Friday, September 24, 2010

OMG

Has anyone else noticed that Jonathan Harris is like Johnny Weir in a timewarp?

Of Sevens and Tops

K is currently hating skating class. I'm wondering if this has anything to do with the brief Reign of Terror by Coach L, and whether his attitude towards lessons will improve with the new, younger, more active Coach. To be honest, I'm not sure.

He's also not currently thrilled with the Privates. Coach Y is a good coach. She challenges him with things he clearly can't do yet, like the Waltz Jump. The thing to remember is that K is seven, and I've learned a few things while reading about seven year olds. They are low on the self-confidence scale, yet they have high expectations of themselves, and they are ashamed of failure. This is not a winning combination for learning a very difficult sport like Ice Skating.

I can only think there are three things going through K's mind as he sees another student perform a flawless Waltz Jump: "I can't do that, I should be able to do that, I'm going to look so stupid when I fall on my butt because everyone else can do that and everyone will laugh at me."

Add these three statements together in a mind that doesn't understand "practice," "patience," or "instruction," and you get a System Overload leading to Shutdown.

We have hit Shutdown on occasion. K's System Shutdown has occurred when he's whining, dragging his feet, complaining about everything, or generally being a complete pain in the ass.

When System Shutdown occurs at the rink, (which is often, because this is a frustrating sport) I feel the glaring spotlight of being THAT MOM. That mom who forces her kid to keep practicing, that mom who cajoles and bribes, that mom who is clearly harboring visions of greatness on a kid who doesn't want to cooperate.

Last night I was sewing beads onto K's competition vest. I told him I'd probably be done with it this weekend. He got a little smile, and began twirling on the floor. When I asked him what kind of buttons he wants on his blue lame skating shirt I'm about to sew, he replied "the fancy ones." Out on the ice alone, he does his own little performances for his imaginary audiences, only occasionally looking to me for applause. (Of course I clap.)

It's incredibly frustrating when there are kids K's age who "have their doubles." It does make me feel inferior when I run into the mother of some little mite of a girl, who is jumping and twirling all over the furniture in the lobby while her mother counts skate coupons and plans out the litany of private lessons in a giant three ring binder as though she were planning the invasion of France. (What's even more fun about watching this family is Mom asking Dad's opinions, but Dad has this amazing expression because he knows he isn't really being asked, but rather merely informed.)

Then I see the kid in K's class who skates like a broken Transformer toy, permanently bent at the waist but lacking knee joints, and I think K's not doing so bad.

It's bewildering when I hear other Coaches praise K's potential, because then I think he should be more advanced. Perhaps I should pony up for more lessons, more ice time, more gear. You get the idea. Yet I know if I did that, K would hit System Overload every time, and eventually it would be permanent. More than that, I can't afford it.

It's completely maddening when I see older girls progressing seemingly at light speed, because they are self-motivated and don't need someone following them around with bribes of candy and pizza. Why can't K be like that? Why can't he shake off this fear of embarassment and try harder things?

I have this little top that K won at Chuck E.Cheese. It's supposed to light up when it spins, but it only lights up when it's spinning at precisely the right speed, at precisely the right angle. Otherwise it's just an ordinary top that you're spinning in the dark waiting for something to happen. I think a Seven Year Old Boy learning to Ice Skate is a lot like that. When conditions are precisely right, the light goes on and it looks fun and amazing. Otherwise, I'm just some crazy mom in the dark waiting for something to happen.

Here's what I keep trying to tell myself; If K is as talented as he seems to be, and as others think him to be, then that talent will still be there when he's ready to reach up and claim it. In the meantime, I have to be here to suffer through the Shutdowns and Overloads and keep him skating at a pace he's comfortable with. Through it all, he does enjoy it and he does have fun on the ice. He once told me that I will never be a famous ice skater like he will be, because I can't do a T-Stop like he can. His ambition is quiet, but there.

I also have to learn to pay no mind to what other parents and their kids, and what they're doing. Their activities and progress are irrelevant to us and where we're at in this sport. Neither are their opinions. If they could see what I see, which is the little smile of excitement and the twirls at the prospect of a fancy skating costume, they'd know I was making the right decision.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Seven

K is seven. Very seven. I was reading on the behavioral development of seven year olds to better arm myself when dealing with him and his inexplicable moods.

