I would have skipped Practice Ice this morning had Coach not given me a stern look. Personally, I thought we'd beaten this horse into the ground last week and it was time to relax and let it go. But at ten we were in Home Rink, with Ms. Valium in full freakout mode and no ice monitor. Hey, free ice, right?
"Should we just have them change here? Will there be a place to change over there?" she's pacing.
"I'll just change him here, it's easier," I concur. "Let's practice first."
So we toss the Boys onto some largely empty ice, and away they go. Gordon stumbles through it as good as he can without Coach, Stitch works on this three turns and to my horror continues to confuse inside and outside edges. His problem? He overthinks it.
How do I work a Practice Ice through the Aquarium Glass? On most smartphones there is a "Party Sign" app. It's a scrolling marquee sign for your phone. Type in "3 TURNS" or "SPIRAL" or "RUN PROGRAM PLEASE" and you have effective, discreet communication with your small skater. (I would NOT use this during classes or lessons, not unless you want a Coach cramming your phone where you can't answer it.)
Gordon and his mom disappear, their call was an hour before ours. I look at the clock, Stitch has run three solid programs but is now dragging. I call it. Let's just go do this. We head out to the Lobby and I take Stitch to the restroom to change. As he heads out in the Gunther Gabel Williams shirt, you can see the collective loads in the Hockey Dad's pants drop. Stitch doesn't care.
We weren't in the door for three minutes at Rink Across town before Stitch and I had a dusting of glitter. The Swag Bags had glitter on them, the check in table was dusted with glitter, and just about every female skater had glitter hairspray. Stitch's black competition pants? Glittered. My coat? Glittered. I love glitter, but even this was a bit much.
I look for Coach, but being unable to find her, I assume she's busy and we head up into the stands. Stitch begins demanding to put on skates. "When is my warmup? When do I go on the ice? Are you sure it's not now? How do you know? What's my event number? Why don't you know? Go find out! Get a program!" I distracted him with the Swag Bag, (which had awesome swag, USFSA WINS on the swag!)and tried to figure out this dilemma.
While skaters are called by event number, there were no event numbers listed anywhere. Not in the program, not on the grouping sheets, not on the schedule, nowhere. All I knew was that Stitch was in the second group for his level and the warmups were theoretically at 12:15. I put skates on him and was ready to throw him over the boards in the case his name got called and I had gotten screwed up somehow. I saw Gordon on the ice, warming up, and I had some vague notion that his group skated right before Stitch's, so I was pretty sure we were on track.
Skating Moms, let me give you a general rule: If it's a song you've heard on the radio at least five times in the past two days, it's a pretty good idea to skip it when it comes to skating music. We heard Taio Cruz "Dynamite" at least six times. We heard Katy Perry twice. Some song from Mulan about "who is this girl I see" at least three times. There was some other number from Miley Cyrus we heard four times. This was all in an hour and fifteen minutes. I could have made Skating Music Bingo and earned a fortune. Predictable tunes are lame.
Also, costumes. The look of utter heartbreak on an older skater's face as she skated past the pint-sized dynamo who had just gotten finished was agonizing. They were wearing the same pale purple crushed velvet dress. Do something to separate yourself, but don't go nuts. Basic skills skaters typically look kinda silly when weighted down with crystal and spangles. You have to earn the right to wear bling, and sloppy edges look much more sloppy when you've got us all excited by your sparkly outfit. Don't wear what you can't back up. Girl wearing at least five pounds of Swarovski bored the crap out of me by doing lame toepick jumps for a good ten seconds (forever when taken in the context of a 60 second program) then wobbled her crossovers.
Stitch's Group got called down, so we headed to the rink door. I looked out into the lobby, where Coach was being held hostage by the Valiums. The looks on their faces were not pleasant. I waited patiently, and when Coach finally found us she went right for me. "Where were you? I've been looking for you for an hour."
"We've been here," I assured her.
"I had a warmup room, I was going to do stretches but now who knows. You need to come find me."
"I thought you were busy, we were skating as you said. He's fine, he's ready to go."
Stitch bounced, pulled away and went for the ice door.
"Okay, he's ready," Coach didn't seem convinced. Okay, next time, find Coach. Check. She went to go do her thing.
