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Eva Glettner Headshot

Let Your Kid Fail

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"You are having his birthday party WHERE?"

I remember the looks of disdain that I received from the parents of my son's classmates when I invited them to his sixth birthday party at the skate park. It was as if I was proposing a party in a garbage dump.

"Is that even safe?"

I explained to them that helmets are required at this particular park, but that all of the safety gear is recommended. Scooters are also allowed for those that don't own skateboards. I told them that I have a ton of extra stuff that they can share so nobody would be required to buy anything to participate. But it wasn't the cost that they were scared of, no that wasn't it. They were terrified of the concept and they turned that terror into judgments about improper party venues. (It's a park, people! Not a junkyard!). They thought I was a crazy mom for proposing a birthday party there -- downright irresponsible, in fact.

This went on for days. People really wavered about RSVPing. I had no idea that this was going to cause so much drama. My son loves skateboarding, and he really wanted to share the fun with his class. Suddenly I was fielding phone calls from overprotective moms and dads (read: nearly the entire class) about safety and intricate details of the park's layout. It was wild. To be honest, some of those bounce house places are infinitely more dangerous, plus this was not a drop-off party. That meant that all of the parents would be on hand to make sure that everyone was okay.

I seemed to be doing an okay job of convincing everyone that I wasn't in fact nuts, and that everyone would in fact have fun. Then I received the phone call of all phone calls from a mom. "My son has never been on a scooter or a skateboard. I don't want him to feel bad." I explained that most of my son's friends are also newbies, and they could all relish this opportunity together. "No, you don't understand, I don't want him to fail." I took a deep breath. Kids need to fail sometimes. Believe me. If you grow up believing that everything everywhere is attainable, life will really be hard to stomach when mom and dad aren't there.

I have a friend who called her mom crying after her first day at work because her boss was terribly mean and the work was unbelievably boring. Her mom couldn't intervene, but this came as a shock to my friend. Her mom had always been there and never provided my friend with the tools to cope. Okay, that friend is actually me. By creating a wonderful bubble for me, my loving parents never let me falter. Let me tell you something, not being prepared is so much worse than a few tears in the short run.

I told the parent worries about their child failing to let her son at least come to the party and maybe he would change his mind. She agreed and I was psyched that he was going to participate. He ended up watching from the bleachers, but he considered hopping on the board a few times. And you know what? I dug him for that. He showed up.

Well, that was exactly one year ago. Everyone is excited about this year's birthday extravaganza. It's a new class so I know that I will be fielding more phone calls. But you know what? I'm okay with that. And maybe this will be the year that the sweet boy from Room 15 goes on a skateboard for the very first time, falls down, and gets right back up.