Two years ago, Liam had his birthday party at Laid-Back Fitness, a local gym that offers obstacle training courses. He had such a great time that we later signed him up for “ninja skills” classes. The results are amazing! Liam is a bright boy (I know all mothers say that of their children, but he catches on quickly.) As he entered first grade, the work became more challenging and he struggled with struggling. Ninja skills classes created meaningful perseverance. Liam really didn’t care about learning place value, but he wanted to climb the tall ramp and ring the bell at the ceiling. I’ve watched him spend forty-five minutes trying to cross cannonball alley. There is nothing greater than seeing a beaming proud when he masters something for the first time. Ninja skills classes helped Liam learn how to struggle. When he gets frustrated about something that keeps alluding him, I remind him of all the things he previously thought he couldn’t do and, if he works hard, he will reach his goals.
Liam’s perseverance is contagious. Within a few months, I was taking classes with him and signed up for my first obstacle race. While I’ve taken weights courses for years, I discovered how much I enjoyed the challenge of heavy lifting. I love everything about it. I love getting sweaty simply by picking things up. I love seeing what my body can do. I love feeling myself get stronger. I even love when DOMS show themselves two days later. (DOMS stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.)
My body strength is funny. Every aspect of my strength is countered by a weakness. I can deadlift 165 pounds but can’t do a pull-up. This amuses me that I can lift my body weight but can’t pull it. While I’ve dreamed of being able to do a pull-up for years, my first goal is to cross the monkey bars. During Bolderdash, I was able to do four of the monkey bars. Because I am always trying to help Liam, he is more than happy to “train” me to cross the monkey bars.
Yesterday, we went to the local park. He has skills testing next week and wants to practice a few climbing moves. Once we got the playground, it became clear that his biggest goal was to help me cross the monkey bars. He demonstrated how to do it several times, explaining momentum and pacing. He was so proud of himself for being able to teach me something. I loved seeing how much of myself came back out of him. He explained things slowly, chunking information. He asked questions to ensure I understood what he was saying. He modeled monkey bar crossing several times, offering to “meet me int he middle of the bars” so I could follow his lead. When I worry that I am not properly raising him, I need to remember moments like these.
He decided to sit at the top of a landing by the slide so he could see what I was doing, cheering me on and reminding me what I needed to do. He cheered me on, gave me support, and told me what I could do to improve. He says he wants to be a teacher when he grows up (or a ninja, pilot, or race car driver). He definitely has the teacher gene in him.
By the end of the “training session,” I was able to cross six monkey bars, two more than I could complete three weeks ago. I’m glad Liam sees me struggling and trying to improve. I think he will be more excited than me when I finally cross those monkey bars!