Mr. Valium approached me, stepping way into my comfort zone and grumbled. "Do you know why they grouped the boys and girls together this time?"
"No. Does it matter?" I lied. It does matter. Good Girls are really good, and they take this more seriously. There was a girl up against Stitch, and if she knew her stuff she could blow him out of the water.
"Well, since they put the boys and girls together, now Gordon won't get anything."
"He'll get something," I assured him. But I knew that Gordon was in a flight of five, and only the first three get trophies. Gordon might come away with a ribbon, and for Mr Valium, this was apparently catastrophic.
Mr Valium went away grumbling, and I went back up into the stands. I could hear Coach yelling at Stitch, and Stitch was getting mad. Apparently mad is good, because his spin was really good.
Okay, showtime. The kids filed off, and I heard more Taio Cruz and saw what might have been my first run-in with sandbagging. Basic 5 boy pulled his foot over his head in a spiral and jumped like this was a steeplechase. Thank god he wasn't in Stitch's flight, is all I can say. Stitch's competition, the boy we saw at Practice Ice, went first. He was a bit wobbly, did some weird things with his hands, looked a bit lost at points, but looked good. Again, if Stitch could turn on his Mojo, an easy beat.
Here comes Stitch. He smiled, stroked out in big easy glides, got into position and flipped on his Fancy Skater switch. Arms out, he kicked out lazy crossovers, flipped around, did smooth back crossovers, big bunny hops, and that spin. He's never spun like that. I lost count of the revolutions. He spiral'ed past the judges, big smile, whipped out his three turns and lunged to a finish. He bowed right through the announcement of the next skater, and departed the ice grandly.
Oh god, this might be close. I headed down for a hug, stopping to watch The Girl for a moment. She stumbled on a crossover. I'd seen enough. Coach was pleased. "He really put it together," she conceded.
Stitch was giddy. "Where is my trophy?"
"We have to let them get results up," I said. "Let's wait awhile." Coach and I talked about March, and while Stitch still is ambivalent, I'm going to go for it. His mouth says one thing, but his body language says another. He does spirals while eating Oreos for god's sake. He loves winning trophies, but he doesn't want to work for them. It's a continuing conundrum.
So we went back up to wait. Taio Cruz came on a few more times, and by now we were making up our own lyrics.
"I bang my head against the wall sometimes, singing ohhhh, make it stoooop oh,"
"I throw my skates up in the air sometimes, yelling noooo, not the blaaades, oh,"
"I eat some pizza in the car sometimes, mumbling mmmmrrrrpppffffooo, mmrfbolerrfo,"
Stitch began getting impatient. "Are results up? We should go check for results. Let's go check. NOW." We head back down, and I'm nervous. I look up at the paper and smile. I pick up Stitch. "Read the results."
Stitch mouths the names. "I don't..." he's looking at the judge's marks which at this point mean nothing to me or him.
"What number is to the left of your name?"
"Is your name on top?"
"I won first?!"
"Yup. Let's go get that trophy."
He bounces to the awards area, gleefully gives his name and takes his trophy. I'm ambivalent. He's going to lose at some point, what happens then? Oh well, doesn't matter now. I pay for engraving (Why the hell can't this be included, it's four measly bucks?) and Stitch goes to show Rink Pal who is selling flowers.
Coach is pleased, and we're all hungry and sick of hearing Taio Cruz. We watch the Freestyle skaters for awhile, packing up and heading out for some pizza. As we cross the lobby, we dodge skaters doing single jumps amongst the smaller skaters and the Hockey Dads with the misfortune to have a game that day in the small rink, their eyes glassy with confusion. A mom is terribly upset to the point of tears, and some other mother is drilling her seven year old on her "expectations for the day." Yes, time to go.
We're home now, and Stitch is wearing his US Figure Skating headband, writing in his US Figure Skating notebook with his US Figure Skating pencil and stuck the US Figure Skating post it's on his train cars. The Trophy is sitting alongside the first one, and Stitch says he wants more.
We'll do March, and then we'll break for awhile. Let's make the ISI Comp at Home Rink our next goal. Solidify what he's got before moving on. Besides, that was the one that encouraged him to compete in the first place, and he really wants to show his stuff at home.
If I never hear Taio Cruz again, it will be too soon.