We arrived at the rink with Stitch in good spirits. Sure enough, as the days progress and we settle into a routine, he is arguing less and cheering up. I left a coupon in the booth and went to help Stitch jump the stairs. I hold his hand, as he's still unsteady on one foot. (Who wouldn't be?)
He's getting better. His leg strength is improving, and I'm proud of the effort he's showing, even if he does whine. And it shows on the ice. His jumps are higher, but right now there's a tradeoff; you either get height or line, but you don't get both.
We stepped out into the lobby to get skates on, and Coach Xan handed me an Ice Halo to try. Stitch loved it. He put it on and started butting his now Halo'd head against anything he could find. I sent him out with it, and honestly it looked like he had an ear warmer on. "I'm going to try and fall on my head!" he said confidently.
"Please don't," I replied helplessly.
But Coach would have none of it. She took it off of him and handed it back to me. I expected it. The fight for safe headgear will be a long crusade through the swamp of skating culture where line and cute trumps safe and secure. More on this later. I see both sides and this won't be easy.
Coaches, in case you noticed the parents grouped around the vom entrance to the rink, that's where we can get a weak wifi signal. So I watched casually while looking up stuff for work and Facebooking, and was very pleased with what I saw.
Stitch was working hard, doing as he was told, trying his best, and showing a side of himself I hadn't seen in awhile. He would miss an element, tug his hair and growl in frustration, but he'd try again quickly. He and Gordon worked through waltz jumps, started on Sit Spins, Salchows and Flips. And while Gordon may have the Stupid Duck better than Stitch does, Stitch can spin. I discreetly recorded some of it for posterity.
But all Golden Moments are just that, moments. Coach had the boys race the rink, which indicates that she's done. Ms V came over to me and began asking me how I get Stitch to do his homework. "I don't understand, I'm ready to cry some nights. It just takes forever. Last night it took three hours! What do you do?"
She didn't like my answer of "Steel yourself and slog through it. Sit on him if you have to."
"But, what if I let him fail once or twice, just to embarass him? Will that make him learn?"
"I tried that a few times, and I emailed the teacher to let her know I was doing it. But again, nothing happens overnight. Stitch is just now showing some improvement in motivating himself. You're in for a long fight."
"But I can't take it! This is so obvious! I don't have time to do this every day!"
"You make time," I looked at her. I felt her pain. There were nights I was ready to throw things at Stitch, nights I had to literally walk away to collect myself before returning to push his obstinate little nose to the homework grindstone. "Be tough. Be consistent. It will happen, but it's going to take time."
Coach came off the ice and went right for Ms V. "He did very well," she spoke of Gordon. "He learned a jump from Freestyle 3," she touted that to Ms V, and Ms V was suitably impressed.
Gordon is in Freestyle 2, which kind of surprised me since he was in FS2 over the summer while Stitch was gone.
I'd had a good day and was feeling my oats, so I just interjected myself into this happy little back patting session (which I typically get left out of.) "Hey, how about those jumps? Getting higher, I'd say!"
"I've been having him jump the stairs and jump at home. I think it's working."
Ms V, not to be outdone, marveled at how difficult the skating was getting. "I don't think I could do anything they're doing."
"No kidding, I'm learning crossovers and it's tough," I was definately in a good mood.
Coach gave me a look, which I couldn't tell was pleased or surprised.
I just blathered on. "I mean, I'm trying to get an outside edge better, and that sh*t is f*cking terrifying." It just fell out of my mouth.
Ms V looked at me in horror, and Coach had a laugh. "I think we're done."
The boys ate the candy Coach had given them and got skates off. Ms V told me how much she liked having the boys do lessons together.
"I do, too," I agreed.
"You do? You don't mind?"
"No, I never mind. Nothing makes me happier than having them together."
She looked at me strangely. "Really? You mean that?"
I looked at her straight. "I really mean that. The boys need to stick together. I will do anything I can to have them together. They learn better together."
"But Stitch is so much better..."
"No, they're about the same. Gordon's good at stuff Stitch isn't, and vice versa. They feed off each other. It's perfect."
"Oh. Well, I'll try to make this happen more often, but it's a long day," she sighed.
Lady, I've been up since 5:30am. Coffee is your best friend.
The Ice Halo was never mentioned, but I like it. Stitch liked it. I don't know if it may have lessened or prevented his one head injury (run in with the boards, ouch) but it's at least one line of defense. And it beats a bike helmet. Again, I'm still thinking about this one, but I will say that change of this sort never happens fast. Skating culture is really deep, and we're in for a long slog, just like Stitch and his homework. More on this later. Much more.
The boys rode their Zucas out of the rink, Ms V was exasperated and I was laughing. As ridiculous as it is, it is kinda funny. Once around the corner and in the safety of the dark, I grabbed Stitch and hugged him. "You did great today. Thank you for doing your best."
"Uh, okay," Stitch rolled his eyes. As he gets older, he has less and less patience for visible displays of maternal affection. (But he still likes his back rubbed during bedtime stories. Don't be fooled.)