Saturday morning, I get up a little late, linger in the shower too long, neglect to hustle Stitch, and before I know it we're on the wire of running late. But Dad had gotten up in the middle of the night and set up my new single cup coffee brewer, so thankfully there was hot and fresh coffee at the push of a button. (Love you, Dad!!) Did I mention it's my birthday? That's okay, I forgot, too. Stitch is slow and grumbly, but I remind him, "Hey, Jeremy Abbott is competing too. He's probably been at the rink for hours by now." Okay, might nto be true but you do what you have to.
We arrive at the rink, Gordon is naturally clonking in skates, the ice is open and Coach is nowhere. That's okay, now she won't know I was barely on time. Gordon's mom, whom I will call Ms. Valium, waves. "It's so early!"
"That's okay. Early is good."
"I don't know if it's good to get the boys up so early."
"Go to bed earlier." Night runs in both directions, sweetcakes.
Coach arrives, tells the boys to get on the ice and goes to the office to get her skates on. Ms. Valium is left standing at the closed office door with puppy eyes. "I don't know, do we...."
"Come on, boys, let's go," I shepherd them into the rink.
Ms. Valium follows. "But Coach isn't..."
"Go stroke around, warm up," I point to the ice. "Go, go. No toe pushes."
"That's HARD," says Stitch.
"Good, do hard things."
Coach has skates on and steps in. "Thank you."
I nod and go outside. Ms. Valium is standing with a guy, whom she introduces as Mr. Valium. Mr. Valium begins lauding Gordon's progress. "Boy, he's really getting smooth. Hard to believe it's come this far! Remember when they did that Funny March Routine? And they slid down on their knees? Boy, I loved Funny March. It's hard to slide down on your knees. They should do Funny March again. Was your daughter in with the tots?" he asks.
I've been tuning him out. "I'm sorry, what?"
"The tots? She was in with them?"
"No, that's my son," I point. "I don't have a daughter."
"Oh, I thought you had a girl."
Ms. Valium chimes in. "No, her son is the one who had the hat at the last competition. Remember?"
"The one who skated a level under Gordon?"
"Yes. At Pre-Alpha."
"Well, that's great. Boy, Gordon is a lot smoother than," and he pauses, glancing at me, suddenly aware of just who that mystery kid is. "Before. Coach says Gordon is really smooth, he's got a lot of polish."
"I'm going to get some coffee," I excuse myself to the vending machine.
Wouldn't you know Ms. Valium follows me. She navigates the coffee vending with tenuous hands, obviously new to the concept of "caffiene where you can find it."
We head back and now Mr. Valium and some other dude are talking about ISI versus USFSA. Shit. Mr Valium is dropping the "O" word. "So, USFSA is how you get to the Olympics then? Honey, is Gordon USFSA?"
"Oh, I don't know..." her eyes kind of glaze.
"If you're competing tomorrow, then yes, he is," I speak up. "USFSA is the way to go Olympic, if that's what you're going for. ISI is considered the more fun skating league, but the most challenging tests in figure skating are ISI, not USFSA. Freestyle nine and ten, I believe."
"I suppose we'll have to wait a few years before Gordon gets to that," Mr Valium looks out at the small ice.
"How do you know all this?" Ms. Valium asks. "Do you skate?"
"No, I have internet." And a desire to know about things I'm involved in.
Coach comes out. "Do you have music? We need music."
I get the CD and go into the rink while Coach fetches the CD player. There's a higher level freestyle group coming in, big girls and boys. Gordon is getting that terrified look in his eyes. I help Coach with the CD Player, thankful for the chance to get away from the Valiums, and she runs them through their paces.
Gordon tries his routine, but now the high level freestyle group is tearing around the rink at full speed. Set a stuffed fluffy bunny on a drag strip, and you have Gordon on freestyle ice. I laughed, I couldn't help myself. Stitch tries his routine, and while he's more confident at dodging the whirlwind of Chloe Noels, it's hard to line up those damn three turns. That's okay, I get the distinct feeling we were brought here as a Security Blanket for Gordon anyway.
The lesson ended, Coach tosses out the boys and grabs her next kid. There's just no time for pleasantries today. The Valiums linger rinkside, waiting for what I don't know, while I take the boys out to the warm lobby. "So, you kids excited about tomorrow?"
"No!" they say.
"What? Why not?"
"Because I'm going to lose," says Stitch.
"I don't want third place," whines Gordon.
"What is going on here? Do you two really believe you're going to lose? How can you lose? Did you lose last time?"
"Last time I got second place," Gordon said.
"Last time I got two firsts."
"Coach says that this time we're gonna get a medal and a prize!" Gordon says to Stitch.
"Look, " I bring them back. "No one is going to lose. You're both going to do fine. Stop worrying, both of you."
The Valiums come back out looking deflated, and Ms. Valium starts talking about some practice ice at Home Rink tomorrow. "But they won't get to skate on the Big Rink at the Rink Across town," she laments. "And Coach can't be here with them. They should..."
"It's all ice. It's all the same size. I'm not worried." Besides. Gordon can't be on practice ice alone anyway. He's six. (HAHAHAhAHAHA!!) We head outside, it's bitter cold, and a dry snow is falling. Stitch stops at the car window, staring intently. I open the passenger door, toss in the skate bag and slam it shut. "Oh!" says Stitch.
"What? You okay?"
"You blew away the snowflakes."
I realize that this is that special kind of snow where every tendril and point of a snowflake can be seen. We paused for a moment, and look at snowflakes. When our fingers were too cold to move well, we came home for a proper breakfast. I made more coffee. I love buttons. Stitch gave me his present, a clay heart with the words, "Love is the key to this world" written in it.
It is what it will be, bitches.