Stitch has been actively engaged in Off-Ice conditioning for the past two weeks. Not the "front yard running" and "stretching with mom" stuff, but hard core jumping and running and lord knows what else. I don't know because I haven't been there. He says it's hard.
Dad got to go to one of the classes last week. I called when I was sure it was over and asked how it was. Dad sounded a bit terse.
"What's wrong? Is everyone okay?"
"Yes. She made me do it."
"Who made you do what?"
"Coach. She made me jump up and down the stairs."
When I collected myself, I picked the phone back up again I asked why.
"Because she says I need to show him how to do it. He can't do it on one foot."
"I threw my shoulder out."
The mental image of Dad affronted by a pack of tiny figure skaters who can jump up a flight of stairs on one foot, versus a hardy stagehand who is quite capable on both feet, is hilarious. Dad had given it his best shot, and made it up three.
It's true. Stitch can't quite manage it yet. Coach is telling us, "All the girls can do it. Why can't he?"
Well, I have some ideas. One, this is new. Give it time. We have all summer. Two, either he doesn't see the point of this exercise and can't understand why we're insisting that this is fun (it clearly isn't, jumping in the front yard is fun), or he sees pretty clearly what's coming down the pike and he's a bit scared. I understand both of these things. Three, he's a boy and doesn't possess a girl's innate desire to please her teachers. Boys do things on their own terms, so we have to figure out how to meet him halfway.
Last night after Public Skate, Dad was studying the benches. "Coach says he has to hop from the floor to the bench," he told me. "That's half his height. Is she kidding?"
"No. I've seen kids smaller than him do it."
Dad took both Stitch's hands and got him to jump, with Dad pulling him midway. Stitch was laughing and protesting, wanting to play with one of his friends and eat cookies. Now was not the time, so we headed out. Dad, in his manhood or something, was determined to prove that this either wasn't possible or that he was manly enough for the task. While Stitch and I went for the car, Dad began looking at the landscaping boxes that bank the building. The cement walls are about mid-thigh on him, almost the same as Stitch's "jump the bench" challenge.
Stitch and I watched, and I waited. This wasn't going to end well. Dad jumped the cement wall, landing squarely on both feet. "See! I can do it!" he's obviously proud of himself. "Now you have to do it, Stitch," he jumps back down.
Stitch rolls his eyes and gets in the car.
The moment Stitch is out of sight, Dad crumbles. "Oh, god my knees."
I'm dying with laughter.
Stitch is absorbed in birthday presents that arrived in the mail, done with all the jumping for the day. He laughs at us both and we head home. One of his gifts was a new Owly book, signed by Andy Runton himself with a beautiful illustration of an Owly birthday party. A good day.
What began as an exercise to prepare Stitch for the arrival of single jumps in the fall has evolved into a Family Challenge. Dad's jumping, I tried it but I'm not sure I can get too far with my heart being what it is, and Grandma looked at us like we expected her to flap her arms and fly to Venus.
According to the ISI curriculum, the first single jump learned is in Freestyle 3, The Salchow. I know it's an edge jump, but please don't ask me to ID it in competition. After single jumps they all become "double twist things" to me, even if they're quads.
Stitch can make it all the way around on both feet, even on the ice. He does it to scare me senseless, and he knows it. I think I can use this.