Monday, September 13, 2010

Welcome to Alpha One

It's always an indicator of good things when your co-workers ask you if you have any plans for the weekend, and you realize you'll either be in a cold rink or toiling at a sewing machine.

Skating has taken on a more serious note, as I realized there are just seven short weeks until the Competition. Two of those weekends will be eaten up by a Wedding and a Tradeshow I need to attend, both in October. September is really my only month to get my end of this squared away (Costume, Music, Chauffer and Bill Payer.) I must also find a suitable person to watch K while I'm away and take him to the rink over the weekends I am gone. Fortunately we live within walking distance to the rink, so it's easy when we factor in grandparents.

This weekend was the first round of Group Lessons, Fall Session. We arrived twenty minutes early, just to get changed, get into skates and get settled. As usual, it was chaos in the lobby. Children were everywhere, the rental counter was a disaster, and there were the obligatory children in snowsuits for their first time on the ice. Mothers were learning the hazards of toepicks and blades while still in their summerwear and sandals, fielding kicks and jabs from children still getting over their clumsy feet. Have you ever realized that no matter where you sit at a restaurant, your child will always find a way to kick you under the table? Skating is just like that, only with steel blades and sharp points. I always wear jeans and closed toed shoes, but even that sometimes isn't enough. I picked up K for a big hug before he went out to warm up, and the back of his blade nailed raw flesh on my ankle, just behind my Achilles tendon. Thank god he had the guards on, otherwise I'd have had to excuse myself for stitches. I now call them Mom Guards.

We went into the rink just to exit the noise and confusion of the lobby, where we met our friends and had a happy reunion. Myself and my friend S excused ourselves from the kids to take a walk and see who was around. Yes, we were snooping. We peeked into the Pre-FS Practice Ice on the small rink, where I saw Nutso had bought an hour for her kids, Shuffles, Precious and That Other Girl. They were goofing off amidst Coach R who was trying to give a lesson. I was irked. I had been told that kids had to be 8 years old before going onto Practice Ice alone, and last weekend's incidents had showed me why. Yet there were her kids, on ice and without supervision. Nutso was at the door, arms folded and shouting at them, same as she had done last session. I just let it go, thinking that if Nutso is nuts enough to send Shuffles and That Other Girl out alone, then she's more nuts than I imagined.

Pre-Alpha classes were just about full, Alpha Classes also full, Beta Classes were the biggest I'd ever seen them. If this is Fall, then Winter will be quite the party. Coach distribution was met with trepidation; A1 was given to Coach L, which had Nutso threatening to call the Police should she grab or knock Precious around like she did in PA1. "Ohh, I hate dat woman," she glared out at the kids on the far end of the rink. Precious, to her credit, was skating fine, far away from Nutso who seemed to have given up standing at the door for now.

This session's round of PA2 had us playing "Guess that Coach," as we watched a new guy whizz and whirl around his wobbly charges. Shuffles had been graduated to PA2, and was now flinching and grinning at his daredevil coach, now walking heel-to-toe towards the kids and telling them to get off the wall. PA1 started out big, but thinned out as the kids with skillz were moved around to where they should be. Beta Coaches were the Old School coaches, the Older Gentlemen normally seen with the FS Sessions that go on right before ours. I know one of them is vaguely Eastern European; much like Coach L, he has a thick accent and frequently lapses into another language.

Parents seem to fall into two camps when it comes to Skating Class; those who dress too much and those who dress too little. The Obligatory Snowsuit Kids were skating right next to kids in Leotards or full on Skating Costumes complete with spangles. We even had a hot pink Tutu this time. In addition to the collage of clothes, there was the weird amalgamation of skates on the ice. Kids in traditional figure skates were looking might professional alongside the clonking plastic Neil Armstrong Skates on the Moon edition. One set had S and I scratching our heads; the blade was shaped like a hockey skate but it had a toepick, with a big white plastic boot that more resembled a cast than footwear. I would swear that girl had her street shoes on within those monsters, but she was doing some killer crossovers.

S and I chatted about warm things; Coffee, Chicken Pot Pie and Chili. The rink is getting progressively colder as the outside temperatures drop. Nutso sat with us, glaring at Coach L and repeating her threats about the police. Talk of Sweet Pork Chili, interspersed with police dispatch times and mentions of pink tutus, had us so distracted I didn't notice K's accident. Class ended, the kids came off the ice, and the parents gathered them up to make for the next activity. K made his way up the stairs, and then pulled up his pant leg, revealing a cut.

"Oh, no, Baaayyyybeeeee," I fell to his aide. "What happened?"

"The girl next to me fell, and her blade hit me," he shrugged. No big deal. I was pleased. One session into A1, and already his crossovers are much more solid, and he wasn't derailed by an accidental injury. I bought him flowers all the same. At every public session he has been spinning and finishing with a flourish, then asking for flowers. (I told him I would have to bring him flowers after his competition, as it's traditional to give flowers after a performance. Now he wants flowers after every hop and dip.) By my estimation, a cut from a skate blade deserves flowers.

Forms for the Christmas Show were in the lobby, and it's a whopping $65 to participate. Kind of steep, but when you consider that the kids are getting a costume and gobs of ice time, it's a bargain. K is still hestitant, ask him Monday if he wants to do the show and he'll say no. Ask him again Wednesday and he'll say yes. I'm going to err on the side of performing and sign him up. It will be good for him. He keeps wanting to be in some kind of show, and I think all he needs is a solid push to get him over this lack of self-confidence. He is scared of falling and being embarassed, but I keep telling him that there are no rotten tomato salesmen in the lobby.

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