An Open Letter to the Skateboarders at the City of Waterloo Skate Park
I’m a mom of an eight-year-old skateboarder, and I spent nearly every day of this entire summer with him at the skate park. Most of the time he’s buzzing around on his skateboard, but sometimes we just hang back to watch you guys. It really is impressive. My son looks up to you, he talks about you at the dinner table, and he spends countless hours practicing the moves you’ve perfected.
Your skateboarding culture is misunderstood, and as a result, you are often misunderstood as well. As a mindfulness coach it’s my job to observe, and it is through these steady observations that I have discovered that skateboarders are a force to be reckoned with, and there are some serious life lessons being developed at that skate park.
Here are the biggest life lessons I’ve taken from you this summer.
You are only in competition with yourself. You can learn something from the guy beside you, but ultimately it’s you nailing your trick that brings you closer to your goal. That’s a great quality to have.
You get right back up after you fall, and you get up fast! You realize that staying down serves no purpose, and in fact, can cause harm to both yourself and others around you. If you fall (or fail) you bounce back up, dust yourself off and try it again. I admire that.
You set goals and stick with them. Patience and perseverance are the keys to success. I’ve watched you master manoeuvres only after days and sometimes weeks of practice and patience. In a world filled with instant gratification, patience is a crucial life skill to maintain.
You are a misunderstood group. Society labels you as troublemakers, but I’ve spent the entire summer watching you, and you are far from troublemakers. Yes, the occasional swear word slips from your mouth, but to be honest, sometimes they slip from mine too. You not only look out for the ‘little boarders’ but you check in with them when they fall. You are smart, witty and athletic guys. You are some one’s role model.
You could be the teachers of mindfulness. Focused attention, stress relief, mind-body connection—you’re pretty much a mindfulness guru on a skateboard. Mindfulness is about being in the present moment, and as you know, when you’re going hard at a trick, the only place you can be is there. No thoughts, no distractions; just focused concentration. That’s mindfulness and that’s pretty cool.
A friend recently asked me, “Are you okay that Q (my son) is turning into a ‘skateboarder guy’?” And it wasn’t so much the question that surprised me, but the negative connotation that it took. Am I okay with my son being a skateboarder? Am I okay with him learning about consequences, practice, patience, and endurance? Am I okay with him surrounding himself with peers who build each other up by motivation? Am I okay with him learning about overcoming his fears and reaching set goals, which as a result will help build his confidence and self-esteem? Am I okay with him creating a culture where seven-year-olds not only coexist with 17-year-olds but thrive and build an amazing sense of community?
Yes. Yes, I’m okay with all of that. In fact, I can’t really think of much more I’d want for my eight-year-old skateboarding son.