Sunday, November 7, 2010

First Places, all around!

And he won. Both events, even the compulsory which he hated and had a fall. (Backward Swizzles of all things. He got carried away and went too wide.)

It was quite the day.

We left home on time at six thirty, arriving at the rink shortly after seven. We checked in, gave up our music, and waited. Coach showed up not long afterwards, and took Stitch aside for some wake-up jumping rope and an off-ice run of his program. Stitch was wide awake, bouncy and giddy. He knew that all this excitement was about him and his program.

Dad took him to the men's room to change. (No boy's dressing room.) I hung out anxiously. The vendors spoke to me and tried to push some rather nice soakers on to me. (Very nice soakers, but we all know how I feel about soakers.) Dad and Stitch came back, dressed and ready for skates. Girls had begin arriving at this point, so Zuca bags were rolling everywhere and I started to feel the roving terror of the toes when little kids in bladed feet are about.

After ten minutes of hand-wringing, I put on skates. Dad tried to interfere, but I felt that after all the sewing and driving and check-writing, I wanted to put on the skates. I went to the lineup area with Stitch, and a gaggle of little girls and a two boys were waiting as well. It was sheer madness. I immediately dubbed it Chaos Alley. Coaches and moms and ice monitors with clipboards were all vying for a spot where the kid was accessible. Coach arrived and dismissed me, so, with just an empty set of blade guards in hand, I went to sit and watch.

It felt so odd.

The kids took the ice for warmups; little ones doing little routines in cute outfits. They're all cute now. Dad and I took pictures, being dutiful parents. After awhile, they were ushered off by the announcer, and one by one they did their routines. Lots of Disney tunes, lots of sweeping music for swizzles, lots of lyrics about dreams. Very few falls, lots of shaky spirals. But a great bunch.

Finally, Stitch took the ice. For a moment I thought, "Oh, god, please let him do the routine Coach taught him and not some crazy thing he's had in his mind." The music started, and he took off. Swizzle, hop, spin (and the audience applauded his spin!) one foot glide, backwards wiggle, backward swizzle, stop, pose... pose... pose. He ran a hair too fast, but all was forgiven when he did a sharp heel on the final note anyway. Then he bowed. The audience loved it.

I was amazed. That's MY kid!

A few minutes later he appeared at the bottom of the bleachers and waved at us. I ran down and scooped him up. "You were amazing!"

"Yeah, I know!" Let it never be said he lacks confidence.

We left to go change into the compulsory outfit, and I noticed the happy smiles of the audience members as we passed by. They smiled at him! After forever and a day, we emerged from the ladies room in the other outfit, and Coach found us. "Did you see?" she asked.

"See what?"

"Results are up. Go see."

So we went to see. Stitch saw his name next to "First Place." He did his comic "jaw drop" and then got bouncy. "What do I win? Is it a medal?"

Coach led us over to the awards table, where Stitch collected his first trophy. It's very nice! But Stitch had wanted a medal. I rolled my eyes and told him to please take the trophy and remember that there was a strict "no whining" policy in effect for the next few hours.

We ran up the bleachers to show Dad, who was suffering through the Beta Freeskate alone. "That was fast," he said, shocked at the beautiful trophy. "I never got anything that nice."

Stitch was mighty pleased with himself. "I want to do it again," he said.

"And you will," I replied. "You still have Compulsories."

He groaned. He really hated the idea of compulsories, but I just think it's because he didn't have a lot of time to prepare.

For some reason, the high freestyle skaters got sandwiched between the little ones. So, while we were waiting to do more forward Swizzles, we got to watch double jumps and blade grabbing skatenastics. Stitch and Dad went to find "breakfast," and returned with popcorn. Whatever.

Gordon's mom didn't speak to me again today, but I'll chalk that up to competition craziness. Gordon did well, but I didn't see how he placed. Honestly, I didn't really care at the time.

So, finally, the skaters in his event cluster were called to the lineup area. I had him in skates already, and we trucked back down to Chaos Alley where moms and coaches were giving last minute instructions to wide-eyed kids. Coach arrived and asked Stitch what he was supposed to do. He listed off three strokes, two foot glide, one foot glide, three swizzles...

"No," said Coach. Stitch had the numbers wrong. Crap.