A coworker came in, and I expressed my frustration with the situation. You'd think I'd know better than to discuss parenting dilemmas with someone who isn't a parent and never intends to become one. But I forgot. Here's how it went:

"Just smack him."
"Excuse me?"
"Just smack him. Swat him."
"No. Fuck no. What the fuck is wrong with you?"
"I'm not saying give him a roundhouse punch. Just smack him on the butt."
"No. Physical violence in response to mood swings is completely inappropriate. If I hit him, he'd go cry in his closet for three days."
"Well. Maybe he needs to toughen up."
"Bullshit. This kid took a full on dive into the hockey boards, and kept skating with a walnut on his head. You're going to tell me my kid isn't tough? Bullshit."
**moment of silence**
"I'm just saying, my mom hit me on the butt when I was doing something I wasn't supposed to, and I turned out okay."
"This isn't about misbehavior. It's about normal patterns of cognitive and social development. Hitting a kid for not understanding himself at seven is stupid. I can't think of a better way to fuck them up. Any other ideas?"

Of course he didn't have any.

Ah, I love parenting advice from nonparents. But what I truly loved about this conversation is that now the pro-spanking faction can't say my kid isn't tough. Score one for ice skating.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Preparing for Competition, Part 4

The costume is done with the exception of embellishment, buttons and snaps. It's hanging in my dining room like a trophy buck, a symbol of my ability and accomplishment. I can't skate worth a damn, but man can I sew. I'll do a sewing post at some point, after I recover from my collar-induced PTSD. I've been doing some light bead embroidery on the edges. It's an embellishment I had been planning to do in glitter, but this method will increase it's resale value. More than that, it's giving me something to do so I don't freak out.

Xan, a skating coach with a handy blog, has some very wise words. "The only competitions you should spend serious money and emotional commitment on are the Qualifying competitions: Regionals, Sectionals, Nationals." Sage advice, and my Inner Guru knows that she is absolutely right. This little thing we're doing in November is precisely that; a Little Thing in November. Our goal is not to win, not even to place. Our goal is to just do it and see if it's something he wants to continue with.

However, my Outer Parent is verging on full freakout mode. My BAYYBEE is going to skate in a COMPUHTISHUN!! HOLY CRAP! We need MUZIKS! We need SPARKLEZ! OMG we need to PRACTUS!!

I've been trying to pin down the source of my anxiety surrounding this event, one bead at a time. Just what is it about this event that is causing me to act this way?

When K was in Kindergarten, there was a parent/teacher conference where I was hanging on the door, eavesdropping on a conversation where some other parents were being told that their kid was struggling in reading. K was reading like a champ, fully a grade level above the other kids. Was I proud? You bet! But the conversation where I got told that was private. And when I got outside, I couldn't say a word. You can't march out of a P/T Conference boasting, "Wow, my kid sure is reading better than yours is!" without looking like a total bitch.

Figure Skating is different. It's very, very public. Everyone sees it, and in a close community like the one at our Elementary School, everyone hears about it. I learned today from the PTA President that K and her daughter are in the same skating class. I've never seen this woman on Saturdays, but it somehow got reported back to her. She sent me an email this morning, "See you at the rink!" What, really? When? I need to know so I can have a full tank of bourbon ready. And no, I can't volunteer.

As if the Skating Class wasn't enough exposure, I had the gall to get a PRIVATE COACH. Now when I meet up with the other moms, I get asked, "Is he still taking Privates?" Well, yes. "Oh," they raise a brow. At that point I had made a statement about K's ability; the group lessons aren't enough. They might be enough for your kid, but not mine. There's a reason I don't talk much about the Privates to the other moms, because at this level they aren't acceptable yet.

Well, now I've taken the ultimate step. He's Competing. Now I'm blatantly stating, "You think your kid can skate better than mine? Meet me on November 5th and let's find out. Let's dress them up in cute costumes, play some jazzy music and have a one minute showdown. Your kid versus mine, bitch." This is one instance, perhaps the only instance, where I can point to a trophy-laden kid and my enthronement on the dias of bitchdom must be tolerated. They may not enjoy it, they might talk about me behind my back, they might even hate me, but the proof is in the skating, isn't it? My kid is better than yours. Eat it!

