Friday, March 4, 2011

USFS Parent's Guide; Volume 3

This is the third and final volume, and it's "Support your Child to Reach His/Her Maximum Potential." 

There are a total of nine pictures in this book. One is of skating judges, looking serious, next to an article on how the International Judging System Works. This was actually pretty informative, in that I know what the acronyms stand for and what the judges were looking for on each mark. I'm still clueless about specifics, but I don't think I'm alone in that. One is of a woman sleeping, next to an outlay of sleep and nutrition requirements. I presume that she is not sleeping past six am. Two are of people exercising, in an article about Off-Ice training. Yes, you have to think about it when you're not at the rink, too. The rest of the pictures are of Star Skaters.

This one is the most serious of the three, and it's more of a testament to how fast skating can take over your life. In the first volume it was all shiny pictures of happy toddlers splayed on the ice, and this one details 2,500 calorie meal plans and fitness regimens to maintain through the off-season, into the pre-season and during the skating competitive season. There's a chart detailing the levels past Basic Skills, so I know what comes next if we get that far. There's a section on Rink Relations, which seems to apply more to Clubs than individuals, and Basic Ice Usage Etiquette which should be a no-brainer but I can think of a dozen people right off I'd love to give this to.

There's some more Anagrams, one of which is "AFFIRM" which is how to "encourage excellence without being a Pushy Parent." Well, frankly I kind of enjoy being Pushy, so I made my own Pushy Parent Anagram.

P - Prioritize. What's important for right now? Tomorrow? Next week? Next Month? What elements need to be worked on and what can wait? For Stitch, the past two months have been all about Three Turns, with Shoot The Duck coming in a sad "if you can get to it" last on his practice list. What Cool Skating gear does he have to have, versus what can wait because we need to buy basics like Ice and Coach Time?
U - Understand. Understand specific problems.When Stitch says something hurts, something is itchy, or something is wrong, I get him to give me details so I can fix it.  Understand what they're doing. I typically get a rundown on elements from Coach whenever something new gets introduced.
S- Sympathize. Falls hurt. Hugs help. Humor helps. But Sympathize. When Stitch says that it's an off day because he's just not feeling it, I Sympathize We all have off days. I don't criticize or nag.
H - Help. Help out Coach, The Rink, Other Parents, Other Kids, whoever needs it. I had fun at the last Ice Show. (The more I complain, the more fun I'm having.) I have fun making costumes, retying skates, offering information to new parents, and encouraging Coach's other kids. I can't wait until Sunday because I get the double bonus of seeing Stitch compete, and then attending the Speed Skating Meet right after. Help cheer on other skaters? And eat popcorn? I'm so there! And ask for Help, too.
Y - Yourself. Be honest with it. If it seems like things seem weird, they probably are. If it feels like I'm stepping out of my bounds, I probably am. I try to take an honest evaluation of myself, and if it feels like I'm lurching towards The Dark Side of Skate Parenting, I step back.

The subtitle of this book is "Enjoy the Process." I've often heard that learning to Figure Skate is akin to running a marathon. This is the most dead on description ever. One day that Three Turn is there and on and great, and the next day it's vanished into the ether. One day the lunge looks like a dog dragged behind a car, and the next week he's Jeremy Abbott with his chest and chin to the stars. An hour later we're back to Dog Drag. It's not like Spelling, where once you get it, you've got it. The Skating skill comes, goes, comes again, stays briefly, goes away, and then it settles in and takes up residence while taking a day's vacation every so often. The frustration I can feel is incredible; "but you just did it, do it again!" This is compounded when relations come from far and wide, standing at the boards with cameras at the ready, trying to capture a one-foot spin that looked so good on Facebook last week but has now gone away for no real reason. They look at me like "where's the stunt double?"  I've since decided not to invite family to watch practices.Yes, it's a Process, and a marathon one.

Enjoy this process? Absolutely I want to. The biggest of jugs will fill drop by drop, and so we'll get there the same way. How big is the jug? Buddha also said, "Do not think of how big the universe is, it will merely hurt your head."

I really do recommend that any new skating parent get this series. For the nine bucks (including postage) it's worth it. I did come away with a better understanding of where we are, what's going on, and where we can go from here. I showed this series to another Skating Mom and she declared me crazy.

Tell me something I don't know.

1 comment:

  1. I first stumbled onto that series of pamphlets at a coaching seminar, and could not believe USFS let ANYONE test without giving those to parents (yes, they used to be free). I read them cover to cover and just wondered, why did no one ever TELL me this stuff. Tell other skating mom Xan says she's the crazy one. Read them. At the very least, how can it hurt.