Ruby roller skates everyday.
We don’t have a skating rink in our tiny community, and outside is still snow and mud. Not the safest skating surface for a learning six-year-old.
So she skates inside. On the carpet, on the kitchen floor. We rent both sides of a duplex, so our unused kitchen floor becomes her own private vinyl skating rink sometimes.
My girl. Oh, my girl. She loves to go fast, with her long, dark hair flying. She loves to learn how to do it the ‘right way.’ Momma, she asks me, is this how my feet should go? Can I push off with my stoppers? Watch me, Momma.
My mother would not have let me skate indoors. I can’t remember how many times I heard “Take off your skates!” as I stumbled through the front door in my bright blue sneaker skates. But I grew up in Southern California with a smooth culdesac right outside my front door.
I love that when I ask Ruby what she wants to be when she grows up, she says “a roller derby princess.” But right now, she’s only six. And she is satisfied slipping across the carpet, sometimes getting brave enough to skate on the hard floor in the kitchen. And I get a kind of thrill out of letting her break my childhood rules.
Ruby’s enthusiastic athleticism is infectious. It doesn’t have to be defiant, but it makes me want to be. She doesn’t know how to do everything as soon as she tries it, so why do I expect myself to? She has to train her little body to stay upright on roller skates, to push and roll and glide the way she wants to. She never once says, I can’t do this. I’m too young, I’m too small, I give up. When she falls, she pops back up again and keeps going.
She loves her body. She grins when she talks about being the very tallest kid in her class. She sometimes lays on her back on my bed and stretches her legs up in the air and says, “I have really long legs, don’t I Momma? Just like Auntie Jill.” What she never does is wonder whether she’s fat.
It occurred to me this morning that the best defense I have against a world that seems hell bent on turning Ruby against herself, the best way I can protect her from all out war on fat kids (whether or not she actually ever is a fat kid is entirely besides the point) is to love my own body as much as I want her to love hers.
It goes beyond my own little girl, too. The best way I can prove to anyone–my husband, my daughter on her way to college this fall, my teenage son, even you–that their body is spectacular is to truly believe that mine is, and then treat it that way.
Even my belly rolls. Even my big boobs. Even my double chin.