Last night Stitch and I headed out for Public. He skated, I did beadwork and chatted with Rink Pal. You know me, always talking. I coerced Stitch into some practicing, and while I seem to have reached a marginal impasse with the newer moves, it remains hard to have him actually do something useful. (More on this later.)
All the sudden, Rink Pal comes strolling in and says, "Other Kid got new skates."
"Finally," I threw up my hands. This poor kid has been in Moonboots since I first met him. My first thought is, how awesomely awful is this gonna be?
Sure enough, here comes Other Kid, all straight legs and arms and new skates. "I HAVE NEW SKATES," he proclaims.
"I see that, what kind are they?"
"They are Freestyle skates! Because I'm in Freestyle!"
"Yes, but what brand are they?" I'm asking because I may be in the market for new skates soon.
"They're Freestyle!" and he goes on the ice.
His mom comes in. "He has new skates!" she says.
"Yes, he showed me. He should take it easy while he adjusts to them."
"They are Freestyle Skates. His coach told us that if he doesn't have better skates, he won't pass."
Well, I can think of a million other reasons why he won't pass, and his skates have little to do with any of them. "Hopefully these will work out better."
"The toepick is bigger."
"Yes, that makes sense."
"They are Freestyle skates."
"Oh, I don't know. They are for Freestyle skating."
Let's just say it one last time;
Okay, now that we have repeatedly established that Other Kid is in The Level That Shall Not Be Named, I settle in to watch. The results are predictably disastrous. If other kid was unsteady on his Moonboots, imagine the new physics involved with a longer, wider blade and a serious change in foot support. (When Stitch got his Reidells there was a period of about a week before he adjusted to the different blade and pick. Lots of tripping.)
Other Kid should have spent his time just stroking and swizzling around, forward and back. Instead, he was center ice, trying all his jumps and spins. Words cannot describe the sight. Rink Pal and I watched at the door, as I wanted to bring Stitch in soon to take him home. We stroked our chins and talked quietly about the sight before us. He revealed some ugly Rink Rumors about coaches and kids being pulled from them, about kids being pushed too fast, and kids who could jump but couldn't do basics. I expressed my concern of Stitch being subjected to a similar fate, but his love of competing would be my insurance policy. "He can't compete without testing, so he's got to test out."
"It's a good plan, but he's a pretty good skater."
"Let's keep it that way."
Other Kid came off the ice and sat next to me for awhile. "I can do a Toe Loop!"
"I know, you told me last week."
Then he tells me what a Toe Loop is. Again. I bit my lip and patiently listened, wondering just what was going on with this kid.
This morning we reported to the Rink for Privates, which was on the big ice thanks to the closing of the Synchro season. Stitch and Gordon skated around, I beaded some more and listened to Mr V badger Fab Skater's mom about how the onset of puberty in girls affects their skating.
"Things we won't have to worry about, eh?" I try to be funny.
Mr V looks me up and down. "But you have to worry about it."
"I did the puberty thing years ago, and I didn't skate. I was referring to the boys."
"Oh. Right," my joke falls flat.
Privates finish up, so Stitch and I sit up in the rafters, eat the breakfast I brought and watch the Flow and Moves or whatever class again. We watch Other Kid nail the wall again while making plans for camping trips this summer. I tell Stitch he's going to have his own backpack this year because I'm done carrying his things. This gets him excited and we talk about identification of poisonous snakes and spiders for awhile.
"I don't think Other Kid will pass," says Stitch, looking down as Other Kid flops around.
"Hooray, you swizzled, you pass," Stitch says cynically.
Now, I try not to express my frustration around Stitch. I don't badmouth other Coaches or staff. I don't complain about the leaky rink, the broken seats, the holes in the ice, the dirty bathrooms, or the strange lack of skating ability in some high level kids. But I know he sees it. This moment of just how much he sees kind of stunned me.
"It'll be okay," I assure him, and put his skates back on him.
Earlier that day, Ms V has asked me how to get the patches that Stitch wears so proudly. I tell her she has to ask Mysteria, and she can do that anytime.
"Is she hard?" Ms V asks.
"Yes, she's very strict about the standards. She barely passed Stitch on Beta."
"Oh. I don't think Gordon should do the tests then. He won't pass."
"You have to test before you can compete."
"We tried to do that before his first competition, but it didn't work out. We couldn't stay for the test, so he was never tested."
I think; Gordon's first ISI comp was at Alpha! So, he's never been tested, period! This is dangerous information, isn't it? "I plan on having Stitch tested for Gamma and Delta in midsummer, before the July Open." (This way the timing looks more accurate, after the Pre-freestyle session ends.)
Ms V suddenly looks sad. "I think we'll wait."
I suddenly feel a glimmer of vindication, something that might evolve into Victory someday soon.
Coach pressed for advancement, and that's fine. Stitch is doing pretty good in Pre-Free. Tomorrow Coach and I are going to sit down and work out a Practice Routine for Stitch, and I can let her know about Stitch's plans for two events in July. And how I want to be sure he's good for Mysteria's stringent tests before then. Again, Stitch wants ALL THE PATCHES. So, let's help him get them. We'll have a Freestyle 1 Patch soon enough and that trumps Freestyle Skates any day.