Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Don't draw attention to yourself!

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.


  1. You getting an on-ice perspective will be so good for Stitch. I swear it's made me much more patient and understanding when my son struggles with his skating. But I can't believe other moms give you dirty looks for skating! Where I skate, it's completely different. There's a growing group of moms who started skating when our kids did and we have a blast together. The non-skating moms think it's cool that we do it and they comment on our improvement. It's really fun and friendly. Come visit sometime, we'll go skating! ;-)

  2. I couldn't agree more! I think my daughter appreciates how well I understand the challenges skating can present. She had a couple of hard days earlier this summer with transitioning to new skates & blades, and it really helped that I could reassure her from my own experience.

    I can't believe other moms are judgmental of your skating either! Lots of moms (and dads) skate here, and all the adult skaters are really nice and support each other. The non-skating moms have been very complimentary as well. Definitely come visit!

    Emily D

  3. Wow, I wish I were brave enough to skate! One bad public session several years ago and 6 months in various equipment/casts/wheelchairs convinced me to stay off the ice. I applaud you for working at it, and understanding what our skaters are actually doing!!!! Screw those moms (I don't usually actually write stuff like that, but it is the only word that fits.) Keep it up!!!!!

  4. I am pretty oblivious of dirty looks, considering that for the first power class at Home Rink, I showed up in snowboard helmet and hard plastic protective gear. Young skaters looked at me in awe, and a coach actually asked if I am a speed skater :)

    PS: bike helmet is dangerous to skate in, but snowboard helmet is fine for spins or jumps.

  5. It's not all moms - most moms are happy and surprised to see me trying it. Just the Virulent Few make it awkward. This one in particular. But hey, I'm having fun and I think my butt muscles are already getting some needed work!