Sunday, January 30, 2011

Yay, Practice Ice!

Well, after listening to Stitch rail at the judges for making Jeremy Abbott "lose", I packed him off for some surprise Practice Ice. Typically we hit the Public Skate on Sundays, but that had been pushed to the Studio due to a hockey game. I decided to skip that today, and good thing. The Maintenance Friend told me that it was absolutely packed. I don't like chaotic ice, it's useless to me.

The place was blessedly empty and peaceful. I love it like this. Lots of space, no loud noise, and usually only the cool people are there. We ran into Fab Skater and Coach B, chatted for awhile and then headed into the rink. Stitch kept asking, "Can I go on? How about now? Now?" It's never good when he's running up and down the outside of the boards like a penned animal.

Fab Skater was coaching, Coach B was in the hockey box with her ankle, and Coach M was there with NariNam. NariNam's Dad held me hostage for awhile talking about how "if you teach your kid skating you know they're going to have a career."
"Oh, sure, they can always Coach..." I offer, not really sure what he's talking about.
"No, they'll either be a great skater, or they'll drive the Zamboni."

There was this weird pause as I realized that he wanted me to laugh. I was actually kinda horrified. Stitch was doing his forward stroking, warming up until Coach arrived, tying her skates pretty much as she got on the ice. Hey, Nationals just got done.

Stitch worked with Coach for the first half hour, with the new music. She was getting him to try some new connecting moves and arm waving, fluffing up the existing program. I'm not a big fan of arm-waving, but Coach has some nice ways to make it work with the elements. There was some more jumping, and Stitch was doing some toepick hops with his exuberance. NariNam's Dad even commented on it. "Is he doing a routine?"

"Yeah, they're revamping the old program for another competition." I mentally reminded myself to mail that damn entry form when I went by the post office tomorrow morning.
"Oh." He sounded contemplative. "He competes?"
"Yeah, he likes it."
"Oh," he concluded. And then he goes on about his goals for NariNam's endurance, then excuses himself to the lobby.

I watch Coach and Stitch, finding myself doing toe-curls inside my shoes during the three turns. Stitch catches my grimace when he mixes up edges, and it throws him off for the rest of the program. Crap. Need to sit higher up.

In comes Mr. Valium and Gordon. Yay! Mr. Valium looks discombobulated. He throws on Gordon's Skates and then starts throwing things out of the bag, on the phone with someone. Gordon is wringing his hands and whining, as Coach starts calling for him. I hop down to "say hello."

"Music," Gordon is whining.
"Honey, you didn't pack the music," Mr. Valium is terse. "Gordon says Coach wanted music. Gordon, did she ask you for the music this time, or did she do it just now?"
"She wanted music," Gordon isn't getting the question, because it's dumb. (Tipper; You keep a copy of your competition music in your skate bag and a second copy in your Skate Mom's purse until Coach tells you to ditch it.)

So the angry phone call goes on while Gordon goes on the ice and starts skating around. "Hey," I finally speak up. "How are you guys?"
Mr. Valium looks like he wants to kill me for being so perky.
"Did Gordon have fun last Sunday?"
Mr. Valium shrugs. "I guess. I mean, he got a trophy which he liked, but he came in third. One of those other kids, he was doing things above the level..."
"Wow, that's awful," I was frantically trying to remember the skaters but all that I could bring back was that stupid song.
"Well, Coach tried to question it, but it didn't work."
"Hey, he got a trophy, that's good."
Mr Valium shrugged. "So, does Stitch do anything else?"
"No. He doesn't want to. I've asked."
"Huh. Well, Gordon likes skating, but he doesn't have a passion for it. I mean, we're not thinking about quads."
"Me neither." I smile at Stitch, who is running his program again, alongside Gordon, who for the second time is using Stitch's music to run his program. Quads? Let's do proper Bunny Hops first.
Mr Valium is quiet for a bit. "So I'm basically wasting a lesson, since he doesn't have his music."
"You're never wasting a lesson," I turn to him, but he's actually on his cell phone, arguing with Ms. Valium again.

Where did the cool people go? I sigh and watch the kids, and Stitch is dismissed so he skates to me for instruction. I start giving him orders via smartphone, and Mr Valium asks what I'm doing. "Oh, it's a sign thing," I try to explain, but Mr Valium is apparently not interested.
"We're just not here that often," he brushes it off.

Things start winding down, and the boys spend the last seconds swizzling the rink from front to back before the zamboni chases them off. Stitch's squeal as he noticed the thing backing onto the ice was priceless. Maintenance Friend would never run him down!

Coach and the Boys exit the ice, and Mr Valium tries to flag down Coach, but she makes a beeline for me. She gives me some orders to have Stitch watch some music videos, perhaps to inspire him to dance, and I agree. We talk about the disappointment that Jeremy didn't make Worlds, but it's okay. Next weekend, we're on.

I declare that we have to stop at the store for Pie, since it was such a good practice (and it's so late and Stitch hung on like a champ.) A bottle of RG wouldn't hurt, either. We come home to Dad's meatloaf and mashed potatoes, and life is good. Stitch makes some amazing faces as I tell him he has to eat some asparagus spears before having pie, but he eats them. He starts whistling "Dynamite" and from there the conversation is downhill. Eventually we're down to farting noises and it's done, but in the best way possible.

Yes, even without quads, life is good.



If this doesn't get Dynamite out of your head, nothing will.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Great Ice Day

This morning I let Stitch do his own practice ice. I gave him the list, a pencil to check off the elements, and the egg timer. I went to the stands and held my breath.

Stitch worked. He went down the list methodically, even though I've told him he can jump around. Backwards one foot glides, backwards stroking, more boring crossovers, and those dratted three turns. Other Coaches did their business, and Stitch strategically avoided them. I only had to tell him once to find a clearer spot to work, and beyond that he was on his own. I bought him his French Vanilla, setting it on the bench to cool while he did three turns. I told him to take a coffee break at 8:30, which he did, and then he was right back to work. While I was very pleased and proud, this unfortunately left me having to listen to two moms of some young girl skaters learning swizzles and one foot glides. The two girls were running rings around their preppy coach, wasting time and playing with each other.

"Look at her, she is just so loving this," one mom went off about her own daughter.
"Yes, they had such a good time at the competition," said the other mother.
"She just loves to spin, but she doesn't know how to stop! Hahahaha!"
Blah blah blah.

I tuned them out in time for Nice Mom to arrive. I greeted her and looked for her little girl, looking much stronger in her swizzling these days. "Looking good," I commented.

"Yes! You were right, she skated more to get ready for the competition and I saw a big difference!"
"Yup. They just need to be on the ice."
"Did your son compete?"
"Oh yeah, he had a blast."
"Did he..." she trailed off.
"Oh, first place. Good times."

The other moms shut up fast and bored holes into the side of my head.

"What about yours?" I ignored them. "Did she get a trophy?"
"Third place."
"That's great! Congratulations."
"She was skating against those two girls," Nice Mom pointed out to the wobbly brats and I tried not to bristle.
"Well, I'm sorry I missed her. I would have loved to have seen her." It's true, I like her little girl. She took a hard fall on a crossover, and Cool Coach didn't help her up, but explained why she fell. Little girl got up and tried again, no complaints. Yes, I like her.

Stitch started doing Spirals, lazy and awful. Oh well, our next stop is Coach and she'll put a stop to that.

Nice Mom and I keep talking, ignoring the self congratulating chatter next to us. "So I should just bring her to public skate?" Nice Mom asks.
"Yes, just let her play," I notice that the other gabbing has stopped and they are glaring, listening to me. "I tell Stitch to do some work, like ten swizzles, forward and back. Do ten one foot glides on each foot, and so on. But let her play. It's comfort you're looking for."
"I'm going to do that. She loves to skate."
"Then let her skate."

At five to nine, I hopped down to the boards. "Okay, Stitch. That's the end of the list. Good work!"
"No," he zips by me. "I wrote something else!" he zips by again. Sure enough, he wrote "GO REALLY FAST!" at the bottom.
"Okay, but they're going to kick you off! There's lessons coming in!"

Sure enough, Stitch got booted off the ice. We headed out to the lobby and there was Nutso, sitting at a bench. "Hi!" she greets me.
I wave back.
"How was the competition?"
"Uh, really great. We really enjoyed it. Definitely going to try to do it again next year."
"Did he win?"
OH YES, HE WON THE WHOLE DAMN THING! "He took first place in his event."
"That's so great!" her tone is paper thin. "We have to see pictures!"
Why am I so unnerved at this moment? Why does she want pictures? This isn't making sense. Her daughter despises Stitch. Whatever, I wander over with my phone (which has all my incriminating tweets on it so I'm frantically closing applications) and show her the few pictures I got on it that day.
"Oh, look," she grabs it and shows That Other One. "Look at Stitch and his Trophy!"
Okay, now it's me and That Other One who are uncomfortable. That Other One clearly doesn't give a whit about some other kid and his trophy. I don't blame her. I take my phone back and use the thin "gotta get my card punched" excuse to leave.

With that weirdness behind us, Stitch and I go get some breakfast. I talk about math, a new chapter book we should start reading together, and school. Stitch doesn't like the chapter book idea, but it's Phantom Tollbooth which is one of my favorites (and a stunning allegory into the world of figure skating.) Stitch then makes the statement that Group Classes are boring. "They're boring because you ignore the coach and don't work hard," I tell him. It's true, without someone looking right at him, he half-asses it. Stitch rolls his eyes. "Better work today, it's evaluation day."
"Ugh!" says Stitch.

