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?