Don't be mistaken, this isn't how I really think. Honestly, I couldn't give less of a rat's ass what the other moms think. I'm simply theorizing about the precipice down which I could fall. When any mom puts her kid up for display in a public forum, be it a play, spelling bee, baseball game, whatever, it's not just the kids at stake. It's also the parents. They are determined to prove that their kid is better, their kid is different, their kid is unlike your stupid commoner kid who can barely make it over her own toepicks. When kids publicly succeed, some parents validate themselves in some weird way. And when those parents take loud and obvious pride like that, their kids aren't far behind, are they? (I can't ever forget Precious running up to K on the first day of Group Lessons, "Hey! I'm in Alpha ooooonnneee! Which level are yewww in?" K replied that he too, was in Alpha 1. Precious then ran off without a word. K looked at me. "Why did she do that?" I shrugged and told him not to worry about it.)

K is afraid of being laughed at (which won't happen), but I'm afraid of putting him up for that kind of scrutiny from other witchy parents (and kids) who would take away from any measure of success he might enjoy. "Oh, second place? We got first!" My response to this anxiety is to make everything on my end as perfect as possible. His Costume fits like a dream, his music is one minute on the dot, and we run through the routine twice per Public Ice Session. (I just run him through the motions, it's Coach Y's job to perfect his technique.)

Does a Pre-Alpha competitor really need gold beaded embroidering on his vest? No, of course not. But hey, even if his stroking is a bit off, damn that embroidery looks good. Those other moms can see whatever they want to see, I only see a little boy who strikes poses on the ice and wanted to wear his costume to the restaurant.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Skating Parents I have Witnessed

There's a lot of fun things that go on during a Beginning Skating Class. I wouldn't call it a circus, but it's certainly more fun than Senior Hour at Perkins.

K shared a Pre-Alpha class with a cute little Asian girl. She, her little sister and her parents would come every Saturday, and like it or not that poor girl was forced to skate. She would drag herself around the ice during warmups, shuffling her feet and holding our her arms whenever she looked to mom for rescue. Mom had no intention of rescuing this kid. Mom, for her part, was the endless cheerleader. She would follow along the boards as her daughter passed by, flapping her arms and shouting encouragement. When the little girl would hang on the boards and cry, mom would make pushing motions at her, "go skate!"

The coaches would inevitably take over and give the lesson, as mom was clearly not going to take her daughter off the ice. And this poor girl would shuffle and skate, doing it only because mom and dad would not shut up. Little sister, who did not skate, took more than one header down the cement stairs from being ignored.

Me, I was just drinking my coffee.

At one point we saw them at Public Skate, giving us a repeat performance without the benefit of a class or coaches. Mom was at the door, pushing the immovable object onto the ice as she wailed and cried. Dad was holding Little Sister (who looked like she wanted to skate) and coaxing as hard as mom was. I was skating that night, and so I brought her out with me. Mom and Dad were very thankful, but it was clear that this kid didn't want to skate at all.

K ignored the entire proceeding, rolling his eyes whenever he did glance over, as I encouraged the girl to dip and skate.

I haven't seen them lately, and I have to say that I kind of miss the weekly waterworks and arm flapping up and down the stands. Nothing like a wailing kid and birdmom to make the Saturday mornings fun and colorful. The younger sibling diving down the stairs was just a bonus prize to the entire affair.

Ice Skating Insitute

Just to clarify what's going on here, K belongs to the Ice Skating Institute. This is the organization that is all about fun and games, no pressure. The classes are easy to understand, the competitions only require a check to participate, and everybody gets a prize at the end of the day. There's nothing here that will get you into the Olympics. The path to the Olympics begins at USFSA, and K has stated that he doesn't want to be in the Olympics. This is fine with me. (Really!)

The various levels, Pre-Alpha, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta are all Pre-Freestyle. This is Skating Code for "Not Jumping Yet." This is where the kids learn the basics of staying up, falling down, getting back up, moving around, turning, going backwards, and eventually getting fancier and fancier to crossovers, turning on one skate really fast, and something called a Mohawk turn that sounds really intimidating. It's only in Delta that the kids learn a true jump, the Bunny Hop. Very simple, no rotation, not a lot of chance for damage here.

After you get through Delta, our rink has a "Pre-Freestyle" level, and then you start all over again with "Freestyle 1." I don't know anything about Freestyle beyond the fact that those kids fall a lot and are seriously determined.

I have accepted that our journey through the pre-freestyle levels is going to be long and arduous. Even with the recent skip, at twelve weeks per level and assuming we repeat Beta (from what I've heard, everyone repeats Beta) we have about a year and a half before we enter Freestyle. I'm kind of happy about this. At one point I was hoping for a kid who would zoom through these levels and be some kind of phenom, but as we progress I see that: he's seven, he's a boy, he likes to do things his way, and it will take a long time to learn the skills, much less why these skills are relevant and necessary. It's not just the skating, these are more life lessons I want him to have. K's a strong skater, but it's going to take some serious coaching to get that strong skating going in the right direction. (Good luck with that, Coach Y!)