We head to Home Rink, put on skates and there is Coach. Apparently this entry form is my responsibility this time, as she hands it back to me and says to mail it. Blah.

I sat for awhile to wait, watching the Coach Olympia Club chatter on a bench. Coach Olympia was in the middle, all her adoring students showing their evaluation papers for her blessing. She eventually called them over to the far corner for stretching. "Prepschool!" she shouted. "PrepSchool! Get over here! Run!"
"Which one's PrepSchool?" a girl asked.
"The boy," Olympia sighed.
"We have a boy," girl points to blond boy.
"The other boy," Olympia snaps. They start doing stretches and I just warm up skates using the bathroom hand dryer.

"Stitch, can I stay in the lobby today?" I ask, putting on skates.
"What? No."
"I'll be at the glass playing fishbowl, is that okay?"
"No."
"I'll still see you. I can't play fishbowl?"
"NO."
"I have to be in there? It's cold in there."
"I need you in there."
Hard to argue with that, so I put on my coat.

And I sit on the cold bench in the cold room, watching Coach Olympia seem to do everything possible to get in the way of Stitch's back crossovers and spins. She kept running her two tot skaters right down the middle of the rink rather than close to the boards, so Stitch and Coach were chronically interrupted. Richie Rich and Coach Diamond seem to have hit a wall. There's nothing new going on here, they seem to be at the same place they were a month ago; forward crossovers and backward half pumps. Richie Rich just doesn't seem all that interested in lessons, and Coach Diamond is phoning it in.

The good story is the Dad and his Tot on skates, on Practice Ice, with the both of them falling all over each other. These kinds of things are fine at Public Skate, we expect it then. But not here. Here, you're just embarrassing yourself. Dad picked up Tot (eeeeeeeeeeggghhkkkk), carried him to mom and pointed to the skates. He went off in another language, but I could surmise that Dad blamed Mom for poorly tied skates. Dad was accurate, Mom slipped off the skate while it was fully laced up. I thought about offering to help, but I thought I'd have better luck bailing out the Titanic. Dad then went back onto the ice where he nearly bowled into Coach Olympia, which, had he completed the move, would have been my awesome moment of the day.

Mom decides that Tot is done, so she lets him run around. Tot finds the cones, and tastes them. My yeeeccchhhggg reflex darts to stop him, Mom actually gets testy with my interference, and takes him away. Tot begins screaming bloody murder, a howling, back arching fit. Everyone on the ice is disturbed by this, but she doesn't take him out. Finally, after getting dirty looks from everyone and me just laughing at her, she leaves with Tot. 

Coach begins yelling at Stitch, and to my surprise, Stitch was responding. I think she's feeling him out. Go ahead, yell at him. I like Coach's style, she's 20% Mary Poppins and 80% Jack London. Stitch needs a no-nonsense teacher. I wish his school Teacher would get this. They come off the ice, and Coach informs me that they are aiming for a Perfect Program for March. She's aiming for solid elements. I like this.

She gives me "homework;" Spiral and Lunge stretches Stitch must do at home. We got lazy over the holidays and stopped stretching, so I'll start doing that again. There's some ice on the Big Rink tomorrow, which is good since Pub Skate got relegated to the Small Rink. (Dumb.) Stitch is starting to drag, but he's just got to hold on for another half hour of Boring Beta. "Stay off the wall," I turn him loose on the ice. (He hangs on the wall, and when that happens, he goes off into his own world. That's when class gets "boring" for him.)

So, I watch Group Classes and Group Parents. My skating Saturdays always wind down with Light Entertainment. At least two moms were flapping their arms, several were tight lipped at the sight of clipboards, and the dads were bored. I watch Stitch, again blowing off the Coach and I give up.

Evals get done, and Stitch is dismayed by his paper. Back XO, both directions, "Needs improvement."

"But I did them," he says.
"Did you do them right?"
"UGH!"

We take off for home. Public Skating tonight, and some surprise Practice Ice tomorrow. I'll rework The List to do more program elements, and of course we will do stretching. A really great day, but it's really too bad that Dad didn't hit his target.

Ten Star Rewards Program

Last night I began the Ten Star Rewards Program. For every good day on the ice; good practice, good form, and no whining, Stitch earns a gold star. (Real shiny lapel pin stars, not stickers) When he earns ten stars, he can trade them in for a Special Prize. What's the prize? You tell me, I made a poll down there at the bottom of the page. Stitch seemed to like this idea, let's hope it works.

We missed Jeremy Abbott's SP last night, so we'll have to catch it later on today on IceNetwork. (And Stitch is really upset that Jeremy's in second right now, but this is a teaching moment about the nature of competition.)

I have to cut a CD and then it's time to make the donuts!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lernin' my Place

I got the link to the Pro Pics today, and oh are they meltingly adorable. I have some great shots of Stitch with Coach at the ice door, his first "skateface" and the moment when he smiled at the judges. I can't choose, I'm just going to get the CD with all of them.

But I realized something.

In every baby picture, you're not far away. Even if you're not in the shot, your foot is, or your hand, or you're behind the camera or just out of view.

Not these pictures.

I look at these pictures of my kid doing really cool things and I know that not only am I at least forty feet away, we're separated by walls of plexiglass and Coach. If something happens, he's on his own to fix it and carry on. It's not me who decides how good of a performance he did, that's up to the judges, people I don't know and who aren't interested in me at all. He won't answer to me about his mistakes, that's Coach's job. I knew his composure fell apart a little doing the three turns, but I'd never in a million years say it to him. I'm pretty sure Coach saw it, too. I have to let her handle it.

I've told Stitch a million times that if he wants me to leave during lessons, just say so and I'll go. He says he wants me around, but I've been able to slip away without him noticing more and more frequently. My goal with running Practice Ice is to eventually reach a day where he won't need my help.

It's not that I'm uninvolved. Out of the Rink, I'm listening and advising, encouraging and doing logistics. It's when the skates hit the ice that's when I'm literally on the outside looking in. But that independence is like that day when he realized he could reach the cookies, the expression on Stitch's face was indentical to the ones in every single one of his pro pics.

The biggest grin ever.

Yup, I'm just along for the ride. Let's just hope it doesn't end up like this.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Music to Ban from Basic Skillz/ISI Competitions

After my third night hearing bad renditions of Dynamite, I have decided we just need to establish some ground rules about competition music.


The following must be banned from play at lower level competitions:
____________________________

1. Small World.

2. Anything that has been on the Billboard Top 100 within the past 3 years.

3. Under the Sea

4. Anything with the words "dream," "wish," or "special," when used in conjunction with the word "girl" and involves speculation on future events.

5. Anything sung by a Children's Choir. (Small World sung by a Children's Choir during a Tot Program merits total ban on participation in future competitions.)

6. Any song that contains lyrics or innuendo inappropriate in context with a skater's age. (See Rule #2.)

7. Any song from any Broadway musical unless used in Character Spotlight Program with appropriate costume.

8. Fame (Either version)

9. Any song from any internet meme or viral video, ever. (See Rule #6)

10. Any song from Disney's Cinderella, Snow White, or Sleeping Beauty without a costume resembling said character -and/or- skater is under five. (Because then it's just mind-bendingly cute.)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I'm Not Bitter!

I've been thinking abour Prepschool and his sudden rush to PreFreestyle. I know, I probably shouldn't, but it's just so annoying. It's not healthy for me to so badly want a kid to break his ankle.

Stitch is rightfully confused. Just last month I remember the two of them at the ice door, talking about their nervousness about Beta. But now PrepSchool does three turns that leave you wondering how he didn't faceplant, touts success and says, "See? I didn't need to do Delta! Edges? What are those?" As such, I've started giving PrepSchool a wide berth. Stitch simply doesn't need to be exposed to such nastiness, especially when I'm touting the benefits of doing this the "right" way. PrepSchool is stuck on thinking "right" means "not falling in the attempt."

PrepSchool's Mom is clearly a source of this shit. She used to skate herself. She took adult classes and often skated with her kid. She doesn't do that anymore. (Worse, I think there's a daughter in this equation somewhere that I don't see anymore. Has she just been passed over on the skating thing? She was pretty good!) On Fridays, she's sipping coffee in the lobby with this stupid grin on her face while PrepSchool flops around. She used to talk to me nicely, but now she struggles to give me a few words. Maybe she thinks we now have nothing in common anymore. On Saturdays, she's either MIA or Sherpa to a yoga mat, an expensive cardio limbular vaulting device, a skate bag and boasting about how long she's been there. (And yes, when parents drone on and on about "OMG I've been here since fiiiiiiiive," I consider that boasting. Shut up and deal.) She's not seeing how PrepSchool looks in relation to the other PreFreestyle kids. If she did, she might rethink Coach Olympia's rush through Dictionopolis. I caught a glimpse of him last Saturday, and he looked sorely out of place; all straight knees, flailing arms and moonboots.

Then again, she might not. She seems pretty enamoured of the idea that her son "didn't need" to bother with three full levels of Basic Skills. It's like someone handed her the keys to the kingdom which she promptly jammed up her ass.

I'm not saying these things to be nasty. (Okay, maybe a little.) I'm pretty sure that if I raised a stink and got all Stage Mommy, I could probably get Stitch in Pre-Freestyle, too. I'm saying these things because it's giving PrepSchool some really ugly notions about the Learn to Skate levels, and that's going to cripple him in the long term. (Wait, maybe I do want that.) What's worse, his Mom and Coach Olympia seem to be encouraging this bullshit attachment to Levels and not Actual Skills.

