Roller Derby Makes My Daughter Fearless
Every Monday and Wednesday, my daughter spends her evenings with people with names like Chainsaw and Problems. They spend about an hour roughing each other up, and when she’s all done she’s usually got about a dozen new bruises and perhaps an abrasion or two somewhere. And I couldn’t be happier.
I’m not a monster. I mean, I am, but not because of this. My daughter is in roller derby, something she’s wanted to do for awhile now. And she is head-over-heels in love with it.
To understand why this is a big deal, you have to know about my kid. She is small. Very, very small. She wears bifocals and has asthma and has feelings. A lot of feelings. I love my daughter’s sensitivity but there was a time in her life when a paper cut would send her spiraling and a childhood snub would put her into a deep funk. I worried about her.
When she first wanted to do derby, I was skeptical. First off, this family is not particularly athletic. Second, derby is a contact sport. It’s a bunch of women (and sometimes men) on a flat track flinging a skater up through a wall of bodies and wheels to score points and shoving anyone else out of the way. Basically. This did not bode well for the child who stubs a toe and prescribes herself bed rest.
Turns out I am a jerk for being skeptical, because my kid has proven me wrong every step of the way, and I’m really grateful for that. She’s found her voice and her confidence and doesn’t even flinch when she loses her balance and takes a digger into the track. She just gets up and goes again. And again. And again.
She’s this new, fearless thing. Even off the track, she’s more self-assured and more bad ass and more assertive. It’s truly awesome to watch. It’s a neat moment, when your kid finds their jam. When they are babies you wonder what they’re going to be like when they get older and then one day they tell you they want to don knee highs and learn how to suicide stop and change their name to Sookie Smackhouse and you are so, so proud.
I couldn’t ask for better roll models for my girl, either, in the older skaters in the league. You have all of these women aged 18 to 50 of every shape and size in hot pants and fish nets just not giving any shits about anything other than being completely bitchin’. They take up space unapologetically while simultaneously being some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. In my life.
My daughter even convinced me to join, but at seven, she’s already kicking my ass, even in bifocals.
I think the fact that it’s roller derby and not ballet that gives this entire endeavor an additional air of “coolness” but to be honest, I wouldn’t care if her jam was ballet or pageants or just sitting really still with a beautiful frilly pink dress on, as long as she was this amped up about it.
As a mom, the best part of all of this is that she has something that I get to watch her look forward to as if every Monday and Wednesday were Christmas and then Ultra-Mega-Christmas, respectively.
And then there’s this: the other night, she stubbed a toe. I could hear the telltale intake of breath. “Okay in there?” I asked, tentatively, crossing my fingers. My answer?
“Mom, please. I’m in derby now. Nothing hurts anymore.”