Last night, first night back at lessons. I skipped work a bit early, crashed through the apartment to grab the Zuca and flew to the nearby park where Stitch was playing with a friend and a neighbor. My addled neighbor was confused when I said, "I don't have time, I'll get the lunch bag later. I just need Stitch."
"But there's other stuff..."
Stitch rolled his eyes and got in the car. He was in his skinny jeans. I hate those skinny jeans. Who makes skinny jeans for small boys? Evil people, that's who.
"Stitch, you can't wear those for skating."
"Because you can't move in them. It doesn't work." But it was also my fault because I hadn't packed a pair of skating pants in the Zuca. Well, it's our first day back, I figured we were allowed some leeway.
Stitch was ambivalent about lessons. Crabby, actually. In a perfect world, I would have given him a Public Ice session to play before having a lesson right off. The four day a week skating camp from June had nearly burned him out, and I had learned my lesson. There's only so much he can take. So, I assured him the lesson was just a half hour out of an hourlong practice ice and sent him on his way.
Coach arrived and greeted us, welcomed us back, and I took my place in the stands. I directed Stitch when he appeared aimless, and I could tell he was all out of sorts. His blades had some serious rust issues since the folks who had taken him skating didn't know to take the soakers off once home from the rink, and he just looked unsteady in general. Six weeks off the ice will do that. I know I'm not looking forward to my first session back. He was scared to do his bunny hops, actually, but he didn't fall.
There was practically no one at this ice. The monitor booth was empty. I had left the coupon on the CD player with the cryptic notebook (not before poking around through it first) and just went back down to direct Stitch. Coach came over and handed me a CD. "Can you play this? No one is up there," she seemed irritated.
The "eject" button was the most difficult part of that damn CD player. But I got it and played what seemed to be a Long Program for one of Coach's high level girls. Not bad. But the Ice Monger (inside joke) must have heard the music over the PA and suddenly appeared in the booth doorway. (Again, remember, the booth is SACRED TERRITORY.)
"What is going on?" she asked.
"Coach needed some music played."
"She needs to learn to wait."
"I mean, she can't just do that. She needs to learn to wait for me."
I know a meaningless territorial eyerolling argument when I hear one, so I just stood up. "Well, the CD is in there. So help yourself."
The Ice Monger settled her butt in the chair. "I'm not mad at you, of course," she kept on.
"Of course not, there's no reason to be."
"But she can't just do that, and she always does this. I'm mad at her."
Personally, I would love to see Coach eat this woman for breakfast, so if she decided to ever take it to Coach I would need to be sure my camera was charged. Ice time is valuable, Regionals is in October, and Coach doesn't have time to wait for this person to wind up her conversation about Montessori Preschools in the Lobby. Coach needs her kid's music played. Full stop. I walked away.
Coach finished up with the first girl and turned to Stitch. Now, bear in mind, the last time I saw a lesson was just before the July Open, which was dedicated to the competition. I didn't know what they were working on during those four weeks in June, but I had some notion that Coach might try to push Stitch through the FS2 paces just to keep him in step with the other kids in her stable.
I was right.
I saw a beginner Salchow and a sloppy run of a full rotation Flip. I only know these jumps because I know the order they're learned in, but he was doing them. Despite his unsteadiness in the first half hour, he was doing pretty well now. Not high jumps, barely getting off the ice actually, but he was trying. When he got frustrated, which was often, he jammed his hands in his pockets. That was bothering me more than anything. The pockets would have to go. And the skinny jeans were really screwing up his spiral, as I expected.
It seemed that all the skills he learned in early Summer would be quickly salvaged with a little ice time and some coaxing.
Coach came off the ice. She told me to register him for Freestyle 3, and that he could do everything in Freestyle 2. I'll have to verify that, and my push for actual testing begins anew. There are no competitions that I know of on the immediate horizon, so it may serve us well to not bother with programs and work on the jumps. Height, to be specific. Jumps, basics, getting his confidence on the ice back. And fight for a FS2 test, with the claim that he can't go through another round of three tests at once.
Coach tried to schedule another lesson, and I'll have to see. I'm putting in extra hours at the Old Theatre, and when I mentioned that, she gave me a sidelong look like I was crazy. Am I? Possibly. Working 8am to 10pm does, on the surface, sound nuts. (But when you walk into a theatre and smell that smell and love that space, it's not really work. It's stuff you enjoy doing that you happen to get paid for.) Coach will have to adapt even further to a Theatre Family. As of now, Wednesday Evenings and Saturday Mornings are sacred to skating for Fall, but I can promise nothing more. (Stitch may wind up doing homework in a 100 year old theatre lobby this year, and he's excited by this because I told him of the fact that it's haunted.)
She wanted him at a lesson at 8:15 with a few of her girls this morning, and at a clinic this afternoon if possible, but again, I remember Stitch being burned out nearly completely by daily lessons. I let that go. One Group Lesson and One Private Lesson per week, with a few hours practice in between, is all Stitch can do right now. It's okay.
Out in the lobby, Other Kid was right in my face. I didn't miss this one whit. "What level is Stitch going to be in?"
"Uh, Freestyle 3."
Stitch was rolling his eyes, anxious to get away. I pulled his skates off of him, threw him his shoes and told him to check the book racks for anything he liked.
Other Kid was undeterred. "What do you learn in freestyle 3?"
"I don't know." I knew.
Other Kid turned to his Coach. "Coach? What do you learn in Freestyle three? A sit spin?"
At that point my brain borked and I made a hasty exit. I bid goodbye to the office folk, again saying we'd missed them, and Stitch rode his Zuca out.
"I'm going to kill you," I shook my head.
Stitch just laughed.
But once home, I sewed the pockets of his skating jacket shut. He was so mad, he went to his room and shut the door.
"Stitch, I can tear this out at any time," I told him. "You can get your pockets back. But you can't have your hands in them on the ice."
He still didn't understand, but a few winning hands at poker cheered him up. (Pair of tens and pair of kings.)
Friday night is my first night back on the ice, and so while I see if my crossovers survived my sunburn I will coax Stitch to jump a bit higher, do three turns and get back into a routine. We can take those stairs together. It's three high flights to the upper balcony, so heaven knows there are plenty of stairs in the world for us.