As much as it pains me to do so, I'm still going to talk to PrepSchool's mom. His Comp is this weekend, and checking the schedule, the Pre-Alphas go on Sunday around 10:35am. I have got to find this kid's last name to check for YouToobe Coverage. Remember, he's "passed" Alpha and should be in Beta with Stitch at the moment. His forward crossovers look okay.**cough**cough** I'm sorry, sand in my throat. Can someone hand me a bag, er, tissue? Coach Olympia provided him with a Costume and even tried to get him some hand-me-down high test skates. They were too big, so he'll be swizzling in his Moonboots.

Am I being paranoid? Oh god no. This is fun. And you better believe PrepSchool himself asked me the "Threat Level" question, "How old is Stitch?" Don't think PrepSchool's mom doesn't nod and smile with that reserved look, sizing me (and Stitch) up. There's not many years between them, so there's a chance that these two will skate against each other someday. Provided, of course, that PrepSchool doesn't break his neck with his crap landing position.

...

OMG PrepSchool TOTES needs to be in FS2 like, RIGHT NAO!! Half Lutz! Half Lutz!! No, no, no.... Bad Skate Mom!

Richie Rich? He's looking like Gizmo in Jacksons these days. Coach Diamond looks as though he'd welcome a mauling by a pack of polar bears careening out the zamboni door if it would save him from being on the ice with this kid. I'm not worried about him.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

And here it is...

"Hey mom?"
"Yeah?"
"I think I do want to do the competition in March."
"Oh yeah?"
"Yeah."
"Good. We can think about new music. I can cut some Black or White for you."
"What part are you going to cut, the black or the white?"

That's my boy.

Second Verse, Same as the First

I would have skipped Practice Ice this morning had Coach not given me a stern look. Personally, I thought we'd beaten this horse into the ground last week and it was time to relax and let it go. But at ten we were in Home Rink, with Ms. Valium in full freakout mode and no ice monitor. Hey, free ice, right?

"Should we just have them change here? Will there be a place to change over there?" she's pacing.
"I'll just change him here, it's easier," I concur. "Let's practice first."

So we toss the Boys onto some largely empty ice, and away they go. Gordon stumbles through it as good as he can without Coach, Stitch works on this three turns and to my horror continues to confuse inside and outside edges. His problem? He overthinks it.

How do I work a Practice Ice through the Aquarium Glass? On most smartphones there is a "Party Sign" app. It's a scrolling marquee sign for your phone. Type in "3 TURNS" or "SPIRAL" or "RUN PROGRAM PLEASE" and you have effective, discreet communication with your small skater. (I would NOT use this during classes or lessons, not unless you want a Coach cramming your phone where you can't answer it.)

Gordon and his mom disappear, their call was an hour before ours. I look at the clock, Stitch has run three solid programs but is now dragging. I call it. Let's just go do this. We head out to the Lobby and I take Stitch to the restroom to change. As he heads out in the Gunther Gabel Williams shirt, you can see the collective loads in the Hockey Dad's pants drop. Stitch doesn't care.

We weren't in the door for three minutes at Rink Across town before Stitch and I had a dusting of glitter. The Swag Bags had glitter on them, the check in table was dusted with glitter, and just about every female skater had glitter hairspray. Stitch's black competition pants? Glittered. My coat? Glittered. I love glitter, but even this was a bit much.

I look for Coach, but being unable to find her, I assume she's busy and we head up into the stands. Stitch begins demanding to put on skates. "When is my warmup? When do I go on the ice? Are you sure it's not now? How do you know? What's my event number? Why don't you know? Go find out! Get a program!" I distracted him with the Swag Bag, (which had awesome swag, USFSA WINS on the swag!)and tried to figure out this dilemma.

While skaters are called by event number, there were no event numbers listed anywhere. Not in the program, not on the grouping sheets, not on the schedule, nowhere. All I knew was that Stitch was in the second group for his level and the warmups were theoretically at 12:15. I put skates on him and was ready to throw him over the boards in the case his name got called and I had gotten screwed up somehow. I saw Gordon on the ice, warming up, and I had some vague notion that his group skated right before Stitch's, so I was pretty sure we were on track.

Skating Moms, let me give you a general rule: If it's a song you've heard on the radio at least five times in the past two days, it's a pretty good idea to skip it when it comes to skating music. We heard Taio Cruz "Dynamite" at least six times. We heard Katy Perry twice. Some song from Mulan about "who is this girl I see" at least three times. There was some other number from Miley Cyrus we heard four times. This was all in an hour and fifteen minutes. I could have made Skating Music Bingo and earned a fortune. Predictable tunes are lame.

Also, costumes. The look of utter heartbreak on an older skater's face as she skated past the pint-sized dynamo who had just gotten finished was agonizing. They were wearing the same pale purple crushed velvet dress. Do something to separate yourself, but don't go nuts. Basic skills skaters typically look kinda silly when weighted down with crystal and spangles. You have to earn the right to wear bling, and sloppy edges look much more sloppy when you've got us all excited by your sparkly outfit. Don't wear what you can't back up. Girl wearing at least five pounds of Swarovski bored the crap out of me by doing lame toepick jumps for a good ten seconds (forever when taken in the context of a 60 second program) then wobbled her crossovers.




Stitch's Group got called down, so we headed to the rink door. I looked out into the lobby, where Coach was being held hostage by the Valiums. The looks on their faces were not pleasant. I waited patiently, and when Coach finally found us she went right for me. "Where were you? I've been looking for you for an hour."
"We've been here," I assured her.
"I had a warmup room, I was going to do stretches but now who knows. You need to come find me."
"I thought you were busy, we were skating as you said. He's fine, he's ready to go."
Stitch bounced, pulled away and went for the ice door.
"Okay, he's ready," Coach didn't seem convinced. Okay, next time, find Coach. Check. She went to go do her thing.

Mr. Valium approached me, stepping way into my comfort zone and grumbled. "Do you know why they grouped the boys and girls together this time?"
"No. Does it matter?" I lied. It does matter. Good Girls are really good, and they take this more seriously. There was a girl up against Stitch, and if she knew her stuff she could blow him out of the water.
"Well, since they put the boys and girls together, now Gordon won't get anything."
"He'll get something," I assured him. But I knew that Gordon was in a flight of five, and only the first three get trophies. Gordon might come away with a ribbon, and for Mr Valium, this was apparently catastrophic.

Mr Valium went away grumbling, and I went back up into the stands. I could hear Coach yelling at Stitch, and Stitch was getting mad. Apparently mad is good, because his spin was really good.

Okay, showtime. The kids filed off, and I heard more Taio Cruz and saw what might have been my first run-in with sandbagging. Basic 5 boy pulled his foot over his head in a spiral and jumped like this was a steeplechase. Thank god he wasn't in Stitch's flight, is all I can say. Stitch's competition, the boy we saw at Practice Ice, went first. He was a bit wobbly, did some weird things with his hands, looked a bit lost at points, but looked good. Again, if Stitch could turn on his Mojo, an easy beat.

Here comes Stitch. He smiled, stroked out in big easy glides, got into position and flipped on his Fancy Skater switch. Arms out, he kicked out lazy crossovers, flipped around, did smooth back crossovers, big bunny hops, and that spin. He's never spun like that. I lost count of the revolutions. He spiral'ed past the judges, big smile, whipped out his three turns and lunged to a finish. He bowed right through the announcement of the next skater, and departed the ice grandly.

Oh god, this might be close. I headed down for a hug, stopping to watch The Girl for a moment. She stumbled on a crossover. I'd seen enough. Coach was pleased. "He really put it together," she conceded.

Stitch was giddy. "Where is my trophy?"

"We have to let them get results up," I said. "Let's wait awhile." Coach and I talked about March, and while Stitch still is ambivalent, I'm going to go for it. His mouth says one thing, but his body language says another. He does spirals while eating Oreos for god's sake. He loves winning trophies, but he doesn't want to work for them. It's a continuing conundrum.

So we went back up to wait. Taio Cruz came on a few more times, and by now we were making up our own lyrics.
"I bang my head against the wall sometimes, singing ohhhh, make it stoooop oh,"
"I throw my skates up in the air sometimes, yelling noooo, not the blaaades, oh,"
"I eat some pizza in the car sometimes, mumbling mmmmrrrrpppffffooo, mmrfbolerrfo,"

Stitch began getting impatient. "Are results up? We should go check for results. Let's go check. NOW." We head back down, and I'm nervous. I look up at the paper and smile. I pick up Stitch. "Read the results."

Stitch mouths the names. "I don't..." he's looking at the judge's marks which at this point mean nothing to me or him.
"What number is to the left of your name?"
"One?"
"Is your name on top?"
"I won first?!"
"Yup. Let's go get that trophy."

He bounces to the awards area, gleefully gives his name and takes his trophy. I'm ambivalent. He's going to lose at some point, what happens then? Oh well, doesn't matter now. I pay for engraving (Why the hell can't this be included, it's four measly bucks?) and Stitch goes to show Rink Pal who is selling flowers.

Coach is pleased, and we're all hungry and sick of hearing Taio Cruz. We watch the Freestyle skaters for awhile, packing up and heading out for some pizza. As we cross the lobby, we dodge skaters doing single jumps amongst the smaller skaters and the Hockey Dads with the misfortune to have a game that day in the small rink, their eyes glassy with confusion. A mom is terribly upset to the point of tears, and some other mother is drilling her seven year old on her "expectations for the day." Yes, time to go.

We're home now, and Stitch is wearing his US Figure Skating headband, writing in his US Figure Skating notebook with his US Figure Skating pencil and stuck the US Figure Skating post it's on his train cars. The Trophy is sitting alongside the first one, and Stitch says he wants more.

