When we went to Rink Faraway, I felt a weird Mojo pervading the air and ice. I thought it was just because we were somewhere new, we had gotten lost, and general comp nervousness. I thought it would dissipate on the actual day.
It didn't. I felt that same Weird Mojo when I got up, I felt it as I double checked the skate bag, I felt it when I was polishing skates, and as we were leaving I thought, "You need to shake this, whatever it is, because if it's you being the source of this, you're going to sour the day." So I put on my bravest face, ignored the twinges of Weird Mojo in my pockets, and kept going. I gave Stitch a breakfast which he ignored, we played video games for awhile to pass the time, and away we went.
Getting to Rink Faraway was smooth as silk. I knew the way, we parked in a farther lot to avoid the chaos, and Stitch was working through his own pre-comp jitters in his typical heavy-handed way. I was making jokes and having fun. We got in the rink and it was of course, utter chaos. Half dressed children in various stages of being made up were chasing each other through the crowded lobby, vendor tables were obscured by mountains of Zuca bags and crowds of wide-eyed, terrified grandparents. Some asshat put a bench in front of the event sheets, so getting to them involved about a thousand "excuse me's" and risking your toes to some chick's un-guarded blades. I checked the sheets, and was dismayed to see that Stitch was up against two girls and no other boys. This was going to be tough.
Instead of hanging in the lobby, Stitch and I just went into the rink, as we were twenty minutes early. we watched the Freeskate level compulsories, where I saw Coach watching another of her skaters. Okay, there's objective #1 accomplished.
When that event was over, I headed down to let Coach know we were there, and where she wanted him. She directed me to an unused boy's dressing room (a hockey room) and said the most blessed words ever; "We're going to be civilized about this. There's no need to do this in the lobby." Oh, god, do I agree!
I went to get Stitch, and I was really hoping to just hand him to Coach and be done. No such chance. Ms. V, who had appeared at some point, and myself got roped into the Hockey Room, where I had to watch Coach calm Ms V and talk her through costuming. Ms V had bought a shirt that was practically identical to what I had dressed Stitch in for the last comp. I didn't know whether to be mad or laugh my ass off. But the shirt Ms V bought was a dance shirt, and didn't have the bottoms. The Bottoms on Boy's Bodyshirts are there for a reason; they prevent the shirt from becoming untucked. So boys can wear pants below the waist level and move freely without fear of looking disheveled as they perform. Gordon's shirt ended up being tucked in with his pants practically at his chest to keep the shirt from untucking itself. Worse, she bought him a lame (that's Lam-eh, not Lame) tie in colored polka dots, and a sash to match. I literally sat and covered my mouth as they worked over this poor hyperactive child, trying to get him to look presentable.
I'm a big advocate of Little Boys looking like Young Men. I never put Stitch in anything goofy, mismatched or in weird colors just because he was a small boy. Gordon looked like a goofy little boy, and I think he knew it. I felt bad for him. But I tried to help as Ms. V kept hitting me up for safety pins, pinning down the tie, the sash, something else and possibly her sanity as Gordon tore all over the little room in a fit of nerves and excitement.
All I had to do was put Stitch in his Fancy Suede Jacket and he was set.
Sometimes I wonder if Coach likes the fact that I take care of most everything, and she doesn't have to worry about Stitch and the basics. Mr V arrived, bringing in some used Boy's Skates from a vendor outside, and then the three of them worked over poor Gordon's feet for another twenty minutes, with Gordon whining loudly that the new skates pinched his feet. Mr V looked up at me, "Have you ever bought used skates for Stitch?"
"These ones he's got are used. They're fine."
Then they all forgot about me again, working over the used/new skate debate. Honestly, I felt left out as Coach talked them through toepicks and jumping and whatever. Maybe I need to start being more questioning, but I don't really need to care until we need new skates anyway.
Coach gave Stitch and Gordon some muffins, which Stitch devoured practically whole. "Hungry?" I asked him. "I gave you breakfast, but you ignored it."
He muffled a "yes", mouth full of muffin.
Gordon ignored the muffin, continuing to ping off the walls. Ms V looked tired.
Coach was in and out of the little room, I was anxious to leave, and the boys began tearing all around, Gordon bringing Stitch out of the Calm I had tried to establish. Ms V went in and out, Mr V disappeared, and I felt trapped. Can't I just go watch skating?
Finally Coach came and said it was time to go. I followed her and Stitch, Ms V and Gordon got sidetracked somehow and disappeared. I gave Stitch a hug, told him I'd be near the front to watch, and started to walk away. Stitch whined for me to stay. "No, I'm out," I said. "This is all you now. Go to it."
"Mom's done," Coach reminded him. "She can watch you."
I left. The Weird Mojo made itself felt, but perhaps now that I was away from Stitch it was okay.
I sat up in the stands, and Mr and Ms V sat behind me. This was why Twitter couldn't happen. As crazy as they were making me, I couldn't say a word because Mr V was endlessly quizzing me about any stupid thing that seemed to cross his mind. At one point he even asked, "Does Stitch have the same trainer as Gordon?"
Trainer? And did he think I was just hanging around them for shits and giggles? I nearly lost my shit with him at that point, but I held myself back. I replied, "Yes."
The kids took ice for warmup. Gordon looking lost and wobbly, Stitch having fun and running himself through his program. Really, it irks me that Coach likes to put these two together. It's starting to bug me more and more, because Gordon and his Family seem so much needier than we are. They pull a lot of Coach's attention, and I fear that Stitch might be shortchanged at some point because of it. I could be making things up, but watching Coach hold Gordon's proverbial hand out there while Stitch handled himself made that Weird Mojo seem stronger and stronger.
