A Skill: Eskimo Rolls


Job has decided that he wants to kayak down a river.  However, there are a couple of things that need to happen before he does that.  First he needs to be comfortable in the kayak. Second, he needs to be comfortable upside down in the kayak.  Third, he needs to be able to take pull his skirt and do a wet exit in the kayak.  The eskimo roll, well, that would be nice.  So he's been reading about kayaking, watching videos and practicing his rolling.  The first time he mentioned it to me, I was a nervous wreck.  The thought of him in the pool upside down about killed me!  He assured me that it was no problem and promptly placed the kayak in the pool, put on the spray skirt and worked on bracing, and paddling.  Then came the rolling part.  I held my breath as I watched him line up his paddle, lean to one side and flip the kayak over.  When he didn't flip back over, my heart raced as I watched him suck in air and "doggy paddle-like" over to the side of the pool and haul himself up.  That did it.  I couldn't keep watching that awkward side stroke as he lifted his head above water.  A rule was formed immediately.  If he could not immediately roll back up, he was to try again and then if he couldn't roll up a second time, he had to pull the skirt and do a wet exit.  I really didn't want him to develop a bad habit of the side stroke.  It was so difficult not to race over and help him.  It took every bit of will power to stay and watch and let him work it out. I was never going to be on the river with him and I can't rush in and rescue him when I am uncomfortable. This is his deal, his interest, his goal.  So I did what I could to encourage him and I grabbed my camera instead.  There is something about having a piece of glass between me and the activity.  Somehow I become a little bit more objective and detached.  I use this trick on the soccer field, the wrestling mat and now I guess with the kayak in the pool.  With this "crutch" for me, we spent the next couple of hours working on rolling for him with me watching, taking photos, and encouraging.  It is still difficult not to rush in, but I guess at some point, we parents need to step back and let them try.






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