We'll do March, and then we'll break for awhile. Let's make the ISI Comp at Home Rink our next goal. Solidify what he's got before moving on. Besides, that was the one that encouraged him to compete in the first place, and he really wants to show his stuff at home.

If I never hear Taio Cruz again, it will be too soon.

Let's Do This

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Final Practice Ice for Realz

Saturday morning, I get up a little late, linger in the shower too long, neglect to hustle Stitch, and before I know it we're on the wire of running late. But Dad had gotten up in the middle of the night and set up my new single cup coffee brewer, so thankfully there was hot and fresh coffee at the push of a button. (Love you, Dad!!) Did I mention it's my birthday? That's okay, I forgot, too. Stitch is slow and grumbly, but I remind him, "Hey, Jeremy Abbott is competing too. He's probably been at the rink for hours by now." Okay, might nto be true but you do what you have to.



We arrive at the rink, Gordon is naturally clonking in skates, the ice is open and Coach is nowhere. That's okay, now she won't know I was barely on time. Gordon's mom, whom I will call Ms. Valium, waves. "It's so early!"

"That's okay. Early is good."

"I don't know if it's good to get the boys up so early."

"Go to bed earlier." Night runs in both directions, sweetcakes.

Coach arrives, tells the boys to get on the ice and goes to the office to get her skates on. Ms. Valium is left standing at the closed office door with puppy eyes. "I don't know, do we...."

"Come on, boys, let's go," I shepherd them into the rink.

Ms. Valium follows. "But Coach isn't..."

"Go stroke around, warm up," I point to the ice. "Go, go. No toe pushes."

"That's HARD," says Stitch.

"Good, do hard things."

Coach has skates on and steps in. "Thank you."

I nod and go outside. Ms. Valium is standing with a guy, whom she introduces as Mr. Valium. Mr. Valium begins lauding Gordon's progress. "Boy, he's really getting smooth. Hard to believe it's come this far! Remember when they did that Funny March Routine? And they slid down on their knees? Boy, I loved Funny March. It's hard to slide down on your knees. They should do Funny March again. Was your daughter in with the tots?" he asks.

I've been tuning him out. "I'm sorry, what?"

"The tots? She was in with them?"

"No, that's my son," I point. "I don't have a daughter."

"Oh, I thought you had a girl."

Ms. Valium chimes in. "No, her son is the one who had the hat at the last competition. Remember?"

"The one who skated a level under Gordon?"

"Yes. At Pre-Alpha."

"Well, that's great. Boy, Gordon is a lot smoother than," and he pauses, glancing at me, suddenly aware of just who that mystery kid is. "Before. Coach says Gordon is really smooth, he's got a lot of polish."

"I'm going to get some coffee,"  I excuse myself to the vending machine.

Wouldn't you know Ms. Valium follows me. She navigates the coffee vending with tenuous hands, obviously new to the concept of "caffiene where you can find it."

We head back and now Mr. Valium and some other dude are talking about ISI versus USFSA. Shit. Mr Valium is dropping the "O" word. "So, USFSA is how you get to the Olympics then? Honey, is Gordon USFSA?"

"Oh, I don't know..." her eyes kind of glaze.

"If you're competing tomorrow, then yes, he is," I speak up. "USFSA is the way to go Olympic, if that's what you're going for. ISI is considered the more fun skating league, but the most challenging tests in figure skating are ISI, not USFSA. Freestyle nine and ten, I believe."

"I suppose we'll have to wait a few years before Gordon gets to that," Mr Valium looks out at the small ice.

"How do you know all this?" Ms. Valium asks. "Do you skate?"

"No, I have internet." And a desire to know about things I'm involved in.

Coach comes out. "Do you have music? We need music."

I get the CD and go into the rink while Coach fetches the CD player. There's a higher level freestyle group coming in, big girls and boys. Gordon is getting that terrified look in his eyes. I help Coach with the CD Player, thankful for the chance to get away from the Valiums, and she runs them through their paces.

Gordon tries his routine, but now the high level freestyle group is tearing around the rink at full speed. Set a stuffed fluffy bunny on a drag strip, and you have Gordon on freestyle ice. I laughed, I couldn't help myself.  Stitch tries his routine, and while he's more confident at dodging the whirlwind of Chloe Noels, it's hard to line up those damn three turns. That's okay, I get the distinct feeling we were brought here as a Security Blanket for Gordon anyway.

The lesson ended, Coach tosses out the boys and grabs her next kid. There's just no time for pleasantries today. The Valiums linger rinkside, waiting for what I don't know, while I take the boys out to the warm lobby. "So, you kids excited about tomorrow?"

"No!" they say.

"What? Why not?"

"Because I'm going to lose," says Stitch.
"I don't want third place," whines Gordon.

"What is going on here? Do you two really believe you're going to lose? How can you lose? Did you lose last time?"

"Last time I got second place," Gordon said.

"Last time I got two firsts."

"Coach says that this time we're gonna get a medal and a prize!" Gordon says to Stitch.

"Look, " I bring them back. "No one is going to lose. You're both going to do fine. Stop worrying, both of you."

The Valiums come back out looking deflated, and Ms. Valium starts talking about some practice ice at Home Rink tomorrow. "But they won't get to skate on the Big Rink at the Rink Across town," she laments. "And Coach can't be here with them. They should..."

"It's all ice. It's all the same size. I'm not worried." Besides. Gordon can't be on practice ice alone anyway. He's six. (HAHAHAhAHAHA!!) We head outside, it's bitter cold, and a dry snow is falling. Stitch stops at the car window, staring intently. I open the passenger door, toss in the skate bag and slam it shut. "Oh!" says Stitch.

"What? You okay?"

"You blew away the snowflakes."

I realize that this is that special kind of snow where every tendril and point of a snowflake can be seen. We paused for a moment, and look at snowflakes. When our fingers were too cold to move well, we came home for a proper breakfast. I made more coffee. I love buttons. Stitch gave me his present, a clay heart with the words, "Love is the key to this world" written in it.

It is what it will be, bitches.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Far Too Serious

I've decided this blog has become too serious in the past couple of days, and nothing positive has been rendered by all this excessive introspection. The best way to handle this is with photoshop, gifs, and stupid image macros.


I think the best way to get more boys involved with Figure Skating is to make it more like Monster Truck Rallies.



Also, stop putting young boys in tight leggings. It's just weird. They look ridiculous and they know it.



I think we need to stop pussyfooting around our secret desires for the competition.

Funny Animated GIFs - Willy Nooooo!
see more Gifs

I found four thick white hairs on my chin this morning. I swear these were not here last week. I believe these are appearing as punishment for resorting to bribery. One hair per bribe. I hereby blame the Zuca manufacturers for causing me to resemble a nanny goat.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The (sort of) Final Practice Ice

Yesterday afternoon I stood in ankle deep slush and watched a toddler in rubber boots stomp and soak her flannel pajama bottoms. Her mom stood a good twenty feet away and talked into her iPhone. Five minutes and soaked up to the knees later, children began oozing out of the school doors.

Stitch came bolting out to my spot under the pines where he designated I must wait, and tackled me with a hug.

"How was school?"
"Good," he replied nebulously. "Where did you park?"
"Oz. I need to find your teacher." I wanted to speak with her about the tumultuous battle homework has become.
Stitch seemed to know what this was about and hung his head.

Teacher and I spoke briefly, and she told me that Stitch had been "distracted" (ie, not paying attention) during Math. She asked me what I might do, and I replied I was about to ask her the same question. She didn't have any good answer, so I said I'd speak with Stitch about attentiveness.

I spoke to Stitch in the car, reinforced that when Adults are speaking, he needs to pay attention. He said he just wasn't in the mood for math that day. "Too bad," I say. "Mood or not, you do what your intructors tell you." Another fight. I'm really getting tired of fighting.

We headed to the rink. Gordon's mom waved at me, Gordon already clonking around in skates. I put Stitch in his costume, just to give a last check of fit and comfort on the ice. Surprisingly, the costume seemed to lift his spirits. He strutted out and went for his skates.

Gordon's mom was now anxiously pacing by the ice door. "Coach isn't here yet," she said. Gordon was on the ice, wearing leggings that she had just pulled the tags off of. Have I mentioned that little boys look ridiculous in leggings? Pants, please.

"She'll be along. I know she comes right from Rink Across Town. Just let them stroke around for awhile." Stitch and Gordon were doing just that, following the flow of traffic like good boys.

And of course, Coach arrived brandishing the schedules which had been emailed the day prior. Gordon's mom grabbed it and began fretting. I waved it off. "Got it. Eleven. We'll be there."

I headed up into the stands, watched Gordon's mom as she kept up her nervous pacing. She was driving me nuts, so I invited her up to sit and relax and enjoy the slight warmth afforded by the elevation.

She sat, but she didn't relax. Her hands worked the clothing tags from Gordon's dancewear into tatters. "I hope he does well," she sighed.

"Of course he will. They both will."

"Oh, no. Stitch is so much better. He's much more relaxed."

I gave her a sidelong glance, curious about that line.

They did their routines a few times, no falls, taking breaks to go work on individual elements every so often. Gordon's mom chattered away. "I think Gordon would do well in ice dance, because ice dance is good for skaters who don't jump well. If they can't get the Axel, you know. I've already had several girls approach us, saying to call when he gets to freestyle."

"The footwork seems more challenging than the jumping," I said, my eyes never leaving Stitch.

He ran his program, came ice right for his three turns, hit his lunge, and as he looked up he looked right for me. I smiled at him, "good job!" He smiled back. I felt reassured. Gordon ran his program, stumbled his crossovers and balked on his spin. I could feel his mom wince. "I'm so nervous for him."

