Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Stop Making Sense

I've been musing on Precious and some of the other kids at the rink. I know it's not acceptable to compare my kid to other kids, a lesson I've learned in school when Stitch's stories look as though they were penned by a raven on crack. But I can think, can't I?

Coach teaches another boy, who will be competing Sunday as well. I'll call him Gordon. She talked highly of this kid, stating that his mom was in a local esteemed Ballet company, and that he was at Gamma level in lessons but competing at Alpha level. (*shrug*) I was anxious to meet him.

When I did, of course his mom blew by me like I didn't exist, so whatevs. Then I caught a glimpse of Gordon's skating. Slow. Stumbly. Forward crossovers lack that smooth look.This kid can't be in Gamma. Mom was chatting and grinning at the stumbly look. Coach Y was looking frustrated, and as we left I saw her talking to Gordon's mom with a pained expression. Something was amiss.

Later on I learned from Rink Pal that Coach had a "sit down" with Gordon's mom about speed and practice.

In my experience, Public Ice is a fine way for PreStyle kids to practice. It's cheap, easy to supervise, and not very crowded at the right times. Even if it is populated, what better way to learn stops and sharp turns then by dodging little kids who fall a lot. But I'd never seen Gordon during public skate on weekends. Ever.

Precious is another story. She's becoming quite the viper, and dragging her siblings with her. When Stitch and I attended the Halloween Costume Skate on Sunday, she eyed us from afar before approaching. "Is that REAL blood on his shirt?" she asked me, indicating the red stains from the blood capsule on Stitch's shirt.

"No, it's fake," I replied.

The words, "Probably juice," hadn't even finished crossing her lips before she skated off, never to speak to me again. I know she's a Yankee child of a decidedly Yankee mother, so I can only fault her manners so far, but the attitude that reeks off this child has a stink. Nutso seems convinced that Precious will be bumped to Beta, but even if that does happen it will be a mistake. Sure, Precious can land one foot over the other, but her back is bent and her knees are rigid. Her line is not good. If she were Stitch, I would like him to stay in Alpha to get it right before moving on.

At Ice Show rehearsal, I talked with SkateDad and watched his boy. He's Stitch's age and in Pre-Freestyle. I was interested to see him skate. But as I watched I realized, this kid doesn't have the same confidence on the ice as Stitch. He didn't take off running across the ice as Stitch did, and his stroking included toepicks. His forward crossovers look just like Stitch's; a bit leany with a mild stagger on about the fifth or sixth one. I didn't ask.

I think parents are getting confused by this process. Ultimately, we want our kids to learn to skate well, not attach a label to their level. When a skate parent introduces themselves to me, their first statement is their name. Their second is their kid's name, immediately followed by their skating level. I then have to state my kid's skating level, and thus the totem pole becomes established.

But the names on the levels aren't important. What's important is the skills. No parent would dream of advancing their kids a grade level in school if they didn't have the chops, but here in the skating world, that's acceptable and cool. It's cool because skating is awesome and it's even more awesome to have a kid that can skate. The levels are an instant way for other parents to judge your kids skating and coolness factor in comparison to their own. But it just cripples the kids in the long run.

Let's compare to swimming; no sane swim instructor would pass a kid to the next level if the kid didn't have the chops. The kid would just wind up hurting themselves, and exposes them to a dangerous possibility of drowning. Same with skating.


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