 year old daughter who is going through the late night owl won't get up in the morning phase (every day is a battle to get her to school on time). They want to commit to so much then have to learn how to juggle and somehow it is mum who helps them keep those balls in the air.
So however much she didn't like the way that you got her awake and on the ice, it was an important lesson for her about commitment and determination not to let others and herself down.

Skittl1321 said...

I don't have kids, but it sounds like you made the right move. It's one thing to drag her into a situation that she's been looking forward to for a very long time, and that other people are counting on her to be there for. It's entirely different (and not cool) if day in and day out you put a kid on the ice who doesn't want to be there.

heyifigureskate said...

Oh, I believe I am about your daughter's age. (give about a year or two) But, though I have never been in this exact sitation... (since I don't have early, skating practices) I believe that if this had been me I probably would've hated my mom for doing it...but in the long run I would thank her for it. I deffinately would have hated myself if I let that chance pass me up,and let the whole group down. :\

I agree with the other people also saying, it would be a no-win situation at that time...but at some point I bet it will change to a win situation.

And no you're not a bad figure skating mom. You were just trying to do what's best for your daughter. (:

Anonymous said...

Icemom,

Good Mom, Bad situation. I’m learning that skating is always making Mom’s make hard choices .You did the right thing. You just feel guilty. But, if you didn’t force her to get up, both of you would have had bigger regrets.
You’re a great Mom and mentor Icemom.

MoasMom

RedShamrock said...

Nope you did the right thing. Besides you gave IG a great "do you remember the time ..." story for future. We all have them about what our parents "made" us do giving us a chance to roll our eyes and smile at the same time.

Ice Charades said...

Not a bad Ice Mom, but a smart Ice Mom - Ice Girl would have been so upset if she had missed the practice and she would have felt very guilty for letting down the group. You knew that, so you pushed her through.

Plus, as she climbs up the ladder in skating, she needs to learn how to skate when she doesn't feel like it, she's really tired or she's sick. Good training.

Now if Ice Girl tells you how you should have woken her up properly, please let me know. Almost every morning this semester, I've had to wake my daughter out of a sound sleep to get her to school on time. She's 6, school starts at 7:30 and it takes about ten minutes to walk there. Most mornings, I get cranky.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to know what to do. She probably needed to sleep and you wouldn't want her to get injured. I probably would have done the same thing.

Anonymous said...

I think you did the right thing. When I was in high school my parents had a policy about "events" the night before morning practice. Whenever there was a late "event" before a morning practice I was reminded beforehand that I had already made a commitment to the team and that I would be honoring that commitment regardless of how I felt about it in the morning. And that if I would not honor my commitment to the team (or made a big fuss about it) that the answer would be NO to attending future "events" if they conflicted with practice time.

I have to say it was effective because no matter how late I got home the night before, I didn't make a fuss about going to practice! There is motivation in wanting to do everything when you're a kid!

Anonymous said...

I would have done the same thing. I would not have wanted to let the other skaters, parents, coachs,etc down. I often get upset when other parents tell me they cancel the lessons with the coach last minute. In my daughters coachs case, this is his career, how he earns a living. So I do not cancel last minute and in return he is very accominidating to our schedule.

Anonymous said...

Everyday I see parents yelling in the bathrooms, stands, or parking lot at their skaters who does not want to skate. My daughter has been skating since she was three,and obliviously there were times when she did not want to skate. I never made her. Now at ten we often run into situations when skating interferes with a birthday party or another sporting event. She makes the decisions herself what she wants to do. I am not the one that has to skate, compete, and test.

Anonymous said...

Every family is different and the parents who whisper under their breathe that they would never... should stop right there. These are the folks that break up clubs and foster divisions at rinks. You don't know the situation don't go there. Ask later and offer support if needed. maybe you can help carpool the kids that spends way too many hours in transit by letting them stay over some night etc. etc. in this case you did what you could. Damn the nay sayers they didn't walk in your shoes.

MVP said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jozet at Halushki said...

Oh yes. BTDT. I think a lot depends on the age of the child as well as history.

If this had been an ongoing issue with over-scheduling, and if we had already had a discussion about all the what-ifs, as well as an agreement as to what would happen *if* she came home late and *if* she decided to not get on the ice, then I may have let my kid sleep in and let the chips fall where they may. Ice skating is far more than just the discipline to learn jumps and spins; it's a vehicle for all types of life lessons regarding natural and logical consequences.

However, in the heat of a moment when everyone is caught off-guard, that's the wrong time to wonder too long and hard about "is this the right thing to do?" This was a learning experience for everyone - mom, daughter, coach - and maybe that counts most of all. From here you can now have a discussion about managing time and commitments and just where your responsibility ends and hers begins. That's going to be a gray and wavy line at times, but what a wonderful opportunity to begin discussing just how and when you will begin handing over more of that responsibility to her.

My final word: chalk it up to experience gained. No grade. No harm. No foul. The best parent isn't the one who always makes the right or best decisions. The best parent is the one who does just what you are doing: evaluating, discussing, and wondering out loud how to prepare and handle the situation next time. Gold star, Icemom!

(Sorry! I deleted the above comment. I had accidentally signed in with my daughter's account. Oops! Lol.)

heilmachine said...

You were not being one of "those" parents. You were simply making your daughter keep her word about being part of the skating group. It's a matter of being held accountable for the agreements you make.

angel said...

Was this just a Christmas number? If it was and this was first first practice I would let her make the call. I think at age 13 its something she could handle.She had to be awake enough to know that if she didnt skate, she didnt get to do the group.Part of life is really learning about how to make choices.She could have muddled though it being tired or not done it.
Unless it unusual conditions, one skater isnt doing to make or break a group number. I would have just said if you dont skate, you dont do the number. Yes, she might have been mad at you, but its not a 10 and life goes on.

IMO anyway!

Anonymous said...

I think you did the right thing by making your daughter go to the practice. Especially if it is a team practice. She has to learn to follow through with her commitments and schedule her time wisely when it comes to other events that may present a conflict with her commitments.

I have a 14 year old daughter and recently she has been giving problems when it comes to following through with her commitments. She volunteers with our learn to skate program and helps the coaches during the classes. She also helps the coaches with the synchronized skating practices. She always complains when it comes time to go and volunteer but I remind her that the coaches are expecting her to be there and they really need her help. When she gets to the rink and finally gets on the ice she always has a good time and is glad that she was able to help.
These moments may be difficult in the beginning but they do help to build character and teaches our skaters how to be more responsible with their time and other peoples time.
Don't give up and keep up the great parenting. Fellow Skating mom of a teenage skater, Season Williams

Anonymous said...

Mom you did good. Your not the drill sargent but your not the push over. Sometimes they need someone to push them, the key is to know when to push and how hard to push...or to back off. Still trying to figure it out myself. The skater/mom thing I think i'm good with, it is those back stabbing other mom's that I'm trying to learn to deal with...boy can they be nasty!!!!

Tim @ arkansas said...

I think you just made the best decision for your child. But I really hate situations like this.