"It's just a little competition. Not the end of the world," I really wished I hadn't invited her up here.

Coach slid up behind Stitch, took his arms up and practically pressed her knee to his back in an effort to get him lower yet keep his chest and head high. I cringed.

Gordon's mom kept talking, yammering on about how nervous she was and Gordon couldn't spin and she didn't understand why. "All those other kids make it look so easy, why can't Gordon get it? Stitch can spin really well, maybe he can give Gordon tips!"

"How often does Gordon skate?"

"Oh, I don't know, he does so many other things. He does swimming and dance, gymnastics, basketball and *insert ethnicity* school, in the summer he does tennis. I can't keep track anymore."

My head rattled off an answer of "Pick one. If you're going to compete, pick this one." But instead I gave her the public ice schedule, rattled off from memory.

She wrung her hands anxiously as Gordon tried a two foot spin, fell, and sat. "He has to get around three times, was that three?"

"That was two. He's almost there." I was trying to be encouraging, but Gordon looked as small and lost out there as a goldfish in the Atlantic. Three times around for it to count, and Gordon was barely making a slow two. "It'll be okay," I said finally.

Gordon finally got up and completed his program, but he had to be yelled at to do so. "It'll be okay," I repeated to myself.

At that point Coach called the boys down to the Zamboni door where they worked on three turns for awhile, crossovers and then Waltz Jumps. Gordon's mom tightened her lip. "Why aren't they working on the program? She should be doing the program."

"If she beats it into the ground, it'll do more harm than good. Let them do something else for awhile."

"I guess you're right."

"At this point, it's just about as good as it's going to get. Just relax. It is what it will be."

"Of course you're calm, Stitch can skate. He's so good."

Gordon's mom didn't hear Coach bemoan Stitch's crossovers and three turns to me on Sunday. She also didn't hear her play up Gordon like he was a much more serious skater. I was starting to think that was a bullshit line as Gordon, without a word to Coach, left the ice to complain of cold hands.

"Moooommmm," he whined, looking up at us with a pitiful expression. "My fingers are cold."

She coaxed him back onto the ice with a jacket and the ubiquitous "two more minutes" that parents extend and contract to suit their purposes. "Look at me, trying to compete with you on costumes. I bought him that top at the dance store."

"It looks nice, but he should be in a jacket. It's cold out there." Gordon's shirt was lightweight, great for dance, not so much for skating. Sigh.

Five minutes later, Gordon left the ice again, without a word to Coach who just looked after him and didn't chase him. She was busy forcing Stitch down into low lunges again. He just walked right off and out the door and into the lobby. "Where is he going?" Gordon's mom asked to no one in particular.

"You going to go get him?"
"No, he probably just wants to warm up."

There was an awkward silence between us as Gordon's mom realized I found both his action and her inaction unpardonable, but now she was committed to it so she sat there. Fortunately, Gordon came back. He looked up and whined some more, and Mom plied the "two more minutes" again.

When the ice monitor called for everyone to clear off, she rushed down to grab Gordon and yammer at Coach. Me? I was bemused. Stitch looks good. Real good, and I think we've been doing him a terrible disservice insinuating otherwise. I sauntered down, and patted Stitch on the head. "Good work out there, that was some serious fancy skating."

He smiled.

"Do you feel better about this now?"
"Sort of."
"I think you'll do well. Don't worry about it anymore."

Gordon's mom was fretting over the schedule, and if she could get in just one more practice, but the Saturday that Coach had available was just too early, wasn't there something later in the day? And where was the CD, did we get the CD? What about Sunday, is there ice on Sunday? On and on she went, round and round.

Coach was being much more patient than I could ever be, and I just followed the boys out to help them with skates. Gordon went right for a hand held video game and Stitch emptied the ice chunks dislodged by the lutzes out of his pockets. Coach came out, Gordon's mom following like a puppy and still fretting over moot points, running herself in circles with worry. God, just let it go already.

Coach looked at the boys; Gordon absorbed in his stupid game and Stitch sorting his ice chunks. "If you fall you have to get back up," she said pointedly. "No one will be around to help you, and the music keeps playing. Get up and keep skating."

"Stitch, you're being spoken to," I chided.

Stitch looked up at Coach dutifully. Gordon played on.

Once Coach got done with pointers for the boys, Gordon's mom began her nervous tirade again. You'd think they were coordinating Cancer Cures on Sunday. I took off Stitch's skates, handed him his Real Boy clothes and got sucked into the conversation. I told Coach I'd speak with Stitch about practice.

That night, Stitch did his homework and then we played Scrabble. Go figure that on the first draw I could have played "menthol," but I didn't think I could have convinced Stitch that was a real word. I let him go first.

Despite my words to Teacher and Coach that I'd "speak with him," we didn't talk about skating or school. We just played Scrabble. Stitch played "false" and "die", and I coached him into "runt." I just let everything go for the night.

I tucked him in with his MP3 player. "You did real good today. Don't tell yourself any different, and don't let anyone else tell you either."

Tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Considering the Tiger Mother

I have the day off. My only real goals are to sew a pair of practice pants, finish the jacket, and get to skating practice this afternoon. Beyond that, nuts.

I've been following the saga of the Tiger Mother, Amy Chua, on various blogs. Everyone seems to claim she is backpedaling now. Well, she'd have to. She's getting death threats. Yes, Death Threats. People are threatening to kill this woman because they disagree with her parenting philosophy. Doubtless, Amy is one that I'd consider an Extreme (Xtreme?) Alpha Mom. But there's one thing Amy says that has stuck with me;  "People are mad because I was being honest,"

In that regard, Amy is dead right.

No self-respecting parent is going to sit and honestly admit that they have to fight their kids in an effort to instill common sense life skills. And yet, shelves are lined with books on parenting. How exactly do we go about this?

Left to his own devices, Stitch will sit like a slug on our sofa and play vidya games until his brains dribbled out his ear. He'll be mouthy, obstinate, whiny, and he's pretty good at finding buttons on people. Then he pushes them. How much flak would I catch if people knew the truth about the days I confiscate the Vidya games, the Battle of the Chapter Books wherein I've made Stitch cry, the night I made him do his homework three times until it was up to par (tears for bonus points), the incident where he got a time out smack in the middle of a museum (ignoring crocodile tears in public gets you a level up) , and the ongoing War of the Penmanship, battles fought weekly with eraser and pencil sharpener. Ugly Truth #1 is, kids can be awful.

Ugly Truth #2 is; Kids are usually awful because of Mom and Dad.



When my younger colleagues start talking about the "someday" when they're "ready" to have kids, they usually turn to me. I tell them that they'll never be ready, and that nothing on Earth will make you examine the roots of yourself more than having kids.

This is, I believe, the root of the Death Threats surrounding Ms. Chua. She told the truth, and her truth was so jarring to the Wishy-Washy parents of Gilded Suburbia that they responded in true knee-jerk form. When I read her strict tactics, I too responded with a dropped jaw. The thing about Knee-Jerk reactions is that they don't come from a vacuum. Something within yourself has become unsettled by the conflicting viewpoint, and that's a moment to try and find out why. What is it that you're unsure of, that a book or internet article can unsettle it?

Me? I've had a lot of anxiety lately about the Pushing. I feel that I'm doing the right thing, but I don't want to be That Mom. I'm not comfortable with that yet. I do it with the Academics and Behavior, but I'm not there yet when it comes to Sports. Perhaps I need to just embrace it. Ms. Chua did, and while I would never call Stitch names or deny him bathroom breaks, I think there's a lot of room for a Middle Way. (HA!) I've been given a kid who has a buttload of talent when it comes to Skating, and an intense desire to perform, but doesn't have the self-discipline or self-confidence to see it through.

Hey, there are worse things to be than a Pushy Mom.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Conspiring with Coach

Stitch was dancing again at Public Skate today. Just out there, rocking in his own little world. Hopping, skipping, crossovering, having fun. I like watching, and apparently he looks for my thumbs-up approval.

Coach was there, with her Sunday students, and it's hard not to notice him. She came over to us at resurface, and the look on her face was ambivalent. "He's wild," she says. "The more he skates on his own, the more out of control he gets. I try to put him in position, but he doesn't like that."

"It's got to be his idea," I say. "It's the same with schoolwork and anything else. If he doesn't want to do it, good luck." I told her about my plan with recognition pins, and even she said, "if he'll buy it."

You can't say I don't try. So I watched some more dancing, and thought. How can I get him to understand that Figure Skating isn't going out there and just going nuts?

One: Keep him Competing. And before I get any howls of indignation from overly permissive parents out there, let me explain: Stitch loves an audience. He demands an audience. I have a distinct feeling that despite all the agony leading up to next Sunday, Stitch will gladly perform for his captive audience, and want another. Further, the work involved just reinforces that there is work that goes with this. Period. End of Story. Until there is a division of the sport for Improvisational Dance Skating, Stitch is out of luck.

Two: Let him in on a Secret, and remove my involvement. Stitch was dragging his old backpack on wheels down the stairs. "This is why I need a Zuca!" he says.
"Oh? Why?"
"Because there's two wheels. That would make it easier to go down the stairs!"
I see my window. "You want a Zuca, huh?"
"Yes!"
"Well, let me tell you something. I was planning on buying you a Zuca once you hit Freestyle. That was going to be a surprise."
He gets wide-eyed excited. "When is that?"
"You'd have to get through Gamma and Delta. So, maybe in the late fall."
"OH!" he whines.
"But listen. I'm willing to change my plan. I will be happy to get you a Zuca when you start skating correctly."
And now it was like fate. Coach comes out of the rink. I call her over. "I was just telling Stitch that my original Secret Plan was to get him a Zuca bag once he hit Freestyle," I explain.
She agrees that this is a fine idea.
"But I'm willing to get it sooner if he starts skating correctly, and for that I need you to tell me when that is."
"In that case," she says. "You could have it much sooner."
Stitch seems intrigued. "Really?"
"Yes," says Coach. "Follow instruction."
"So, Stitch, this is your ticket to your Zuca," I point to Coach. "Coach will tell me when to get it. But not before."

