Sunday afternoon I hiked to the rink, to get some practice in and to cool off. I put on skates and started tooling around, even going backwards a lap and trying to get my feet in as close as possible, as per Coach. I'm getting better. I tried stopping without needing half the rink to do so, and debated trying a two foot turn. I can do it if I go slow and I'm grazing the wall with my hand. I'm still learning the weight balance for backwards half pumps, and my left foot continues to argue, catching the outside edge while it does so and threatening to send me down. We're talking, my left foot and me.
Most people I talk to are happy to see me actually try this stuff. They're encouraging and kind, offering tips and telling me I'm not doing as badly as I think. I'm getting a new perspective, and when I talk to Stitch at night I let him know about it.
"I don't know how you do it," I told him.
"I just do," he replied.
But Sunday I was on and off the ice, coming up for air and a Diet Coke. At one point I noted that the mother I call Condor and her girl Helmet had arrived. Condor I pretty much only see on Sundays. She brings Helmet, who is around Stitch's age and old enough to know that real skaters don't wear bike helmets. Condor sits in the stands and watches her daughter with eyes of steel. She will stand up and rant, flinging out her arms, shaking her head at bad attempts and even turning away at failed attempts. Many times she has brought poor Helmet to tears with her "thumbs up/thumbs down/WTF" hand gestures.
With my new on-ice perspective, I know that it's kinda hard to hold out your arms. With everything going on at your feet, your upper body gets lost in the shuffle. When Helmet was trying three-turns, with her arms low, Condor was rolling her eyes and screaming that "This is easy! Hold out your arms!"
Uh, no. It's not. But Condor doesn't seem interested in this perspective. I've never seen Condor in skates in the year I've seen them.
Sadly, one of The Rules of suburban parenthood is that you can't really say anything to other parents. So, I averted my eyes as Condor pulled Helmet off the ice for a moment, to draw in the condensation on the glass, telling Helmet in terse words precisely why she was awful.
That afternoon I tried a fast crossover on a turn, felt the back of my blade do a death rattle against my toepick, and decided that I actually did not want to sprawl out on the ice in front of Condor, who had been staring daggers at me all afternoon. I aborted the move and decided to continue working on outside edges on the turns, extending my leg and I even caught myself pointing a toe here and there. Not bad for someone who did Tap briefly in high school. I think I'm a year out from a full on Spiral.
Thing is, I know if I fall in front of Condor, or any of the other moms in the stands who give me dirty looks for skating, the results won't be pretty.