Ice, Ice Baby—by Jamie Levine

We Levine ladies are pretty big klutzes. If there’s a piece of furniture in my path, I’ll walk into it; if there’s a curb ahead of me, I’ll trip over it; and if there’s a martini in my hand, it’s destined to be spilled all over me and the guy standing next to me. I’ve amused many friends with my story of a date I went on when I was living in Alaska; the man picked me up the evening after a snow storm, and, after unlocking the passenger-side car door for me and sauntering over to the driver’s side, he looked over in distress and called, “Jamie, where are you?” I had grabbed the door handle and slipped in my heels…and ultimately slid right underneath the car. What a great first impression!

My sister and my niece share the same klutz-gene, and, unfortunately, it seems that my daughter, Jayda, has inherited it, too. Some of Jayda’s klutzy-moves are simply a result of her not paying attention; often, she’ll look over her shoulder at something and keep walking—ultimately bumping into whatever (or whomever!) is in her path. But other times, she trips, bumps, and loses her footing, just because. Because she’s a Levine. As adorable as she is, Jayda’s just like me—she’s not very graceful—and though I know it’s still too early to say for sure, when it comes to playing sports, she’s not overly coordinated. But this week, I found myself amazed by her outstanding balance…on the ice.

Several weeks ago, Library Guy and I took our kids to the ice skating rink to introduce them to a new activity, and Jayda loved being on the ice. Though she clutched my hand and slipped and tripped all over the place, every time she fell down she had a grin on her face—and the determination and strength to get right back up. When we left the rink, I asked her if she’d like to start taking ice skating lessons and her response was a resounding “Yes! Please!” I signed her up for the next available session—and she started her class last week.

When we got to the rink, Jayda helped me lace up her tiny skates and enthusiastically buckled on her new Disney Princess bike helmet as quickly as she could; then she walked right out to the rink—without even holding my hand. She joined a group of four other little girls, as two teachers led them out to the ice and seated them in tiny plastic chairs. And for the next half an hour, I couldn’t stop smiling. After listening to her teacher’s instructions, Jayda stood up, and imitated the woman’s march…and by the end of the session, she was skating all by herself. True, she was wobbly and unsure with her movements, and she fell quite a few times—but she always got herself right back up, all by herself, and continued on. And every time Jayda accomplished what the teacher asked her to do, she was rewarded with a high-five, and a proud smile was plastered on her face. She left the ice asking me, “Mommy! When can I do that again?” It was wonderful.

I, too, took ice skating lessons when I was a child—at the very same rink—but I was quite a bit older when I started. And, looking back, I remember becoming a fairly good skater, though I also remember quitting my lessons when I became fearful of making the jumps I was required to master in order to move up another level. Right now, Jayda seems pretty fearless on the ice, and that attitude will serve her well. Because skating, like life, is a balancing act, and the best thing Jayda can do is to keep having fun amidst the challenges.