How Pro Skateboarder Tony Hawk Made Me A Better Parent

Teaching my daughter that ‘adventure boo-boos’ are part of life

I come from a family of flinchers. Well-intentioned of course but with an instinctual urge to ask “is that safe?” before proceeding. Perhaps Darwin favors this trait in humans and long ago the majority of my look-before-you-leap ancestors did not fair so well.

But when we had our daughter, I wanted to find a new intermediate point between seeking absolute safety and Wile E. Coyote. Some parenting guides suggest that asking “are you ok?” when a child falls down actually encourages them to feel *not* ok because it increases the alarm or reinforces they’ll get pleasurable soothing if they show distress. [Lest people think that I stared silently at my toddler when she tripped on the sidewalk, I substituted “you are ok!” as an assurance.] And so Adventure Boo-Boos were born.

We don’t recall when Adventure Boo-Boos officially debuted as description but it likely coincided with the debut of my daughter’s enthusiasm for climbing very high up on playground equipment or trees. Soon scrapes, bumps, skinned knees and similar were deemed “Adventure Boo-Boos” — to be celebrated not feared. Make good choices and if you still fall, the abrasion was a form of epaulette, recognizing your life experience.

Our family was a few months into Adventure Boo-Boos when we were strolling down Valencia St one weekend afternoon. Passing a streetwear shop our kid paused, noticing the television set up inside which was playing a loop of skateboarding videos. She walked in and placed herself on the couch, evidently attracted to the stunts. I sat down next to her and started explaining what she was seeing.

It was the epic 1999 X Games (coincidentally held in San Francisco) and Tony Hawk performing the sport’s first ever 900. The 900 refers to a 900 degree airborne spin, 2 1/2 rotations. As shown in the clip below, Tony tried the trick a number of times during the performance, all unsuccessfully, until he finally nailed it.

Each failure resulted in some degree of bump, bruise, or fall. After a few of these my daughter pointed to him and said “Adventure Boo-Boos?” Yup, Adventure Boo-Boos for sure, I told her and then we watched him end with a victory. She clapped. I smiled.

Parents live for these organic teachable moments so I considered it a karmic sign when the next day my friend David tweeted about fundraising for the Tony Hawk Foundation. After a quick DM exchange and small charitable donation, a signed skate deck was on its way to my house. We hung it in our breakfast nook, where it remains today.

“Astrid. I get adventure boo-boo’s too! Tony Hawk”