She dismissed me and then went to haggle with the ice monitor. Something was amiss, but I figured he already had a first place so whatever he got this time was fine. I went back up to our lonely perch. The kids took the ice and Stitch did a wobbly routine. He wasn't as sure of himself this time. Coach was way out on the ice and giving explicit instructions, like this was a lesson and not a review.

Warmups got called, and everybody left. Stitch was supposed to be the second skater out, but some other girl went out before him. That must be what the haggling was about. Now Stitch had one more precious minute to review. I see. (Again, didn't really care.)

That girl finished up, and there was Stitch. He took his place, and began easily enough. He watched the center line (can't cross, half ice only) and started backward swizzles. And fell. There was that shared moment in the audience when anyone fell, that half gasp and pause. Stitch got up and continued swizzling backwards. It never happened. He bowed, the audience applauded, and suddenly we were done. Three months of preparation and worry, and then in two hours it was done.

I went to collect Stitch, but got stopped on the bleachers. Another mom, the mom of the cute thing in blue sparkles who rocked the pre-alpha spiral competition. "Is he your son?"


"He's very good, when did he start?"

"March, so not too long ago. He's really taken off with it."

"What level is he?"

Oh god, here we go. "Well, he's competing at Pre-Alpha but he just passed Alpha yesterday. So I guess that makes him Beta now."

"And he's how old?"

"Seven." Good lord woman, what is your point?

"Does he want to do pairs?"

Honestly, I was waiting for this today. I just didn't know when it would come. "Well, he's in charge of his skating, and right now he thinks girls are icky. (Truth!) That might change in a few years, but for right now, he's a singles skater."

"Oh," she was disappointed. "Well, thanks."

"Your little one is adorable, and very good. I loved her spiral."

"Okay," she was still disappointed. "Thanks."

Stitch appeared through the door. He half smiled. "I fell." Coach was right behind him.

"So?" I countered. "I don't care if you fall. I only care that you get back up."

Coach asked him why he fell. "He knows," she said.

"I did it too wide," he said quietly.

"Ah, that's okay. You got up and did great! I think you were fantastic."

Coach seemed more concerned than me. We then settled some business and went to get his Real Boy clothes. We just had to wait for results and then we could go home.

"So," I asked Stitch. "Want to do this again?"

"Y-E-S," he spelled out his enthusiasm.

Dad wandered from Chaos Alley. "Are results up?" I asked.

"I can't tell. It's a madhouse over there." He gave up too easily.

I forced my way in and peered between the sparkles. Another first place.

"See that?" I pointed it out to Stitch. "You won again!"

"I did? Really?" I think he was a bit stunned because he fell.

"Let's go see what you got!" we started trucking to the awards table.

"I hope it's a medal," Stitch bounced.

It was another trophy, this time a Trophy trophy. It looks like a kid's idea of a trophy and Stitch was so happy. He grabbed it and gawked. "My first real trophy!"

"Keep skating like this and you'll have more," I reminded him.

I went to find Dad so he could pony up the engraving fee. Stitch never let it go after the engraver got done with it. He bounced and clutched and refused to let us see it. "Two trophies," he beamed.

"We'll need a shelf," I mused.

"Shelves," the engraver winked at me.

Yikes. So, our first competition and what did I learn? There were few boys. Very few boys, and Stitch was the only boy not skating in what I would consider practice wear. All the other boys had on regular athletic pants and shirts. Stitch had two costumes. The competition amongst the girls seems fierce, but most boys compete against the book. They know it, I heard two of them talking about it in Chaos Alley.

Dad took off for work, and Stitch and I went to Chuck E Cheese. I had told him he was going regardless of how he placed, as he's worked so hard. He ate pizza and won 422 tickets. I keep saying that I need to take him to Vegas.

Of course we went to public skate. The trophies came with us. His rink friends greeted him like a returning hero, viewing his trophies and congratulating him. He was speeding around the rink and spinning, trying funny tricks for his friends. Nutso even congratulated him before launching into another round of random complaints. Precious diverted the conversation by talking about her teeth. "How many teeth has Stitch lost? I've lost FIVE."

Okay, sure. I'll have this conversation with you.

We left early. It's been a long day. I have leftovers for dinner, and I plan on making popcorn and snuggling with a good movie. Tomorrow or later on this week, Stitch and I can have our talk. I know he wants to compete again, but I need to see exactly (or as close as possible) what he wants out of this.

All in all, a great day.

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