Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I have a habit of assigning Nicknames to people I don't know. This is why it's a good idea to introduce yourself to people, lest you find yourself with an unfortunate Nickname. The name I gave this kid is Shuffles, because that's how he skates.

I have to give this kid some props. He's maybe no more than six, and I think there's some developmental issues going on. He speaks and moves very deliberately, and mom seems oblivious to it. I don't know the whole story and she's not volunteering, so until I find out some dirt on the internets, I'm in the dark. He has two sisters, and I call his mom Nutso. They started group lessons at the same time as K. They all shared the same PA1 class.

Remember the post about the first day of PA1? *bam* Down. *bam* Down. *bam* Down. That whole cycle of falling and getting up is dependent on the child moving at all. You can't learn if you don't move. If you won't move, you can't fall down. Logically, if you aren't falling, you aren't learning.

PA1 starts the kids off by "Marching." Marching is directly what the name implies. The kids are told to hold out their hands as though on a table, and they attempt to walk on the ice. It's a brutal process, but within a few minutes most of them have it. Marching involves lifting ones feet off the ice, one after the other.

Shuffles did not lift his feet. He did not bend his knees. His lower body seemed encased in cement. He planted both blades on the ice, waggled his hips in some attempt at forward motion, and moved at no more than one inch per hour with his body and face frozen in sheer terror. His progress was glacial. The coaches brought out the "trainers," those goofy walker-type things normally reserved for the Tots. Shuffles moved no faster. But Shuffles did not fall.

The second week was a repeat of the first. As was the third. And the fourth. And the fifth. Week Five is an evaluation week, and Coach L did not bother evaluating Shuffles. While other kids were getting the hang of a one-foot glide, Shuffles did not lift his feet. He simply waggled his hips like a paralyzed duck, his body solid in his snowpants and full-on winter gear. Nutso complained, whereupon Coach L showed her impatience with him and stated, "He can't skate."

Now, here's where I had a problem:

Shuffles, despite his slow going, WAS progressing. His progression, however, was not measured in the distance of his one-foot glide nor in his ability to stop. His progress was the slow easing of his posture, the smile that grew on his face every week, the minute tick of his comfort level increasing on the ice. He WAS getting the hang of things, he was just getting it ever so much slower than the other kids. This is where and why I think there are some developmental issues that aren't being addressed, and this is a big hindrance to Shuffles' progress.

What Coach in their right minds, especially a Coach for six year olds in a group class, states to a parent "He can't skate" while HE is within earshot. What the fuck, seriously? I personally can't think of anything more damaging to a kid other than outright hitting them. This Coach did it, and this is why if K ever gets her for a Coach again, I will move him to a different class. Had I been Nutso, I would have gone right to the Skating Director.

Needless to say, Shuffles did not pass PA1. He repeated PA1, and he shuffled his Duck shuffle again for ten weeks. Before anyone starts going on about how maybe he can't skate, consider this: Shuffles can now Shuffle backwards. Shuffles can now perform a small swizzle. He bends his knees to dip. Shuffles now LIFTS HIS FOOT OFF THE ICE and attempts a one foot glide. Back in March, this would have been unthinkable. Now, I ask you, how many kids would have heard some Bitchtastic Coach say in angry words to their mother "HE CAN'T SKATE" and take the class again? How many kids would have that kind of resilience to get back on the ice and try again? In this age of "participation medals" and "everybody wins", not many. So, I have a lot of respect for Shuffles.

He wants to play hockey. While I think he should wait a few years for his skating to improve before he goes out for the team, I think he should go for it.

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