As a parent, I pretty much exited the “charted milestone” era when I stopped militantly tracking what percentile my baby’s head, weight or height was at and realized that my child’s ability (or inability) to stack 3 blocks by 18-months was likely not a definitive and final assessment as to whether she might one day become and architect (because if I’d known she was being tested we would have practiced, dammit!).
That’s probably about the time my eldest daughter started tracking other skills as measures of late pre-school/early elementary school success.
These weren’t things like “knowing my alphabet”, “writing my name!” or “counting to 20!”. The bucket-list instead included things like being able to walk up the slide, “do” the monkey bars, ride a bike with no training wheels and, this year? Mastering a handstand.
Now, I understand the importance of physical milestones to a child. I was an uncoordinated kid. Last kid in my class to master skipping. I also remember being mocked for my training wheels (by a friend who, as it turned out, still had hers).
My mom tells this story about how I had to write about my proudest life moment when I was in, I think, Grade 3, and she was horribly embarrassed by the fact that, as a Straight A student with much to be proud of, my little essay was, upon deep reflection, about how I finally learnt to hop on one foot.
So I appreciate that the struggle’s REAL.
I just don’t remember it being about handstands.
I didn’t realize the importance of the handstand until we went to a baseball game this past summer with a friend who also had a 7-year-old daughter and I ended up spending a large part of the game in the family play area trying to teach them both the difference between a cart-wheel and a round-off (important “pre-handstand” skills) and how to do a handstand.
Please don’t ask me who won the game.
What I do remember? Getting home from the game and going into the backyard in the dark with my then 6-year-old to KEEP PRACTICING handstands against the back fence.
When we next went to the pool, MAN did I have her attention when I explained that getting rings off the bottom (ie: getting into that upside down position) would help her master handstands (and diving, but whatever).
She and my 4-year-old also now do them by crawling up the dining room wall.
I will have to take a nostalgic photo of the footprints before we paint that again.
I at least comfort myself that it’s handstands and not hockey.
We have a family legend – a story still told – of when my brother and I were young, my mother was out, and my father thought it would be okay to let us play hockey through the kitchen and dining room.
My then 4-year-old brother hit his forehead on the side of the cupboards and ended up needing stitches.
He looked a bit like Frankenstein for years when angry and my mother never forgot coming home to an empty home with a blood soaked towel on the counter beside a note that read:
Took the kids to the hospital. Don’t worry.
I’m hard pressed to figure out how the handstands on our dining room wall can end in a similar way so I’m okay with it.
Indeed, the Internet tells me I should be pretty great with it. Handstands help develop balance, upper arm strength, coordination.
All good stuff.
I also, sigh, found a by-age milestone guide to measure my child’s progress, should I choose. Apparently age 7-8 is about right, for what it’s worth. Thanks PBS.
But if it’s all the same to everyone else, I’ll let my girls discover as they choose. If this summer is all about mastering these skills, great. If we’ve moved on to something else, that’s all good too. Indeed, currently my 7-year-old is determined to master skipping and has just figured out the coordination to start really practicing. Meanwhile my 4-year-old has figured out – and so is currently enamoured by – somersaults.
As long as they are doing something active, I’m pretty much all good.
What physical skills did you or your kids struggle to master as a kid?