Let's take a look.
The Skating Parent's Checklist:
1. Can you share your son or daughter?
Dear Coach. You have decided to take on Stitch. I hope you like bad puns, cryptic humor, a lawyer-like reasoning why he doesn't have to do any given task, and a memory that will catch you in every fib you forget about. If you can tolerate all this, and yet hear him when he says he wants to skate for a big cheering crowd, he's yours.
2. Can you admit your shortcomings?
Every. Damn. Day.
3. Can you accept your child's disappointments?
Can I teach him to request Shirley Temples at the bar next door?
4. Can you accept your child's triumphs?
Only if I can video it in super high-res, mega definition quality and upload it to Facebook, Youtube, Flickr, Picasa and Vimeo within 24 hours with the tag "FUTURE OLYMPIAN."
5. Can you give your child some time?
Every fraction of a second I can spare, during which I will smother him with big kisses which Coach will have to wipe off his cheek with a tissue, lest he embarrass himself in front of the cute girls.
6. Can you let your child make his own decisions?
Only if they are the right ones.
Do not expect this result on the first day. Or the thirtieth day.
Guidelines for Supportive Parents:
5. Supportive Parents communicate their concerns directly with the coach. Provided, of course, that the Coach isn't rolling their eyes and only marginally tolerating Parent's presence in the rink at all. Don't you have somewhere else you can be?
8. Supportive Parents avoid the use of fear. "If you don't land that Waltz Jump, there's a cold cot in the closet with your name on it!"
11. Supportive Parents avoid the use of guilt. "No, it's okay. I mean, I only spent $300 for you to get those mohawks. I know you only got second. It's okay. We can eat beans for another few weeks while you work on them. I don't mind. No, no, honey, I can skip lunch."
12. Supportive Parents show empathy for the Young Athlete. "Oh, you like Totoro? It would be a real shame if Totoro got maimed under the car, wouldn't it? You want to reconsider blowing off spin practice? I'm not really attached to Totoro. I know you like to cuddle him as you go to sleep, but cuddles with Totoro don't make national champions, do they?"
And of course the Boy is the victim of unfortunate numbering.
One of the Do's here is to "Read the Rulebook." What rulebook? The USFS rulebook? Really? I glanced over it one day when I was slow, and it scared me. Too many big words for my parental addled brain.
Another big theme is "control your emotions." In fact, this is the most often repeated phrase in this book, and one of the most difficult directives for any passionate person to follow. And Skating People are by default Passionate People. Who else was a wonderfully passionate person but kept a head so cool you could ice tea on it?
Spock wouldn't compare kids against each other. Spock just takes everyone at face value. Spock isn't upset by Other People's Irrational behavior, Spock just gets the job done.
So, what's your job? According to this guide, it's Self-Esteem, Good Habits, Proper Sportsmanship, Emphasizing Fun, Skill Development, and Striving to Win. I like this book because it doesn't pussyfoot around the Winning issue. Why compete if not to win? I know I've said to Stitch that "Skating your best is what is truly important," but let's be real. He wants that damn trophy and he wants "First Place" on it. I want him to win, too. But as Spock, I get the pleasure of taking him home after he inevitably loses, cleaning him up, and still praising him as long as he did his best. Winning can't be the end goal for me, only for Stitch. I'm Spock. Stitch is the only real competitor in this equation.
After reading this book, I have determined that Spock is truly the best Role Model for all Skating Parents. Spock wouldn't question judges, he would see them as the trained and objective volunteers they are. Spock wouldn't nag the Coach, he would just say, "Fascinating." Can you imagine Spock at rinkside, doing The Bird to encourage kids to hold out their arms? No. Would Spock screech at a four year old to "GET BACK IN THERE" after a nasty fall? No.
The next time I get the urge to critique, nag, complain or whine, I'm going to ask myself, "What would Spock do?"
USFS Parent's guide, I am now Spock at the Rink.