This morning I let Stitch do his own practice ice. I gave him the list, a pencil to check off the elements, and the egg timer. I went to the stands and held my breath.
Stitch worked. He went down the list methodically, even though I've told him he can jump around. Backwards one foot glides, backwards stroking, more boring crossovers, and those dratted three turns. Other Coaches did their business, and Stitch strategically avoided them. I only had to tell him once to find a clearer spot to work, and beyond that he was on his own. I bought him his French Vanilla, setting it on the bench to cool while he did three turns. I told him to take a coffee break at 8:30, which he did, and then he was right back to work. While I was very pleased and proud, this unfortunately left me having to listen to two moms of some young girl skaters learning swizzles and one foot glides. The two girls were running rings around their preppy coach, wasting time and playing with each other.
"Look at her, she is just so loving this," one mom went off about her own daughter.
"Yes, they had such a good time at the competition," said the other mother.
"She just loves to spin, but she doesn't know how to stop! Hahahaha!"
Blah blah blah.
I tuned them out in time for Nice Mom to arrive. I greeted her and looked for her little girl, looking much stronger in her swizzling these days. "Looking good," I commented.
"Yes! You were right, she skated more to get ready for the competition and I saw a big difference!"
"Yup. They just need to be on the ice."
"Did your son compete?"
"Oh yeah, he had a blast."
"Did he..." she trailed off.
"Oh, first place. Good times."
The other moms shut up fast and bored holes into the side of my head.
"What about yours?" I ignored them. "Did she get a trophy?"
"That's great! Congratulations."
"She was skating against those two girls," Nice Mom pointed out to the wobbly brats and I tried not to bristle.
"Well, I'm sorry I missed her. I would have loved to have seen her." It's true, I like her little girl. She took a hard fall on a crossover, and Cool Coach didn't help her up, but explained why she fell. Little girl got up and tried again, no complaints. Yes, I like her.
Stitch started doing Spirals, lazy and awful. Oh well, our next stop is Coach and she'll put a stop to that.
Nice Mom and I keep talking, ignoring the self congratulating chatter next to us. "So I should just bring her to public skate?" Nice Mom asks.
"Yes, just let her play," I notice that the other gabbing has stopped and they are glaring, listening to me. "I tell Stitch to do some work, like ten swizzles, forward and back. Do ten one foot glides on each foot, and so on. But let her play. It's comfort you're looking for."
"I'm going to do that. She loves to skate."
"Then let her skate."
At five to nine, I hopped down to the boards. "Okay, Stitch. That's the end of the list. Good work!"
"No," he zips by me. "I wrote something else!" he zips by again. Sure enough, he wrote "GO REALLY FAST!" at the bottom.
"Okay, but they're going to kick you off! There's lessons coming in!"
Sure enough, Stitch got booted off the ice. We headed out to the lobby and there was Nutso, sitting at a bench. "Hi!" she greets me.
I wave back.
"How was the competition?"
"Uh, really great. We really enjoyed it. Definitely going to try to do it again next year."
"Did he win?"
OH YES, HE WON THE WHOLE DAMN THING! "He took first place in his event."
"That's so great!" her tone is paper thin. "We have to see pictures!"
Why am I so unnerved at this moment? Why does she want pictures? This isn't making sense. Her daughter despises Stitch. Whatever, I wander over with my phone (which has all my incriminating tweets on it so I'm frantically closing applications) and show her the few pictures I got on it that day.
"Oh, look," she grabs it and shows That Other One. "Look at Stitch and his Trophy!"
Okay, now it's me and That Other One who are uncomfortable. That Other One clearly doesn't give a whit about some other kid and his trophy. I don't blame her. I take my phone back and use the thin "gotta get my card punched" excuse to leave.
With that weirdness behind us, Stitch and I go get some breakfast. I talk about math, a new chapter book we should start reading together, and school. Stitch doesn't like the chapter book idea, but it's Phantom Tollbooth which is one of my favorites (and a stunning allegory into the world of figure skating.) Stitch then makes the statement that Group Classes are boring. "They're boring because you ignore the coach and don't work hard," I tell him. It's true, without someone looking right at him, he half-asses it. Stitch rolls his eyes. "Better work today, it's evaluation day."