Stitch sets his lip. This is typically a good sign. Coach gives me some paperwork for March, and says he should change music. I agree. On the way home, I convince Stitch that a March competition is a good idea with some jazzier music and that Coach will let him add some of his own movements to the current routine. He says yes.

We came home, and I had Stitch look at the Zuca catalog to see which one he liked. I should have known.





This is the one called "Caution." It looks like a traffic cone.

I'll be spending my week doing subliminal messaging, and cutting some Stray Cats.

It's on.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Been a Long, Long Day

And it's not over yet.

Last night, Stitch fell hard on his rear. He was attempting inside and outside edges, seeing how far he could go on one foot, and his blade went right out from under him. He limped home, asked for a wheelchair, then crutches, then gave up and resorted to looking pitiful. I checked him over, he appeared fine, so I told him Practice Ice was on for the following morning. I partially blame myself, I knew his skates were getting really dull. Too dull to perform the wacky moves that Stitch tries.

This morning, he was up with no more fuss than usual. We headed over to the rink, got on the ice, he did his best, but on the lunge attempts, his pain was evident. I have to give him so much credit for trying. He was clearly hurting, he told me that everything hurt. Crossovers, stroking, spirals, all of it. I encouraged him to work through the pain; sometimes it hurts but he can still try. I was ready to call it early if we had to. With a little help from the French Vanilla Cappucino machine in the lobby, Stitch made it to forty five minutes. The ice was crowded, lots of music, lots of kids getting ready to compete, and I think we saw Stitch's competition; an eight year old boy who is going to be pretty stiff to beat. He's got the moves, but Stitch has him licked when it comes to Mojo. Hopefully Stitch will turn it on.

That being done, we got breakfast and went to Home Rink for The Test. At 10:45, Mysteria was nowhere. !0:50, nowhere. I sighed, and went to the desk. "Where is Mysteria? Is she here?" So she comes to the counter, I introduce myself, again, and she says she will be right out to do the test. 11:00, with Stitch tired of being kept on edge, she arrives. Stitch does his stroking and some pretty crossovers, and Mysteria makes a big deal out of telling him to work on his toe pushes, but she gives him the Patch. "I'll talk to Coach about that as well," she sighs. I have news for you, lady, every kid in his Beta Class toe pushes a lot worse.

So, Stitch grabbed his patch, never let it go, and ran to Prepschool to eagerly show him. "Alpha?" says Prepschool. "I skipped Beta, Gamma and Delta."
"So, what are you now?" I ask warily.
"Pre-Freestyle."

What. The. Fuck.

Okay, I'm starting to feel woozy, so I let that go. I try to forget the knowledge that Prepschool's upcoming competition will be skated at the Pre-Alpha level. I just walked away.

I ran into a Rink Friend I met while doing Ice Show. "Hey," she calls me over. She frequently is an ice monitor on weekdays, so right now she's seen more of Stitch's skating than me. "Your son is doing really well!"
"Really? I don't know, he's doing practice when I'm at work lately."
"Yes, he's looking really good. Really good."
"Great. I need to get his skates sharpened, hoping to do that after class."
"Oh," her face falls. "Did you make an appointment?"
No. I forgot. Crap. I excuse myself to call The Skate Place, and I'm told "We'll do our best," but it's not looking good.
I let that go for now, and consider alternatives. This can't be the only game in town to sharpen skates.

Stitch and I head into the Big Rink, and I get the chills. (My coworker had the flu recently, so I'm fearing the worst.) His class starts and I just sit and seethe; I'm feeling sicker, my throat hurts, my head hurts, my shoulders ache, and I'm really dreading the prospect of the next few days down.

Here comes Nutso. Nutso never seeks me out unless she's looking for information or wanting to brag about shit. Today she's bragging about shit. She's talking about Shuffles, who is looking patently ridiculous in what appears to be a pair of girls' leggings and figure skates that make his feet look too big for his body. I'm trying to focus on him, but my head hurts. Then she starts looking for information.  "Where did you get Stitch's skating pants? Those look really sharp."
"I made them."
"Oh, wow. You are so talented."
My salesman self goes into autopilot before I can shut her up. "I can make some for you, too. $45 with an elastic waist like those."
"Oh. I might take you up on that." Nutso's tone indicates that she's waffling on price.

I'm really tempted to tell her that I'm perfectly aware of the price tag on Precious' new Chloe Noel pants, and I'm a lot cheaper. I don't, because two things agitate my angina; being cold and being stressed. I'm already cold, and listening to Nutso blather on about how her kids are still "getting used to" their figure skates and how the toepicks are too big and Chloe Noel, plus the knowledge that PrepSchool went from Alpha to Pre-Freestyle overnight is creating such a ball of agony in my chest, I really can't speak.

"Is Stitch doing the competition next weekend?" she asks.
"Uh. Yes."
"When does he skate?"
"I don't know. They haven't posted the schedule."
"What level is he skating at?"
"Um," I realize this is going to piss her off. "Coach put him at Basic Six."
"Six?" she pauses. "Where would that be here?"
I understand what she's asking; she wants me to translate USFSA levels into ISI terms. That's hard. "Uh, well, USFSA and ISI are really different, but if I had to peg it, I'd say Delta. Stitch is doing mostly Delta moves, lunge, bunny hop, one foot spin and spiral."
She's irked. Thank god Shuffles had some issue, probably humiliation from being in leggings when he can barely hold himself up, and Nutso had to suddenly leave.

Looking for a grounding point, something I can solve, I go back to the dilemma of the Skates. Stitch can't compete on dull blades, and he can't compete on newly sharpened blades. We need the happy medium, so ideally the skates have got to happen today or tomorrow so he can get some solid hours on them. I remember a place not far, back from when I was still shopping for skates. I look them up and call. (God bless mobile internets.) I'm told to come right in.

We stop at home to change clothes, then go to Other Skate Place. They sharpen Stitch's skates in ten minutes. We then go off to get Stitch a haircut; his hair has been flying in his face on spins. Some other minor errands, and I'm finally home.

For now.

Late Skate starts in awhile. I've had some tea, I'm feeling a little better, Stitch claims he isn't tired, so we're on. But I swear, the rink today was a nightmare of illness coupled with bad information and little girls doing "Zuca racing," pushing themselves around on the stupid Zuca bags, reviewing and grading other girl's unattended Zucas as the rode by. Crap like that really makes me reconsider my notion of getting Stitch a Zuca when he gets to Freestyle. (Yes, he wants one.)

Stitch is saying he isn't liking all the work that is going into this Competition, and he's saying he doesn't want to do the one in March. I can understand. He's been working super hard, and he still doubts his three-turns. He got a lot thrown at him, and in this respect it isn't like last time. Last time was a cakewalk, and this is his first real challenge. I'm going to watch closely over the next few days, and see what happens on Sunday. Again, I'm considering all of this as a Really Big Experiment. I don't want Stitch to compete if he doesn't want to, but I don't want him to quit for the wrong reasons. Not liking hard work isn't a good reason for me. Stitch says he wants to skate for an audience, but only if he can make it up as he goes. He's still not getting that Skating Programs have a lot of work behind them.

Couple that with Coach's words today, that she would always find time to work with Stitch, and my Parenting Dilemma is deep. Answers won't come easy. How can I teach a small boy to love hard work?

Friday, January 14, 2011

If Skate Parents had Levels

This is what I would imagine them to be:

Pre-Alpha:
Beginning Glove Organization (all match)
Basic Skate Tying (Top Lace Hooks Only)
Cold Butt
Class Schedule Comprehension
Beginning Forced Conversation (polite, cheerful, may not include snark)

Alpha:
Beginning Portable Breakfast (liquids, packaged snacks)
Public Ice Schedule Comprehension
Cold Feet (not your own)
Beginning Whine Intervention

Beta:
Advanced Glove Organization (skater now likes differently colored gloves in precise pairings)
Beginning Skate Blade Maintenance
Practice Ice Schedule Comprehension
Beginning Coaching Relationship
Forward Direct Snark on a Straight Line

Gamma:
Advanced Portable Breakfast (Eggs, bacon, oatmeal, organic)
Beginning Costuming (basic sewing patterns, no embellishment)
Intermediate Coaching Relationship
Whine Intervention with change of tone and argument
Intermediate Skate Tying ("up through the foot" and lace hooks)

Delta:
Beginning Verbal Tussle with Skating Director (must have valid issue)
Intermediate Costuming (Basic embellishment, difficult fabrics)
Intermediate Skate Blade Maintenance
Intermediate Forced Conversation (may include a degree of snark, but isn't required.)

Anyone know what the Freestyle Levels might include? Anything I missed or not where it should be?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Why I am a Firm Believer in Standards

I've been mulling over the whole "Standards" issue and how it relates to Pre-Freestyle Skaters. I've been watching and making the casual observation that PreStyle skaters don't get taken very seriously at Home Rink. (Which is odd, because, where do they think Freestyle skaters come from? The sky?)

If getting the Level Patch involves a Formal Test and a Formal Process that is separate from the regular old Group Class test, then that is a clear indication that the Group Class test is not held to Standard. I can hear the chorus now; "Who cares? It's just one foot glides, good is as good enough!"

