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Skate ramps: A story about learning grounds

Updated: May 1

Post by Amanda

Seven years ago, my spouse and children designed and built a skateboarding area in our backyard. Two half-pipes, a ramp, and a platform gave them lots of room to practice riding and doing tricks. We have a nice collection of memories, some captured on video, of them trying, trying, trying, and finally mastering new things, mostly with smiles on their faces. (In case you are wondering, no, I never did tricks, but I did roll around on the flat part once and I was the helmet/kneepad/elbow pad police thank you very much.)


A couple of weeks ago, they tore it all down.


Bit by bit, they took apart the pieces that had been joined together, sawed them up into manageable pieces, and hauled them off to their final resting place.


I sent my spouse a picture from the time it was being built. The dogs didn’t have gray hairs on their chins, the kids were way shorter, we all had fewer wrinkles. I felt nostalgic and sad about those days being gone.


His response: “It had a good run. We learned a lot about falling and failing.”


He’s right. My kids are great at falling, literally and physically. They know how to hold their bodies when they fall so that they don’t get hurt playing sports. They’re also good at moving on when something doesn’t go their way the first time, or when they don’t immediately experience success – in school, on the basketball court, or with relationships. Speaking of relationships, skateboarding taught them a lot about how you do friendships in the midst of trying new things.


I didn’t love watching them get hurt and I don’t miss the trips to urgent care that came with the hobby, but seven years later I can see the good it did them. I can say with a great deal of confidence they would not have learned these things so deeply or sustainably from a book or a class.


Where’s your learning ground? Where do you allow yourself the space to be shaped by the experience of trying new things, not getting them right the first time, allowing others to witness your falling? Where on your calendar is time set aside for silliness or something you’ve never done before? If you’re coming up short, that’s OK. You’re not the only one. About a month ago, I realized I didn’t have much of that either.


Then I signed up for an adult jazz class and all of that changed. Need I say more? Let’s just say I’m glad there are neither mirrors nor cameras in the studio.


The ground is now bare where the ramps used to be. There’s a new vision now for what will go there, something that will serve us well for the next seven years at least, probably longer. For now, I am grateful for what those ramps taught, and for the nudge they provided to step into some fun, potentially embarrassing, socially safe space to do my own failing and falling.


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