"Ugh!" says Stitch.
We head to Home Rink, put on skates and there is Coach. Apparently this entry form is my responsibility this time, as she hands it back to me and says to mail it. Blah.
I sat for awhile to wait, watching the Coach Olympia Club chatter on a bench. Coach Olympia was in the middle, all her adoring students showing their evaluation papers for her blessing. She eventually called them over to the far corner for stretching. "Prepschool!" she shouted. "PrepSchool! Get over here! Run!"
"Which one's PrepSchool?" a girl asked.
"The boy," Olympia sighed.
"We have a boy," girl points to blond boy.
"The other boy," Olympia snaps. They start doing stretches and I just warm up skates using the bathroom hand dryer.
"Stitch, can I stay in the lobby today?" I ask, putting on skates.
"I'll be at the glass playing fishbowl, is that okay?"
"I'll still see you. I can't play fishbowl?"
"I have to be in there? It's cold in there."
"I need you in there."
Hard to argue with that, so I put on my coat.
And I sit on the cold bench in the cold room, watching Coach Olympia seem to do everything possible to get in the way of Stitch's back crossovers and spins. She kept running her two tot skaters right down the middle of the rink rather than close to the boards, so Stitch and Coach were chronically interrupted. Richie Rich and Coach Diamond seem to have hit a wall. There's nothing new going on here, they seem to be at the same place they were a month ago; forward crossovers and backward half pumps. Richie Rich just doesn't seem all that interested in lessons, and Coach Diamond is phoning it in.
The good story is the Dad and his Tot on skates, on Practice Ice, with the both of them falling all over each other. These kinds of things are fine at Public Skate, we expect it then. But not here. Here, you're just embarrassing yourself. Dad picked up Tot (eeeeeeeeeeggghhkkkk), carried him to mom and pointed to the skates. He went off in another language, but I could surmise that Dad blamed Mom for poorly tied skates. Dad was accurate, Mom slipped off the skate while it was fully laced up. I thought about offering to help, but I thought I'd have better luck bailing out the Titanic. Dad then went back onto the ice where he nearly bowled into Coach Olympia, which, had he completed the move, would have been my awesome moment of the day.
Mom decides that Tot is done, so she lets him run around. Tot finds the cones, and tastes them. My yeeeccchhhggg reflex darts to stop him, Mom actually gets testy with my interference, and takes him away. Tot begins screaming bloody murder, a howling, back arching fit. Everyone on the ice is disturbed by this, but she doesn't take him out. Finally, after getting dirty looks from everyone and me just laughing at her, she leaves with Tot.
Coach begins yelling at Stitch, and to my surprise, Stitch was responding. I think she's feeling him out. Go ahead, yell at him. I like Coach's style, she's 20% Mary Poppins and 80% Jack London. Stitch needs a no-nonsense teacher. I wish his school Teacher would get this. They come off the ice, and Coach informs me that they are aiming for a Perfect Program for March. She's aiming for solid elements. I like this.
She gives me "homework;" Spiral and Lunge stretches Stitch must do at home. We got lazy over the holidays and stopped stretching, so I'll start doing that again. There's some ice on the Big Rink tomorrow, which is good since Pub Skate got relegated to the Small Rink. (Dumb.) Stitch is starting to drag, but he's just got to hold on for another half hour of Boring Beta. "Stay off the wall," I turn him loose on the ice. (He hangs on the wall, and when that happens, he goes off into his own world. That's when class gets "boring" for him.)
So, I watch Group Classes and Group Parents. My skating Saturdays always wind down with Light Entertainment. At least two moms were flapping their arms, several were tight lipped at the sight of clipboards, and the dads were bored. I watch Stitch, again blowing off the Coach and I give up.
Evals get done, and Stitch is dismayed by his paper. Back XO, both directions, "Needs improvement."
"But I did them," he says.
"Did you do them right?"
We take off for home. Public Skating tonight, and some surprise Practice Ice tomorrow. I'll rework The List to do more program elements, and of course we will do stretching. A really great day, but it's really too bad that Dad didn't hit his target.