Stitch was dancing again at Public Skate today. Just out there, rocking in his own little world. Hopping, skipping, crossovering, having fun. I like watching, and apparently he looks for my thumbs-up approval.
Coach was there, with her Sunday students, and it's hard not to notice him. She came over to us at resurface, and the look on her face was ambivalent. "He's wild," she says. "The more he skates on his own, the more out of control he gets. I try to put him in position, but he doesn't like that."
"It's got to be his idea," I say. "It's the same with schoolwork and anything else. If he doesn't want to do it, good luck." I told her about my plan with recognition pins, and even she said, "if he'll buy it."
You can't say I don't try. So I watched some more dancing, and thought. How can I get him to understand that Figure Skating isn't going out there and just going nuts?
One: Keep him Competing. And before I get any howls of indignation from overly permissive parents out there, let me explain: Stitch loves an audience. He demands an audience. I have a distinct feeling that despite all the agony leading up to next Sunday, Stitch will gladly perform for his captive audience, and want another. Further, the work involved just reinforces that there is work that goes with this. Period. End of Story. Until there is a division of the sport for Improvisational Dance Skating, Stitch is out of luck.
Two: Let him in on a Secret, and remove my involvement. Stitch was dragging his old backpack on wheels down the stairs. "This is why I need a Zuca!" he says.
"Because there's two wheels. That would make it easier to go down the stairs!"
I see my window. "You want a Zuca, huh?"
"Well, let me tell you something. I was planning on buying you a Zuca once you hit Freestyle. That was going to be a surprise."
He gets wide-eyed excited. "When is that?"
"You'd have to get through Gamma and Delta. So, maybe in the late fall."
"OH!" he whines.
"But listen. I'm willing to change my plan. I will be happy to get you a Zuca when you start skating correctly."
And now it was like fate. Coach comes out of the rink. I call her over. "I was just telling Stitch that my original Secret Plan was to get him a Zuca bag once he hit Freestyle," I explain.
She agrees that this is a fine idea.
"But I'm willing to get it sooner if he starts skating correctly, and for that I need you to tell me when that is."
"In that case," she says. "You could have it much sooner."
Stitch seems intrigued. "Really?"
"Yes," says Coach. "Follow instruction."
"So, Stitch, this is your ticket to your Zuca," I point to Coach. "Coach will tell me when to get it. But not before."
Stitch sets his lip. This is typically a good sign. Coach gives me some paperwork for March, and says he should change music. I agree. On the way home, I convince Stitch that a March competition is a good idea with some jazzier music and that Coach will let him add some of his own movements to the current routine. He says yes.
We came home, and I had Stitch look at the Zuca catalog to see which one he liked. I should have known.
This is the one called "Caution." It looks like a traffic cone.
I'll be spending my week doing subliminal messaging, and cutting some Stray Cats.