It's been a rough week. Just about everyone has been mad with me for one reason or another, and I'm drained out because of it. I was really hoping for a smooth morning of skating and fun. While it was smooth, I wouldn't say it was fun. (Not fun for me anyway.) So, if anyone gets mad at this post, you'll have to take a number.
I talked with Ms V while the boys overlapped on Private Lesson time. She was sure to remind me of Gordon's new level, and that she considered Stitch Pre-Free anyway, no matter what level he was in. Then PrepSchool's mom came over, and said that Stitch was a better skater than her own kid. The two moms on either side of me, engaging in such talk made me think I was about to get assaulted by some Coach with a baseball bat at any second.
Then Coach comes out. She was mad that I signed up Stitch for Gamma, which I was expecting. I was prepared for that. What I wasn't prepared for was the sudden rush of praise towards Stitch, in just about every capacity. (No other moms were present for this,) He's smarter, faster, better, more focused, and more capable, and to hold him back is "insane." Pre-Freestyle. Anything else is a waste of time and money. Still, I wavered. He's so tiny. But here's what sold me; Coach teaches a FS class on a weekday evening. If I can get him there, we get that class for half price. But there's no one else registered. It's an hour of private, and an hour of ice, at Group Class cost. This is a screaming bargain. I won't have to buy Practice Ice this session, nor get up at 4am on Thursday.
She assured me that it was fine, he could pass the levels if he wanted to, and she could see him there. I had just watched Stitch do a solid 3-turn, mohawk, waltz jump combo twice, and he was grinning and trying ballet jumps behind me. When I looked at him sadly, he gave me Sad Eyes. He wanted to move up. So I relented. Fine. But I was going to watch and see what happened during that Pre-Freestyle class. If Stitch faltered (not on the part of his dull edges) then I'd take him back to Gamma. I stepped outside, mad at myself, then back in to settle business and gather up Stitch. He was giddy.
We went to Practice Ice across town, knowing that this was the final few sessions of this ice we'd see, maybe ever. This made me sad. This, coupled with the fact I'd backed down and had to break the news to Dad after all our talks about "not rushing" and "enjoying the journey," made me ill.
Stitch, on the other hand, was walking on air. He did his List with gusto, spinning as he set his egg timer, flirting with his little girlfriend, and rushing over whenever she fell to help her. (Her coach was busy with another student at the time.) He was smiling and skating, and I had a Mom glare pure evil at me as I had to say, "No, Stitch. No more one foot spins. Do Waltz Jumps instead." I had to drag him off the ice early, as the Pre-Free session leaves no time for breakfast. He was Bunny Hopping, more smoothly and less crashingly into the ice, all laughs.
He left his skates on and back we went to Home Rink. I threw him on the big ice, and he joined the Freestyle warmups. I took care of business in the office, taking the role of Flaky Blonde Chick and correcting my "mistake." I then went to go watch. I sat up in the stands, high as I could go, but still a shivering ball of self-loathing. Dad joined me eventually, and he glared at me. "I know, I know," I said. "But he seems to be doing okay."
Stitch was holding his own out there. He was running through the warmups a bit slower than the rest, but he did whatever the coaches yelled as best he could. The only thing he had issue with was the power three turns, as I expected. Dad still glared as Stitch looked up and waved at us, smiling, panting and happy. He's the smallest one on that ice, but he was doing fine. Maybe this is okay.
The classes broke up, and Stitch did really good in the actual Pre-Freestyle class. I was impressed. He started doing some of the combo moves I see the bigger skaters do, albeit slower and more shaky, but still putting the elements together all the same. His waltz jumps grew more steady, bit by bit. I sighed, still feeling ill. Either way I went, someone was going to make me feel like I was making a mistake, and someone was going to be mad. I can't win, so I might as well lose in a way that makes Stitch happy. I can make the Patch schedule work.
Dad looked out. "Which one is PrepSchool?"
"He's in FS1? He can hardly move."
"See what I mean?"
We watched and talked, and things settled. Coach met us off the ice and wondered where his focus went. Now she gets to see how he is in Group class, which is probably a good thing. She can work on that. We talked a bit about skates, and new ones are certainly on the horizon. But she was happy with him. Stitch was tired. He'd just spent three hours in skates nonstop, and I couldn't blame him. We took them off, finally, and headed out for new shoes and a sharpening. (Crashing bunny hops ruin edges.)
At the Skate Place, Dad sat glassy eyed as a family of three little girls agonized and wailed over Zuca Bags, and I stood at the counter. Stitch stood beside me, transfixed on the Bunny Soakers again. "Can we get the parking sign?" he asked. (It's a sign that says, "Skater parking only.")
"I don't think the landlord would like that," I replied.
"What about the skate keychain?"
"Can we get the 'Coach' pin for Coach?"
"Maybe for Christmas, but not now."
"Can we get that?" he points to some other thing.
Silence. I figured I had already done something I swore I'd never do, might as well go 2 for 2. "You like those Bunny Soakers?" I remembered that day about a year ago when he first saw them, making sad eyes to get them.
He looked up at me, all smiles. "Really?"
"Sure, go get them."
He grabbed the package and stood beside me as the clerk finally took his skates. "What level is he at?" she asked.
"Uh, just started Pre-Freestyle."
A door opened. "Oh, well," she then starts going into some detail and giving me attention I'd never experienced at this place. She talked to the me about the blisters, explaining to how a punch-out could work for awhile, but try moleskin or Dr Scholl's blister things first, and she'd put a sealant on the sole to slow down the damage Stitch was doing. She then took some time on his blades, more than I'm used to. I was mad that this is what it took; the label.
Stitch hugged his Bunnies, Dad sat and tried to distance himself from the Princesses and their new Zucas. I watched the sharpening, which always amazes me, and the sealing process. What did you do, I kept thinking. Not just today, but everything. All of it.
Finally we left, Dad ushering me to "Drive! Drive!" We had some lunch and the sick feeling started to leave. Stitch was in his skating jacket and new shoes, which he said, "feel like my skates." Good. They're more hiking boots than shoes, bought to withstand Stitch's hard wearing lifestyle. (They lace up like skates, and I did the "over the lace hook" move without even thinking.) He played with his new soakers in the car, they make noise. (Of course.) I told him to wear his hard guards around the rink, but store the skates in his Bunnies. Dad sighed, a sigh of surrender.
We came home and put them on his skates, which I know have been done right this time because I cut up my knuckles handling them. At least I'll feel safer when he's jumping.
Tonight we'll hit public. I'll hang my head in shame, try to explain to my rink friends how I backed down, and I'm not proud of it. Maybe I can con the Public Skate Manager to play some good tunes, and I'll feel better. Maybe I just need a nap. I saw Nutso and her kids briefly as we left Rink Across Town, and I realized that I might not see much more of them. Shuffles waved and Precious sneered, and Stitch just walked away. No matter how much I try to tell him "courtesy, please," he just doesn't have patience for either of them. Maybe it's just as well today happened. Now he won't have to deal with Precious acting snotty and asking "can you do this?" as she tries a forward edge in Gamma.
At any rate, I feel like crap at the moment, and it's too early for beer. Stitch is doing dishes, of his own accord. He's a good kid. Sometimes I think I don't deserve him.