Last night I was sitting with Stitch and playing with Legos when I remembered some contraband in the high cabinet above the fridge. I beckoned Stitch to put on his shoes and coat, and come with me to "take down the recycling." I shoved a nondescript white bag and a box of matches in his hands, I grabbed the bottles and other crap, and down we went into the gangway. We lit old Firework Tanks until we heard sirens and raced back upstairs, laughing. Once the commotion died down, we went down again, this time with the old "party poppers" I bought a case of one year for some reason. I still have four tanks.
We all made it to midnight, playing rounds of dominoes and Scrabble. Stitch is still learning the art of Scrabble, so we play without points for now. And I watched in extreme pleasure as Stitch lost to his Dad with humor and grace. We've certainly come a long way.
Had anyone told me last New Year that Stitch would be on a path to becoming a competitive figure skater, I would have laughed my ass off. Stitch couldn't make it through a game of Connect Four without throwing down the pieces and storming off at the first indication of loss. Stitch would wail and cry at papercuts. He'd cringe in the shadow of the high jungle gyms at the playground. If someone made a snotty remark, he'd want to go home, and he'd wallow in his sadness for days. All his friends had neat things that were unique to them. Stitch, well, Stitch had no niche. And he knew it. He watched his friends do their swimming, their soccer, their baseball, and when I asked him if he would like to try, he always said a sad no. Perhaps it's for the best, I thought. Things like determination, courage, and competitiveness were just not things I saw in my son. I knew he was smart, I knew he had some potential, but I didn't know of any way to get him out of his self-imposed shell.
All of this changed. It's like night and day.
Now, when he loses, he sets his lip and tries again. When he's hurt, he brushes it off. When someone makes a snarky comment, he rolls his eyes and walks away. He's at the top of those scary jungle gyms. And when things aren't going his way and he's had enough, I can see those tears at the edges of his eyes and that firm look that says he's trying not to let them fall. (This is actually kind of sad.) Stitch has come 180 since last year, and it all started in March with that first Pre-Alpha skating lesson, when he fell and got back up.
Stitch isn't just on his way to being a great skater, he's on his way to owning himself as a whole person. This is what I care about, not the medals. Stitch isn't afraid anymore to show off his knowledge of science in school, he's not shy about his quirky sense of humor, he's.... he's just... grown.
To say I'm proud of Stitch is a gross understatement. I want to hold him aloft a la Rafiki in the Lion King, "Isn't he the coolest kid ever??" All this means more to me than any medal, anywhere.
I do consider what will happen if/when he decides to stop skating. It's become such a facet of our lives that we'll have a gap for awhile. I'll be fine, just give me something shiny to play with. (Swarovski Rivolis are a sure win. I like the green/pink foilbacks.)What matters to me is that Stitch has gotten so much out of it in such a short time.
The family is convinced that he is the next Evan. I don't care about any of that, really. Would it be cool? Sure, but what's really important is that Stitch learns this most important character lesson:
I made a resolution last night. I can fund the skating by selling boy's skatewear. Two or three shirts a month will be plenty to cover it at the moment, and the rest will go into savings. I'm getting my sewing machine today, the nice new high-test one, putting the word out and going on My Skating Mall. As Prepschool, Richie Rich and now Gordon are certain to be competing, then that's a solid customer base for a PreStyle skater. I've also decided to switch from beadweaving to bead embroidery. Everyone and their dog can do a right angle weave (but I have to say that I do a killer cubical right angle weave), and as such I can't do much with the jewelry. But I love shiny things, and skaters love shiny things, so $10 per hour for bead embroidery work. Includes design. (I am partial to Native American.)
Happy New Year, Skating Universe.