Wrong! Good Enough Excuses build weak foundational skills, and that cripples the child in the long run.

History lesson: I was a Girl Scout. I took swimming lessons from the time I was eight until I was sixteen. I'm a passable swimmer; I was obviously never going to win any swim meets but I won't drown. I did the basic Polliwog through Fish Group Classes at the Y. There came a year when I wanted to do a Summer Canoeing camp; two weeks prep and four days on the open water in the Chesapeake Bay. Beautiful! The Camp sent a letter back, indicating that my swimming had to pass a certain level before I could be allowed to take it. This makes sense, I had to be of a certain caliber to stand up to the tides and flows of a Big Bay. No Problem, I thought. Fix my breaststroke, learn basic Butterfly, and off I go!

How wrong I was.

I got told by the Y that my Group Classes actually were just "good enough" passing marks, and not actually up to the Standards held by the Girl Scouts. My breaststroke didn't need fixing, it needed a complete overhaul. I spent February to April in the pool with a nasty swimming coach, who jerked my legs out of their sloppy overkick and spent a lot of time sighing at the Herculean task ahead of her. I worked my ass off. I was thirteen. Eventually, it got fixed, but just in the nick of time. The paperwork indicating "pass" had the postdate of the deadline on it. I nearly missed the Camping trip of a lifetime, which I still hold dear memories of. (Ah, the night we roasted wild-caught blue crab, and stinging nettles rising to the surface of the water... magic.)

The point is, me and my mom got lied to for years. When it counted, when the test results really mattered, I had to make up the difference with my own kahunas or quit.

I can see that Skating has a lot of foundational skills here in the PreStyle Levels, and these foundations need to be taken every bit as seriously as a jump. To blow them off now, to let them slide, means that kids will get to their highest level on incompetence, hit a wall, blame themselves and quit. That's bullshit, all of it, but especially the "blame themselves" part.

So, Skating Universe, like it or not, I'm going to be in the stands with your own curricula. I'm not going to let this stuff slide, because I try to not repeat mistakes. Standards matter. The day I came face to face with a series of rapids on the Upper James with a lot of boils and a big fat standing wave that upended our canoe, I was glad I had that nasty swimming coach. While Skating Standards may not save a child's life, they may help preserve their spirit.

(Edit: I remembered later that it wasn't the Scouts' swimming standards, it was the Red Cross Standards. Which has made me think about getting myself recertified in First Aid/CPR.)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Little Kids, Big Goals and Stupid Adults

The other Skating Blogs I read have a lot to say about Goals. How to set them, how to go for them, what to do when you achieve them, and so on. Apparently this is a big topic, as Skaters need clear and stated Goals. I can get that. I think that's important.

However, all that is written by, for and about the Teenage Girl set. This doesn't help me, the mother of a School Age Boy. I thought about this forever. How do I help a little kid set goals? What is a good goal for a beginning skater? How can I teach the value of practice, effort? What distinguishes a Reward from a Bribe? How can I instill positive, forward thinking towards largely non-tangible ends? How can I make "Best Effort" a goal and not "Winning"? What is going to make all these bruises, early mornings, cold feet and snarky kids worth it?

My puzzler just about broke, I had a massive headache, and then I realized; Stitch already set a goal, and he did it himself. He set a goal before he even started Pre-Alpha. All the ISI Level Patches.

These little gems are perfect, tangible, highly visible signs of progress easily understood by a young mind. Because I got frustrated with the needlessly stupid process of actually getting the damn Patch, I instead focused on Competition. Well, Stitch likes competing, but as that's not his goal, Stitch has been getting lost.

Well, not anymore. Last night I informed him of the "Special Test" on Saturday to get his Pre and Alpha Patch, and please let me know where on his jacket he wanted them. He got excited. I said that USFS also offers patches, so he decided that USFS should go on the front, and ISI on the back. I'll talk to Coach about the Basic Skills patches when I see her next. (And may god help Mysteria if she doesn't deliver.)

So, Bad Skate Mom. No cookie for me today. I was needlessly muddying the issue with competitions, practice ice, lessons, ice show and other stuff that just serves the Goal. I was confusing the finger with the moon again.

Leave it to a bunch of adults to overcomplicate shit.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Johnny Weir is here!!

No, not the Johnny Weir. Johnny Weir is the name I've given my new sewing machine.



It's here, and I'm so excited to get it home and give it a whirl! (It has a darning foot, and a zipper foot, and a drop in bobbin, and a self threading needle, and a this, and a that, and this cool other thing...)

All joking aside, I have a lot of admiration for Johnny Weir. That guy can skate, and anyone who owns himself the way Johnny does has my utmost respect. So, Johnny, if I didn't tease you it means I don't like you very much. Please don't be offended by the fact I named my sewing machine after you.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

WTF is this?

Apparently Boys like Black and Flames. http://fuzzysoakers.com/site/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=18&products_id=135 These Soakers look like a poodle in mid-seizure, yet this is the only listing in "Boys favorites" on this website. I showed these to Stitch.

"Look at these Soakers."
 He made a face.
 "Would you want a pair of these?"
He shook his head "no" so fast he nearly lost his Oreo. 

Dear Figure Skating; Please stop treating boys as color impaired girls. Thank you.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Once more, with feeling

So, all respectful disagreements aside, skating goes on. Stitch and I were up with the dawn, on our way out the door for clean, soft ice and an hour of solid practice.

Well, almost an hour. Negating break times and a bad fall, it amounted more to forty five minutes. In all, a success. Backwards stroking continues to improve, three turns look good, those one foot spins are coming easier, and Stitch just needs to learn that the point of spinning is not to make yourself dizzy.  There were a few more souls on the ice today, young coaches and little girls preparing little programs for the looming competition. I got some dirty looks from the young female coaches, but I didn't really care.


We headed home for a few minutes to rest, then back out for Group Lessons. Stitch got eager once he saw the ice, chomping at the bit to go out and do something. I warmed his skates, laced them up, and off he went. He was bunny hopping and jogging, much to the consternation of the Pre-Alphas still struggling.

I love listening to the parents, really. The Pre-Alpha Parental Squad was face-mashed to the glass as though this were an aquarium. They haven't learned that the kids can't hear you, so there was a lot of yelling right up at the glass, at eye level of the kid being yelled at. Kids, in turn, paid more attention to their screaming parents than the lesson at hand. I think some Coaches were about to hurl a few mittens and epithets at the offending parties. A mom behind me was griping that her daughters had "forgotten everything they learned" last time. Never mind that last time was two weeks ago and it didn't seem like they'd been to Public at all.

I just watched Stitch. Our sign language has devolved to just a "thumbs up" for doing good and an "OK" sign for a fall. (The OK sign must be returned to indicate OKness.) He was doing good, his interim coach having a bit of a time getting him to slow down and actually do the maneuver correctly. But his back crossovers are steadily smoothing out. I'm pleased. The Betas are kept far from the Parental Peanut Gallery, perhaps an indication of the decreased level of parental involvement required.

Afterwards, a mom came up to me and asked, "Is he yours?" pointing to Stitch.

"Yes."
"He's really good! How long has he been skating?"
"Uh, since March."
"Oh my goodness! Just that long? He looks like he's been skating for years!"
"Well, he skates a lot... " I try to go into the hours involved.
"You might have a champion on your hands!"
"No, you see, he skates about six hours...."

But she was off and gone. Ah well.

Tonight the In-Laws are visiting, so I banished Stitch to his room for some much-needed rest. They're going to want to skate tonight.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Pre-Freestyle Hell

I've managed to keep a cheery face and a positive mantra through the past ten months. I've made it through Pre-Alpha 1 and 2, Alpha 2 (he skipped 1), now we're in Beta.  With Back Crossovers nearly mastered, the homestretch of Gamma and Delta is on the horizon. Stitch just might make it through these Pre-Freestyle Levels with his love of the ice intact.

Rink People, let me tell you something: We're in the minority, and this isn't happening without a concerted and driven effort on the part of me, Evil Skate Mom.

I may have initiated a bone of contention on another blog, but honestly I couldn't keep my mouth shut. After ten months of feeling dismissed, frowned upon and merely tolerated, it just finally got spelled out for me; No one really cares about your Pre-Freestyle Skater.

I'm at the PTA meetings. I'm at the school fundraisers. I'm at the Fun Fairs. I'm out talking to other moms, and I can tell you that a ton of mothers quit the skating program in the Pre and Alpha Levels. I can see why. There is no support out here. I have had Coach L twice, and I have never spoken to her. The only reason I met other Coaches at all was because I marched up and inserted myself. I know names largely from a picture in the lobby. No one will freely inform Pre-Freestyle skaters of the Practice Ice available to them. No one encouraged Stitch to be at Public Skate to practice. There is no mention of ISI anywhere at Home Rink; no posters, no curriculum, no competition schedules or pictures, nothing.When I asked for a Level Patch, I got a two page email about "Standards" and special testing and three dollars. Competitions were a complete mystery until I brought it up, and other mothers are feeling the same way.  Remember what Rockstar's Mother said to me? "Sometimes I get the feeling we aren't wanted here." That's a running theme amongst the quitters. I didn't see Rockstar and her mom at the last group lesson session.

A heartbreaking conversation with another mother was the story of how her little girl didn't pass Pre-Alpha 1, twice, and the coaches never spoke to the mother at all about why it was happening or how to pass. This little girl looks at skates and she looks like a puppy at the pound, but the mother simply didn't want to "waste money" or deal with the general attitude.