Gordon went on as the first of the two boys. I don't think he smiled once. He did okay, I mean, he didn't fall and he did the moves, but he lost the music and he looked miserable. Mr V began muttering to Ms V about smoothness and quality, and how Gordon could be better, and I just frowned. Something just felt so wrong at that moment.
Stitch's competition went up, and both girls had strong programs. One girl fell, and Ms V elbowed me, "Guess that means he wins," she laughed. I wasn't happy that she could take a fall to mean that someone else won. Stitch, the final skater of the whole bunch, finally took the ice. Once again, he was all smiles and excitement. He took his position, the music started, and away he went. His crossovers, forward and back, were sloppy as hell. His bunny hops were high, his spin was staggeringly fast, his spiral was strong as he smiled out at the audience, passing close to the glass. His three turns were much improved, his lunge was good, and he vamped at the end to run out the music like a true performer. But his crossovers were sloppy. I was happy for him, but he has to understand that if his connecting elements are poor, then that reflects on his placement.
So we were sort of done. I went to fetch him and gave him a big hug. "You nailed that one," I said. He was happy, but the Weird Mojo was still hanging, clinging to me. As we sat and watched some other skaters, waiting for results, Stitch's mood began to fall. He seemed to know that something was off. I had forgotten to bring some cash, so I had no way to buy any stuffed animals or anything, and so he blamed me for his funk. Whatever. I knew what was up.
We went back into the lobby, where Mr and Ms V were waiting for results sheets like buzzards wait for a goat to die. "They're not up," Ms V was so upset. "What's taking so long?"
"Dunno," I said, only wanting them up to get rid of this Mojo.
Mr V began quizzing Stitch on his patches. "Where did you get those? Can we get those? How do you get them?"
I explained about the USFS ones, that they could probably get them just by asking Nice Skate Director at Rink Across Town. But Gordon would have to be *snort* tested by Mysteria at Home Rink, just like Stitch had been. I bit my lip. If Gordon tested, officially tested out of anything over Alpha, I'd eat my socks. Mr V seemed to like these patches, though. "Honey, these would be cooler than trophies," he said of them.
Ms V shrugged, not really caring.
Mr V began pressing me on how to get patches, and I finally said, "Just call Mysteria and schedule some tests," before I had to leave.
Stitch and I watched some more programs, Stitch progressively getting more and more bummed out. "What's wrong," I elbowed him.
"Hm," he didn't answer.
"You did good," I tried to encourage him.
"And you're broke," he wanted a stuffed flower.
I ignored him.
We headed out again, Stitch nervous and me just wanting it done. Ms V hit me at the door. "He should have won," she sounded apologetic.
Stitch won second place, which isn't bad when you consider that he was up against two girls. Gordon got another third. (His third third.) The two boys went to the Awards counter, where two girls were only moderately congratulatory and were annoyed when asked to change out the girl skater to a Boy Skater on the trophies. "Do you want me to change it to a boy?" she asked Stitch.
Stitch looked at her like she was nuts. "Well, yeah."
Nothing says "congratulations" like an eye roll and the noise of a ratchet on your trophy.
So, second place. Stitch was bummed out. "My goal was first," he says.
"I know," I replied. "But you did your best, and that's good enough. Besides, the second place trophies seem like the prettiest ones." I think the apathetic teens behind the awards counter put the stickers on the wrong trophies.
Ms V began saying how wrong the judges were to give Stitch second, that he clearly should have won first, and that talk unnerved me as Stitch was right there. "That's not for me to say. They made their decision," I said. "And it's fine," I shut her down. In fact, it was better than fine, because now was a prime teaching moment.
Coach was pleased with them, even had them get up on the stupid little podium constructed just for photo ops. Stitch and Gordon stood up with some girl who did an amazingly cute program and we got some pictures. The Mojo clung to me, but now that we knew the final score, I started to relax. I took Stitch back to The Hockey Room to change back into his Real Boy clothes, where he was suddenly really bummed out.
"Stitch," I looked at him. "What's up?"
"I wanted first."
"I know. But you can't win all the time. You did good. Do you think that when Jeremy Abbott lost Nationals, he went back to the dressing room and moped? No. He decided to figure what went wrong and how to do better next time. And that's what you need to do. You need to go to Coach and ask her what you can do better next time, so you can try to win first again. Okay?"
"Now, get your coat on, get your skate bag, get your Grumpy, put your grumpy in there," I pointed to a trash can, which made Stitch laugh, "and let's go. We have a Speedskating meet to get to."
We headed out. Coach ran into us one last time, and she congratulated him once more. "He'll be fine," I said. "We'll see you next week, gotta get back to watch our Speedskating friend."
"Ah, at Home Rink, good. See you next week."
Stitch and I left, and the moment we stepped outside, the mood began to lift. I made jokes, Stitch began to chatter, and normalcy returned. We ran through a Drive Thru for lunch, raced back to Home Rink, and made it back in time to catch some Speedskating heats. Up in the rafters, eating fries and cheering for people we didn't know running a sport we knew nothing about, we both felt better. Stitch loved the gun going off, the bell on the last lap, and the inevitable wipe outs that are so much more dramatic than figure skating wipeouts. The little girl who dropped out of Figure Skating because she just liked to race around absolutely blew her heat away. Stitch's public skate Racing Buddy came in second, just like Stitch, during a great heat. I got a picture of them in the lobby for the scrapbook.
After watching a bunch of other kids coming in second, third, fourth and fifth, I think Stitch felt reassured about his placement. It's okay. You win some, you lose some, and it's all right.
We came home and found that Silver Gold is not only still alive, but seems to be making a full recovery. I've never seen a fish come back from that bacteria. Stitch was happy, bu now we're thick in the post-comp "now what" funk. This is the one thing I have yet to beat. Maybe Ms V is in the same funk, still holding out some hope that Stitch will take up Speedskating.