In the meantime, I will be in the stands, shunned by the other Skating Moms whose kids are landing doubles and wearing Vera Wang. That's fine by me. Me and my Bourbon flask will be just fine, thanks!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

What Skating Parents look like during lessons



I'm just as guilty as the rest of them.

Welcome to Alpha 2

Saturday's class started bad. Hockey season is upon us, and the teams are making the ice rough. It's full of gouges and ruts, and kids were down all over the place.



One girl went down hard on her shoulder, and I think there was a collective gasp from the Parental Peanut Gallery as we all felt sure there had been some actual damage done this time. She was fine. A trouper like the rest of them, she kept skating. The Pre-Alphas were spooked as hell, and moving like deer through a rifle range. K did fine. After three weeks of skating on this nonsense ice, I think he's learning to stay off his toepicks to avoid tripping.

The warm-ups went on forever. At 11:35, we started watching the clock. They should be breaking up now. Nope, they went on doing relays with the hockey lines, with the Pre-Alphas scared to death and looking at the coaches as though they'd been asked to play DodgePuck.

Finally, the kids began swirling around their coaches. We, S, Nutso and myself, watched Coach L. We were timing her as she took roll. There are maybe twelve or fifteen kids in this class, but it consistently takes her ten minutes to take roll. That's one minute per kid. WTF. Finally L finished roll. She then had the kids do swizzles again. Lots and lots of swizzles. The clock is ticking. She then had the kids go backwards. More backwards. Tick tock tick tock. With fifteen minutes to go, she lined the kids up on a hockey circle and began talking. And talking. Talking. Appearing to be yelling. Gesturing and yelling. She then had the kids practice crossing feet while standing. More talking. The kids held up their arms. More talking. More yelling. She was pointing and grabbing kids, forcing them into position. Then, without doing a single move, she had them turn around and repeat the process. Arms in position, cross feet. Gab gab gab.

WHY AREN'T THESE KIDS MOVING? Every other kid on this ice was in motion, but not these kids. This was the Ice Statue Class. Ten minutes left of the class, she finally got the kids skating. One at a time, the kids demonstrated their ability to cross feet and move forward. All the other kids remained stationary, freezing to death and fidgety.

I. Was. Furious. We all were. I was seriously debating yanking K out of the Saturday class and putting him in the Wednesday evening, and pointedly telling "Coach" L why. S and Nutso were threatening violence. (I'm the easy going parent, really.)

Finally, with eight minutes left in the class, K moved and did a solid crossover. He did two. Then, with my heart soaring in blessed relief, Coach L moved K to the Alpha 2 group. Ordinarily, with any other Coach, I would have allowed him to stay in Alpha 1 just to get him to understand the point of Crossovers. (Right now he thinks they are largely a move created by adults to annoy kids.) But the prospect of not dealing with L for seven more weeks was too wonderful. Yes, please move him to Alpha 2!!

S and Nutso were pretending to be angry with me as I did my Happy Dance in the bleachers. Nutso then asked me if we would be here on Sunday, and I said yes. I know for a fact she will be there today, shouting at Precious to learn crossovers so
Precious can move up, too.

I was so happy. K is kind of happy. He likes to skate, but he wants to be left alone on the ice to play. He rolls his eyes at any kind of lesson these days, so the sudden graduation was a bit lost on him.

That evening the public ice was almost empty. Dad, me and K played "London Bridge." It's a game where Dad and I hold hands, and K skates under our arms. K spun, swirled, did jazz hands, and even did a two-foot sit spin. He did his one foot glides and tried to imitate the Rink Guard who was doing those one foot swooshes. He snowplowed and laughed, teased the other Rink Gaurds, and at the end of the night, everyone left the ice. K stayed on, tossed off his jacket and flew around the rink full speed about six times before finishing with a spin and flourish at center ice. It was fun to watch.

Today I am back to reality, planning menus and going to the fabric store after completely botching his competition shirt. All in all, good times.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Double Runner Skates are Stupid

Back in March, when I was in the market for Boy's Figure Skates, I made the mistake of going to Dick's Sporting Goods. There, I was presented with a clueless staff and a selection of Hockey Skates for Big Boys, White Figure Skates for Girls of All Ages, and Double Runner Skates for Little Boys.

