Monday, February 7, 2011

Two Questions

There are two questions that you, as a parent, will be asked every time you enter the rink.

1. How old is your child?
2. What level is your child?

I swear, I can time it. The minute I enter the rink, I start counting. I've never gotten past ten minutes before someone asks me these two questions, and always in that order. It's always the same Brand of parent asking, too. It's never from the mom struggling with rental skates and snowpants, it's always from the mom (or dad) with the kid in leggings and Jacksons and the kid "riding" on the Zuca bag in circles around us as we speak. Sometimes it's not the parent. Sometimes it's from the kids themselves.

You, as a New Skating Parent, need to be prepared for this phenomenon. If your kid is still in Pre-Alpha, be prepared for a condescending smile and some apropos comment about a journey, or an anecdote about their kid's lutz. Never mind that Backwards Swizzles are hard. I can do them, but I tend to get going too fast past my comfort level and try to stop by hitching up on my toepicks, at which point I do some windmilling action with some great sound effects before I barely stop myself from going face first on the ice. Stitch does them like it's his job now, but I won't ever forget those weeks when they were new. Skating is hard, and those offhand remarks about what that other kid is doing can make you feel dumb when you know that your kid is working hard on those damn crossovers and has the bruises to prove it.

I mean, what's the point of The Two Questions?

What is this, Starfleet? I've never seen a bunch of people more concerned and adamant about ranking since Chekov was in that alternate universe and got thrown in the Agony Booth for trying to off Captain Kirk. Never mind that Stitch is starting to land clean Waltz Jumps and spins like a demon, the moment I come out with "Beta," I get a sympathetic look down the nose and the ubiquitous, "Oh." And then they will usually state their kid's (or their own) ranking, at which point I don't know what I'm supposed to say.

I'm always torn between
A.) That's nice.
B.) Oh, okay.
C.) ALL HAIL CTHULHU!! **drool and wave arms stiffly**

I mean, what response is there?

I've even been lied to about Rank. Back when Stitch was a PA, a girl at Public Skate asked me The Two Questions, and I replied honestly. She then comes out with, "I'm Beta!"

"That's nice," was my bland reply. But I watched her do one foot glides and it was like Superman taking off with Lois Lane. She threw her hands up in the air (like she just didn't care), held her foot up for a second or two and plopped that baby right back down. She wasn't like any of the Beta's I'd ever seen.

Guess what? I see her now in the Alpha 1 class at Stitch's Saturday session. So, what was with the "I'm Beta," lie? Was it that important? Is there something I'm missing?

When I've been talking to new Skating Parents, I've been making it a point to not ask these questions. When I get asked them, I find myself uncomfortable. So, I don't do it to anyone else.

Maybe I need to get with the program and start asking. Maybe when I get asked myself, I can state Stitch's Name, Rank and USFSA Number and ISI Number, the cost of his Skates and hours of Private Coaching, followed by close-up photos of his trophies. "Oh yeah? Oh yeah?! Beat this, you Alpha mofo!" Then I can do a Victory dance on the benches. Would that be inappropriate?


  1. When subjected to excessive bragging, I say 'You must be so proud.' Toothy smile optional. Once I listened to a new mom speak endlessly about how her baby was SO brilliant, creative, advanced, polite, reverent, and brave. Because I hadn't yet learned YMBSP, I asked if the baby had published her 1st novel.

  2. First . . . Hi ! I just stumbled upon your blog last week and find it intriguing. My kids skate at your son's rink but I don't think I could place you or Stitch, so you are comfortable in your anonymity.

    Now onto my comment: "Kids lie". Kid 1 has a friend from school who told her she was in FS5 over and over. I didn't know she took lessons but there are many other rinks in the area so I didn't question it. Kid 1 and friend went skating one day and friend couldn't even stand up on the ice.

    Also, kids watch other kids and talk amongst themselves. A few years ago there was an outrage amongst the older girls because "Princess was in FS5 but she can't even do a mohawk". The older kids seem to go through stages with the little kids- - - 1st they are threatened by the little ones - - - then they become their mascots.

  3. Beth, I'm going to try the YMBSP response. It's polite yet unnerving. I like it.

    Anon, I'm easily identified by my diet coke and coffee addiction. Wait, that's all of us. Never mind.

    Maybe I was just brought up in a different arena of kid-dom, where lying about your skill level and ability could endanger others. I was a camper, backpacker and boater. (I still am. If you ever find me, you can ask me about the time I dragged Stitch halfway up a mountain to find an abandoned silver mine and he thought I'd lost my marbles.) I like honesty, no matter the kid's age. When you are honest about where you stand, that makes the goal so much more real when you get there.

  4. Nah, kids make things up. I ran into this with a relative of mine when I was a kid. Instead of telling me that she didn't like bike riding she told me she couldn't. After sis and I kept telling her that we would teach her she finally got on one of our bikes and took off on us. Sometimes it is bragging and sometimes the child just doesn't have the social/conversation skills yet.

    BTW, as an adult skater I love getting The Two Questions since I typically turn it into a game and see how long I can drag it out. "How old is your kid?" "17." They look out onto the ice. "Which one is she?" "I don't have a daughter." Dumb look around the ice again since there are no 17 year old boys out there. "Does your kid skate?" "Not much." They look down at the wheelie bag I'm dragging and then notice that I have skating tights on. "Do you coach?" "No." More dumb looks. "Why are you here?" "I'm a skater and I'm here for lesson/practice/test." Priceless!

  5. Wait til he starts getting Nuts on Ice solos. Then you get "Oh, that's great! My skater had that solo *last* year!"

    Don't forget, the circle of hell where the devil lives is a frozen wasteland with Satan encased in ice up to his navel. Just sayin.

  6. You are my HERO. Star Trek reference + figure skating = HEAVEN. :)

  7. But Xan, won't I be protected from that a bit simply because I have a boy?

    Anon, did you know that the original plans for Starbase One included an Olympic Size Pool but no skating rink? WTF!