Yesterday was my first glimpse that what we're doing isn't exactly normal. I was sitting up in the stands, watching Stitch blow off the warm up coaches (typical), shivering and anticipating the end of the skating day. He'd started out with a lesson with Coach, followed by 45 minutes of Practice Ice across town, now Group Lesson and then we had big plans.
Skate Dad, with two kids in the program (one of which went pretty far in Ice Dance recently) came up and stood next to me. "Hey, how's your little guy?"
"He's down there. He's doing okay. How's the Dance Team?"
"Oh, they broke up."
Wow! I skooched over and had him sit next to me. Details, please! He kind of shook his head as he gave me the sorry details of the firing of a coach, the hiring of a new coach, planning a new training schedule and then the mom of the partner calling the whole thing off three days later. "Did she give any reason at all?"
"Nope, they just said they were done."
Just like that. "That's too bad, they looked so good together."
"We kind of knew things were going downhill. You can tell."
"What about the other one, how's he doing?"
"He's down there in Freestyle One. He didn't pass out of it last time, which is probably good. He can't get that move. But when they spend half the class doing warmups and just a half hour doing the lesson, it's almost impossible."
"Does he take privates?"
"No. But at these levels, you kind of have to."
"Maybe you should think about it."
"Yeah, but he's only seven. My wife doesn't want to push him like that."
I was shivering more now.
"What about Stitch? Does he do privates?"
"Yeah. With Coach," I pointed. "He does so much better in Privates."
At that point the lesson was about done, Stitch was done with a capital "D" and we said our goodbyes. I felt weird. Why not push a kid a little, even though they're seven? They've got to grow up sometime. I didn't think I had been doing anything strange, tossing Stitch in privates, despite his age.
I also felt bad for the Coach who had lost a team. Way back when, had I known what I do now, I would have asked this one to take Stitch. Now that he's got a solid thing going with Coach Y, it's hard to go back, but I know I've got a backup in mind if I need it. The whole conversation was an indicator of just how fragile skating can be.
I collected Stitch, who was audibly complaining, and talked to Coach briefly about his lack of focus during Group Lessons. I had to cut him a little slack, though, he knew where we were going next. Coach wasn't going to care, so I just had to let it go and say he'd do better next week. She said there were buckets of ice for next week, so we scheduled a put-in lesson. It's nice, just focusing on the skills now and not worrying about a new program. The Waltz Jumps are looking more and more solid; I'd watched Stitch do three in a row with the fancy turns and everything that morning. Even Ms V is liking this little break. (Which they ended up taking due to schedule issues.)
We left quickly, hit the store for some last minute stuff, dashed home, changed clothes and back out the door for the Comic Convention. Two of my friends are hard-core fans, and they stay with us over the weekend to save money on a hotel room. It's great, and this is the first time Stitch has been around for it. (He's usually been shipped off to a grandparent's because he was too young.) But now I felt he was mature enough, so I dressed him up as one of our favorite video game characters, gave him his own spending money, and off we went. I told him that we always order Thai (he loves Thai) we always stay up late and we always laugh a lot.
Sure enough, we ran into my Friends and had a blast wandering the aisles, brushing into Stormtroopers and Cosplayers, Stitch getting his picture taken (they ask, it's protocol to ask before taking a picture) and loading up on Simpson's, Looney Tunes and he even picked up an old book of Casper comics. I bought him a graphic novel of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which the artist was kind enough to sketch in and sign for him (you can't say I don't try.)
But the highlight was meeting his favorite Saturday night TV personality, live and in person. Yes, the guy who hosts the show we watch every Saturday night after skating, he was there. "He's REAL?" Stitch didn't believe me.
"He's right there!" I pointed.
We waited in a pretty decent line, and when we got up to the table I had to lift Stitch up since he was so short. "I'm your biggest fan!" Stitch said, the moment he was at eye level with his favorite TV persona.
TV guy laughed and signed a card for him. We posed for pictures and I said, "We watch every Saturday, but he usually passes out halfway through."
"So do I," said TV Persona.
Laughs all around. A good day. We came home, ordered buckets of Thai, ate ourselves sick, drank beer (not Stitch), and Stitch was remarkably conversational, funny and mature with my friends. We watched the Traditional Saturday Night show, as Friends had never heard of this guy and didn't know what the hullaballoo was about.
This morning we played classic video games and ate pancakes, with Stitch learning all the horrible traps we'd learned when we were his age. And again, he was witty and well-behaved. He stepped up to the occasion and I was proud of him. Every time I've held the bar high, he's risen to it. In this instance, it was: Behave well with my friends, and you can stick around for next time. The past instance was the 3 Turns and the January Comp, but that was more Coach than me.
One of the artists at the show told him, "You've got a pretty cool mom if she lets you come to something like this."
Well, yes. I am pretty cool, but he can handle it. (Sure, there were a lot of things there that were too Adult for him, but he's seen stuff like that. I didn't slam the Magritte book shut just because it has boobies.) I have to think the skating is the same way. Challenge him, and he steps up. Assume he can't, for whatever reason, and he never will.