Want to generate interest in the Skating Program? Support the skaters that are already there. They will be the ones running around to all their friends about how fun it is, that is your single best advertisement and it doesn't cost a penny. Got a skater competing? Mention and post it on that massively empty board in the lobby! You know mom has pictures she would love to share! Skaters passing levels? Post it on that empty board! Kids adore seeing their name where everyone can see! How about we make those level patches Standard Issue? Little kids love, love, love patches!! Talk to the pre-freestyle skating mothers, convince them that not everyone in the skating universe stuck up and rude. They are paying the bills, and they are the ones you need to keep coming back. Are some of them awful? Yes! But so is getting up at 5am on a Saturday! If rinks are going to view skaters and their Evil Moms as customers, then they need to remember that most departing customers leave quietly and will never tell you why.

I have lots to say on this subject. LOTS. Especially now that I go to Rink Across Town and I have a comparison point. But as Stitch isn't "Freestyle," my voice seems muted. How much will be listened to, and how much will be dismissed as Crazy Skate Mom?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

"He'll be in the Olympics!"

On the flip side of the coin from people who assume I'm the meanest Stage Mom Evar, there are those who bring up the inevitable. Over the holidays, I hear from a lot of people I don't ordinarily talk to very often. They ask me about Stitch, and I just casually drop that Stitch is figure skating and loving it. As such, a common response theme is the Olympics. In fact, I can't think of a single person with whom I have talked about the skating thing who hasn't failed to drop in the "O" word.

Let's make one thing perfectly clear: Olympics is not on my list of goals. Not. At. All.

Why not? Because it's not fair to Stitch to (1) make him believe that if he isn't wanting to be in the Olympics then he doesn't have any goals at all, (2) put that kind of pressure on a kid who is still working through Three Turns and other Basic Moves, and (3) Really? And yes, all your little niggly comments and sly implications are pressure. Stitch hears you, loud and clear. Kids are a lot smarter than most people take them for.

Put yourself in Stitch's shoes for a moment: You're seven. Life is confusing. Everyone just bosses you around. Why does your room have to be clean and why does the bed have to be made? Why put the toys away when you're just going to play with them again? School is boring, but you have to go there every day and then you have to bring some of that stupid work home with you. Skating is really fun, but all these adults are around telling you to "do this" and "do that" and "do this really hard thing, and then that hard thing, and then jump. But I can't jump because that's scary. You do it." What the hell. Except for Coach, and she looks like she could do that jump and make a sandwich at the same time. It's not that you don't like to jump, but there's some really great ice cream at the concession stand that's a lot more appealing than the possibility of being sprawled on your butt in front of that cute girl you have a crush on. (I won't give away Stitch's secrets.) Then someone comes along and says something about this really big competition where the Big League skaters do quads. Quads? Who is doing quads? You can't hold a landing on a waltz jump for longer than three seconds. Where is the ice cream? Three dollars, please?

People, I know you mean well. I know you're just looking for some way to relate, and unfortunately the only thing you can come up with is the Olympics. However, please know that talking about the Olympics when the kid in question is in Beta is insane. It's like saying he's going to have a contract with Marvel because he's drawing stick figures in art class. SRSLY.

Here's a good reply to me when I tell you that Stitch is loving skating and enjoying competing; "That's very nice! He sounds like he is enjoying himself and learning a lot." That is a perfect, no-pressure, sane response. And yes, I have hours of video and gobs of pictures. Please have a seat.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sweetest Skate EVAR

Stitch was momentarily distressed when Coach called him in for a few minutes of mini-lesson, but I assured him that 1) I didn't know that would happen, 2) that he should be honored by a Coach that gives him free lessons and 3)I'd speak to her about our agreements off the ice. (I caught her after Public skate and told her why Stitch was so angry. Coach rolled her eyes at the notion of a "play day," but agreed to honor them anyway.) Then Darling showed up and all distress was forgotten.

We met Darling over the summer. She's Stitch's age, about the same skating level, instructed by her dad, and just one of the most adorable girls ever. Shirley Temple in marabou Riedells couldn't out-cute this girl. She and Stitch really hit it off, and they pal'ed around the rink from June to August. Once fall came, she went back to her Dad in some other state, with promises to return every so often. Today was Stitch's lucky day. Darling was back.

Darling and Stitch raced around, harassed the Guards, hit the concession stand for candy and ice cream, and went to center where she, Stitch and PrepSchool jumped and cavorted and spun in cute games of daring and skill. PrepSchool, who lately has a stack of "practice cards" of some sort (which just wasn't going to happen on a crowded day like today) left to go try and get some work done. Stitch then coaxed Darling to join him in his "interpretive dance," as Hockey Pal likes to call it. They danced for a half hour, but in my mind I was watching something better than Meryl and Charlie.

I was sitting in the stands, watching and thinking, "My god, I could dress them as Dorothy and Scarecrow, put on 'We're off the see the Wizard,' and they wouldn't even have to skate. The judges would just hand them the damn trophy." This is just further proof that I am not in charge of the skating. Stitch would never allow this, and Darling would just give me a look. 

Oh well. In other news, the entire Nutso clan has traded in their moonboots for real Figger' Skates. "Wants to play Hockey," my ass. 

Forcing the Issue

I was reading Xan's post on two year olds and skating and thinking "Why would anyone do that?" and "Why the hell didn't I think of that, he'd be doing Axels by now. Shit, now we're behind." All skating mom conflicting emotions aside, I got to the point of "don't skate with a reluctant skater." It was "don't force them to skate."

Last night I was putting Stitch to bed, and like a good mom I informed him of the schedule for the next few days. "Tomorrow is shopping day and free skating. I won't bug you. Monday is school, and I think the babysitter has you. Tuesday after school, Coach wants to you hit Practice Ice so you can do your program with the music. Gordon and Coach will be there with you, but the Babysitter will have to take you there."
"Aw, why?"
"Because the competition isn't very far off. Coach wants to be sure you'll do your best, and so you need to practice."
"But then I won't have enough time for homework."
Wow. He's really playing the homework card? "I've come home lots of times to you not having done your homework, so we can do it together when I get home. Just like all those other times."
"Ugh."

Am I committing the Cardinal Parental Sin of Forcing? I don't think so. If Stitch wants to compete, and Stitch wants to win, then Stitch has to understand that there is a process he has to go through to get there. I think I'd be an even worse parent if I just tossed him out in a spangly costume without getting him to practice. Stitch still doesn't understand why actors will rehearse every day, and I think he's under the impression that Big League Skaters just head out and make it up as they go. And why not? They make it look so easy! With the exception of Kovalevski looking like lions were waiting at the ice door and falling on his terrified ass, all the Big League skaters are confident and poised. Stitch didn't see the long and arduous training process it took to get that poise.

This "practice" thing is a learning process, and it's still new. I think I'd have the same discussions with him if he were doing acting or choir or dance. And this is Soft Mommy compared from when I would almost sit on top of him with a book and make him read aloud to me to prove to himself that yes, you can read those bigger words. Or when I'd get out the handwriting practice books and go through it over and over and over again. Or when we spent a full forty five minutes learning Averages. I forced it, and it paid off.

Conversely, I know when to back off. When Stitch held a copy of Goosebumps in a hand wet with tears, so frustrated by my insistence that this happen, I told him to take a break for a half hour. We had cookies and talked about something else, and then went back to Goosebumps. He got through chapter 2 without tears. When his pencils broke in the agony of "b's" versus "d's", the paper splotched with evidence of his mounting frustration, we went out for a walk. When we came back, we tried again and it was better. Friday, when he was mad that practice left no time for play, that was a clear indication to back off. So today, he has the entire time to play. I'll even provide extra funds for the concession stand as a surprise bonus.

I think there's a vast difference between helping a kid reach their goals and abilities, and plainly forcing them to do something they don't want to do. Stitch clearly loves to skate, and his quiet ambition sits just below the surface. But he's never done anything like this before. I think he is still afraid of failure, and doubts his abilities. It's not so much a question of "forcing" as it is helping him to see that, "Yes, you can do this, you just need to work at it." He doesn't have that emotional strength yet, so that's where I have to step in and shore him up. (And what if I let him give up? What message would that send?)

"Three turns are hard."
"I know. I'm sorry. But you're getting much better at them."
"I can't do them."
"That's not true. You've got them on your right foot, you just need to work on your left."
"It's too hard."
"You said the same thing about going backwards once."
"I did?"
"Yes. You once told me that you'd never go backwards. Now you're doing backwards crossovers."
"Oh. Yeah."
"Why don't we ask Gordon and his mom if they want to come to Chuck E. Cheese with us after the competition?"
"Yeah. Gordon's nice."

I may be tough, but I'm also big on rewards for honest effort.

(Update: My suspicions were verified about "making it up as they go." I had on the Skate America exhibition over breakfast. Stitch says, "I want to be in an exhibition."
"Then you'll have to practice a routine, just like competition."
"No I won't!"
"Yes, you do. Do you think they just make it up?"
"Yeah!"
" No. These programs get practiced like any other."
Stitch shakes a fist and says, "Curse you, skating coaches!" He then changed tonight's dinner menu from "shepherd's pie" to "candy pie.")

Saturday, January 1, 2011

I did it.

Today I sewed the pants. With a zipper, and belt loops. Stitch tried them on, and there is at least six months of growth room in them provided he doesn't shoot up and around more than three inches. It actually wasn't so bad. I took my time, followed the instructions, set everything out precisely as the pictures showed, drank some wine and I have to say that when I flipped it all out, it was magic. Who knew?

I'm ready to head to the fabric store tomorrow to get some stuff and make practice pants. All his practice pants are getting too short, and I'm feeling gutsy.