The message here is loud and clear; BOYS DON'T FIGURE SKATE. While Dick's website doesn't have the same sexist slant as their Brick and Mortar stores, I still felt a bit shunned and put out at my inability to run out and grab some black skates.

Double Runner skates are NOT skates. At all. Period. You cannot ice skate in double runner skates. What starts out as being a well-meaning attempt at ensuring kids don't fall over their own asses repeatedly becomes a crippling exercise in parental nonsense.

Here's why Double Runner skates don't work: Double Runner blades are not sharp. They are dull like your Butter Knife Blade. Figure Skate blades are sharp. A single blade has two edges that are sharp, a little duller than your paring knife but not by much. Double Runner Blades are flat. Those skates can sit on a table, and that's all they should do. Traditional Figure skate Blades have a rocker, they bow outwards in the middle slightly. You won't notice until you hold them together. Here's a video:



Yeah, Double Runners have none of these things. They are soft shoed, flat bladed, dulled pieces of nonsense meant to turn boys off of figure skating entirely. They don't glide, they don't swizzle, they don't do anything. There was one weekend where we saw two boys in Double Blade skates, and they were expending so much energy simply pushing themselves along that they never had the chance to feel the wind in their hair or have their cheeks get cold. Even K asked me, "What is wrong with their skates? They aren't working right."

The way I feel about Double Runner Skates is the same way I feel about those "bikes" with handles for Parents attached. Fucking dumb! Kids have to be allowed to fall, to get hurt, and yes, to bruise and bleed. This shit happens, and it happens to everyone. As I tell K at every single skating session, I don't care how many times you fall down, I care about how many times you GET BACK UP. A kid who never falls will never learn how to pick themselves back up and keep going.

Yes, it's hard to watch your BAYBEEEEEE fall down and cry, and bruise, and even bleed. It's really hard. I haven't posted about the Goose Egg Incident because I don't want DCFS knocking at my door. Deep down, I believe that Parenting is shaping a whiny kid to be a responsible, kind, motivated, and tough individual. Whiny kids don't become that if they're skating in Double Runners.

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.

Monday, September 6, 2010

My First Competition Packet

This is fun.

"WARNING OF RISK: Ice Skating is intended to challenge and engage the physical, mental and emotional resources of the participant. Despite careful and proper preparation, instruction medical advice, conditioning and equipment, there is still a risk of serious injury, including but not limited to head injury, neck or back injury, wrist and ankle fractures, and other orthopedic injuries to limbs and joints. All hazards and danger cannot be foreseen. The very nature of ice skating is risky, including but not limited to slip and falls (HA!) colliding with other payers of varying degrees of skill (including being struck from behind), tripping on irregular ice surfaces, cuts from skate blades, inadequate or defective equipment, ill-fitting skates, failure in supervision or instruction, horseplay, carelessness, poor technique, poor conditioning, rule violations, striking a stationary object, premises defects outside the rink, and all other risks inherent to the sport of ice skating. In this regard, it must be recognized that it is impossible for the District to guarantee absolute safety."

funny gifs - ZOMFG! I Can't Feel My Face
see more SeƱor Gif

Preparing for Competition, Part 3 (I think)

K already had a song in mind, but it's 2:35 minutes long. The rules state that the kiddos only get one minute total to show their stuff. So, I had to find a way to remove one minute and thirty five seconds from his choice. As usual, I went to the Internets.

I found a free music editor, Audacity. After some playing around with it, I was successful in clipping, cutting and adding some neat-o sound effects, which included a nice fade-out at the end. I got a nice piece of music that sounds good, and like it all belongs together. It took me about twenty minutes and with a minimum of hair pulling and tooth gnashing. The only issue with Audacity is that it cannot save your file as an MP3. That would be too easy, wouldn't it? Fortunately I already had a file converter from my old Blackberry days, so it was easy enough to turn that puppy from a WAV to an MP3 and burn it to a CD.

All this got me to thinking. I have an unhealthy fascination with Tonya Harding. I don't know why. Maybe it's the fact that at some point in my distant past I would have shot someone for hair like hers, or I saw a kindred spirit in the Big Thighs club. Maybe some part of me likes the Bad Girl, or wonders just how much she really knew about the whole "whack whack nod nod" thing. At any rate, it takes a woman with a hella lotta guts to post her wedding video on her own website.

