Last year, this very weekend, I was desperately trying to figure Stitch's skate size, and worrying as the group of Pre-Alpha's went crawling down the wall. This year, I was watching him tear across the ice, evading a group of girls who were chasing him, squealing and laughing.
This morning after his Private Lesson, I told Coach, "Do what you want, but don't forget those patches. He asks me all the time."
"Then you have to go through Mysteria."
"Mysteria told me to go through you."
"I don't have them."
I rolled my eyes. "Fine. But don't forget about them. They're important."
Over breakfast I debated emailing Mysteria, but the thought of a week's worth of stupid emails made me want to cry. So, when we got back to Home Rink, I just asked outright. I went to the counter and asked for Mysteria. "He needs to get tested for his Beta patch," I said. "And he still needs the Pre-Alpha patch. I know, I'm sorry, but he keeps asking me."
"Okay," Mysteria was actually personable this time. Maybe the sight of the row of USFS patches made her want to even things out, I don't know. "Come to the small rink in a little bit, and two patches."
Whatever. I was just through with this stupid process. I wanted it done. Mysteria comes out and she starts running Stitch through his paces. Imagine my chagrin when Stitch doesn't do true "Crossovers" but does Cutbacks instead. It's what he sees the bigger skaters do, and the Big League Skaters, and that's how Coach S passed him in Group Class, so it's what he did. Mysteria about had a fit. Coach got called over to correct the issue, and Mysteria was sure to tell me that she was begrudgingly passing him. (Again.)
I really wanted to say something. I really did want to ask if she had seen some of the kids in the Pre-Freestyle group lately. There's a girl in there who can't do back crossovers well at all, and yet there she is. It just seems kinda nuts that asking for the standard gets you rougher handling than if you just slip under the radar. But I didn't say a word. In fact, when Coach starts insisting that Stitch be bumped to Pre-Freestyle, I'm going to say no. Let's get those 3 Turns and Mohawks absolutely solid. When people ask me why Stitch is still in Gamma, when he's clearly a stronger skater than some of the young kids out there, I'll just have to answer, "Because he's doing the formal testing process, so he's got to do it better." Let's see what havoc that causes.
A year later, and I've learned a lot, and I think I've garnered something of a reputation. Stitch has established himself as a talented skater. Other moms ask me for advice often. Some moms don't talk to me at all anymore. Some moms of bigger skaters now acknowledge my existence, other ones freely talk to me. This morning when I told Ms. V that we were coming back to watch the Speedskating Meet right after the Comp, she looked up at me hopefully, "Does Stitch want to do Speedskating?" No, we're cheering on a friend. Sorry! I had a Coach squeeze my elbow and give me a smile this morning, and I didn't even think he knew me. When I was chatting with another Coach, Coach Y appeared out of nowhere and diverted my attention. I was just talking about other stuff, not skating. (Besides, he's nice enough, but I don't like how this other Coach teaches.)
It's weird, in every way. I've never encountered such a bunch of people who are so obsessed with success yet not interested in actually qualifying to get it, or so quiet and subversive about the process of getting anywhere at all. Everything I do know, I only know because I went looking for the information. No one really told me anything.
I keep thinking I'm going to find some big book that explains everything; why people are so eager to skip skills when they're so badly needed. Why one rink's management is welcoming and kind, and another is largely absent and irritable when roused. Why I sometimes feel so isolated, and why Stitch's skating ability seems to be at the root of that. Why once I get something learned, the unwritten rules suddenly shift without warning.
While I was talking with other Coach about costumes and sandbagging, he looked at me and said, "You're starting to sound like a real Skating Mom."
Crap, am I that obvious?