Tonya liked the movie soundtracks. She skated to "Robin Hood" and "Batman," and saved all her big jumps for the rushing high points in the music. It was pretty formulaic, but the crowds seemed to eat it up. There was one program, though, which always leaves me scratching my head, and is everything I hate about music in figure skating routines.



She starts out with "Batman," by Danny Elfman. It's dark. It's big. It's got heavy climactic moments, dramatic and deep. Then she stops, and switches to a tinny piano clinking out "Send in the Clowns." What the fuck. We were all jumping and swooshing and heroic, and now we're sad clowns. Not only are we Sad Clowns, we're then left whirling to the off-key tones of the Big Top Theme as in some discordant Circus from Hell. But wait. We're not done! The Sad Clowns make way for Sexy Time! The crowds fucking cheer her along in the mess, now in the third act which is Wild Thing! Whoever this Barbara Flowers person is, she is probably cutting music with her toes because her hands and arms are in a fucking straightjacket. Tonya is now waggling her ass in a costume which now makes perfect sense. The blue lame necktie skirt on the bottom says "whore," but the princess cut top says "nice girl." Then, the music just STOPS. It ends. There is no fade out, nothing to indicate, "this is winding down." It just fucking stops, even though my mind is saying, "Wait, but there's more to this song. Shouldn't it keep going?"

This routine has three completely different pieces of music, and they simply don't work together. They begin in odd places, they don't segue into each other, there is nothing at all that they have in common. Who chose this? Who listened to this and thought, "Oh wow. This is great!" This is akin to taking all the music on my walkman from 1993 and cramming it together. All those songs are great on their own, but together they're like Waldorf Salad.

I hate Waldorf Salad.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Falling

Aww, my sweet little boy. Ever since he was little, I've been there to wipe every tear and kiss every boo-boo. I've watched him like a hawk as he climbed the heights of the playground equipment, my heart thudding in my chest lest he should fall. I'm there at his bedside with a cool cloth and Tylenol to soothe every fever. I wake up at the slightest cough, at the ready with medicine and a sweet caress. It pains me to see him hurt, my every instinct crying out to ensure that no harm comes his way and that he never bruises, bleeds or so much as weathers a rainy day without copious amounts of ice cream to make the sun come out again.

And then we we started skating.




Every weekend I send out my precious living porcelain figurine out to traverse a sheet of ice on two 1/4" blades of steel. Not only is he expected to stay upright, he's expected to swizzle, turn, jump, go backwards, and spin. And the weekend is not complete unless there are tears and bruises. Every time he falls, I will swoop in, drag him off the ice as he performs his Boneless routine, and comfort him with kisses and ice cream.

This weekend was K's first outing on Practice Ice alone. I was in the stands, trying to read and just ignore him as he "practiced." He fell. He sat there and wailed. There was no one to help him. I stood up and motioned for him to "GET UP!" My Inner Rabid Parent was clamoring to leap over those glass partitions and swoop down from on high to save my delicate baby as he sat and cried amidst the whirl of blades and careless girls. For the first time in my parenting career, I was utterly helpless to save my child, and it felt terrible. Coach Y was out there, and she spotted him. She called to him, "are you hurt?" He shook his head. Dramatics, then. She then told him to get up, and get to the hockey box. He got up, and went to her.

After she got done with her student, she then began with K. It was as though the fall never happened. K forgot about it. His lesson went well, but I got distracted by the girl in the harness on the other end. I looked over in time to see K perform his first three backwards crossovers. (Hooray!) Coach Y gave me some papers on the November Competition (more on that later), and then told K he should practice more. So I sent him back out with a short list of things to do before we left.

Three Bunny Hops in, he fell again. And he sat there. And wailed. Not only was I not there, Coach Y was not there, either. I stood in the door and held up my foot, which was skateless. "I can't help you," was the message. "GET UP!" I shouted. He got up, and skated over to the door, where I swooped him up with motherly hugs and promises of ice cream.

This is awful. How many times am I expected to watch MY BAYBEEEE fall and hurt himself? How many times can he pick himself up? I see the bigger kids take some really hard falls, and they dust themselves off like this is just a normal part of their day. Part of me really wants a kid that can take some serious lumps without flinching, but the other part of me is screaming, "NOOOOOO!!!!" The other thing is, anyone claiming that Figure Skating is for effeminate boys obviously hasn't seen the black and blue aftermath of a really good skating session.