Thursday, April 12, 2012

Yay, Those People!

I was sitting in the stands last week, reading a million boring things on the Internet and praying that Stumbleupon would finally find something fun and interesting for me to look at. I looked out at the kids skating, listened back to the parents chattering, and I realized how bored I was. Just. Bored.

That looks like so much fun, I thought, watching the kids fly through back crossovers and waltz threes. I wish I could do that.

Parents do a lot of jabbering about "oh, I'd never be able to do it" in regards to their children skating. I've said it a million times myself. It's a favorite topic, expecially when some kid is having trouble.

Here is the script:
"Little Susie is having so much trouble with that *insert troublesome element.*"
"Oh, that's unfortunate. But she's really good at *insert strong element here to reassure fellow parent.*"
"I know, she's just stuck. It's so hard."
"Oh, I know. It's all hard. I mean, I know I could never do it!"
"Me neither!"
*Insert obligatory banter consisting of self-deprecating comments about age, joints, weight, cellulite or any given combination of these things.*

I was crossing the lobby to get a Diet Coke when another mother caught me. "Oh, hey there! How are you?"
"Fine, fine. How is your skater?"
"Oh good. She's on the Synchro team now."
"That's great. They seem to have fun."
"How is Stitch?"
"He's having some trouble with FS4. It's hard for him right now."
"Oh, it's all hard," she said, and I thought, here we go. "He's such a fun little performer, though."
"I know. But it's getting him to work through the hard parts."
"He'll be fine. I mean, I could never do it!" she filled in the script.

At this point I was tired of the script. "Oh, I don't know. It doesn't look so hard. I'd like to take a class."

She stopped laughing, and gave me a look. "You're not going to be one of those Adult Skaters, are you?"
"Maybe. Why not?"
"I mean," her stare hardened and she lowered her voice. "Have you seen those people?"

I shit you not, this was an actual conversation.

"They're nice. I like them." I honestly had no other response to what had just happened. Those People? Really?

She laughed to herself and settled back down into the booth. "Well, just don't hurt yourself."

I walked away, forgetting the Diet Coke. Why not? What's stopping you?

I've talked a big game about joining a class and learning to skate myself. My adult skater friends are always telling me that I should. On Tuesday mornings I watch an adult skater finish up her lessons, and I'm envious. Something always stops me. It could be fear. Could be self doubt. Could be anything, really. Could be that I'm not really believing that I could actually do something like this.

One of my most unforgettable moments with Coach Y was one morning when she was fussing at me, back during the Great Gamma Crisis of 2011. I was pushing back, wanting him to stay in Gamma, and she looked at me and said, "Anyone can do this shit if you have money."

And that kind of shut me up because I realized she was right. Throw enough money at any kid and they'll be doing decent skating, why can't that same equation work for me? And what do I care about those Other Moms thinking I'm one of THOSE PEOPLE? I think they're plenty weird in their own way.

I'm taking lessons in the Summer, and I need a coach to vouch for me to sign up for Alpha. I can do swizzles, forward and back, I can glide on one foot. I'm good at inside edges and still a little leery of outside edges but I can do them if I'm feeling gutsy. I'm better at stopping now, and I'm working on forward crossovers. One of my favorite things to do is Scooter Pushes, really fast. I started trying to go backwards on one foot before my plantar facsitis began crying and I had to stop for awhile. But I got special insoles and that pain seems to be receding, and I'm ready to try again.

I think to some degree all the skating moms are harboring some secret longing to be out there themselves, and having your kid out there can be a pretty reasonable substitute for that. I think every mom standing by the door with her arms out or in or whatever is skating by proxy. Like Munchausen's but more expensive.

Well. I think I'm ready to give it a try. (It doesn't look that hard.)


  1. Yay you!! Welcome to the adult skating club! I can't believe how mean the folks are at your rink. Around here I've always received a ton of support from the skate moms who know I'm skating. They ask about my lessons, applaud my improvement and some have even started skating themselves, saying I've inspired them. (They saw me when I literally couldn't let go of the boards. If I can learn to skate, anyone can!)

    Good luck with your lessons. Come visit me sometime! I'll take you to the monuments, the museums...and the local rinks! :-)

  2. Go you! I'm a skater who is also a skating mum, so I'm not letting anyone tell me I can't do it. All the adults at my rink are really supportive and friendly - I get odd looks from the non-skating mums, but who cares. I did a 2 day course a couple of weeks ago where I was in a group with a bunch of mostly pre-teens (I think my age/weight was greater than their total age/weight)...some weird looks from the kids ("who is this adult who is skating with us who isn't a coach"), but all the parents seemed really impressed that I was going for it!

    Don't worry about what anyone else thinks about you skating - Stitch will be majorly impressed if nothing else! I'm always amazed/disgusted at the mums I meet who spend 3 hours a day at the rink and don't bother trying to do it themselves - if you're going to be there why not learn! I even got hubby doing group classes...

  3. Yay for you!! Become one of "those people" - I'm one, and I can say for sure you'll never regret it.

    Mer11 is right, I have always found the other, non-skating parents to be quite supportive (even though I think sometimes they think I'm a little bit nuts for getting up at 4:30AM to practice). WHAT IS UP with your rink? Come visit us here in DC! The kids are supportive and accepting too. I think they appreciate having an adult around who really gets it.

    And you can totally learn these skills. I could barely skate forward when I started.

  4. Yay yay yay! Seeing you on public sessions, you look like a natural. Just skate safe :)

    Our rink is lucky to have great coaches that work well with and understand adult skaters, and the adult number in ice shows certainly beats lots of kids numbers in choreo and showmanship.

  5. That's so cool! My Mum is the person who introduced me to skating in the first place. She has found amazing friends at the rink, and is now helping out with Learn to Skate classes right along side me (I'm 16). I think the adult skaters are the most inspiring for the simple fact that they have to overcome so many social bariers just to step on the ice. Thank you for that inspiring post and best of luck on your endeavors.

  6. "I mean," her stare hardened and she lowered her voice. "Have you seen those people?"

    So, what exactly has she seen me doing?

    "I need a coach to vouch for me to sign up for Alpha"

    No you don't, just sign up.

    "I started trying to go backwards on one foot before my plantar facsitis began crying"

    Interesting, skating is one of the few things that doesn't make my plantar fascia hurt.

    "I think to some degree all the skating moms are harboring some secret longing to be out there themselves, and having your kid out there can be a pretty reasonable substitute for that."

    That is some interesting reverse-Freudian analysis.

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  8. Hit the Publish button too early...

    I teach a small group private lesson of about 5 moms who have always just wanted to get out there and try it. One has kids that skated and then decided it wasn't for them. One has two girls in the tot class. Another skated as a kid. It's a really fun group and we meet when at least two of five can make it - we're working on everything from forward crossovers to three turns. I really enjoy the time with them. There are like minded folks at the rink. They just aren't there on Saturday morning. (Just want to say also that this is not a solicitation but I'm sure Skate Mom knows that.)

    Adult skating is about pushing yourself to try something new. I started racing triathlon when I turned 30 (I wasn't and am still not a great swimmer or runner). But, I wanted a challenge. I started because I volunteered at a race and thought, "I could totally do that." I was so unprepared for my first race. But over the years, I’ve joined a tri club, taken swimming lessons, joined a race group with a professional coach with planned workouts, etc. I did have to throw some money at it but I love it now. Have you seen my bike? I’m about as proud of it as kids are with their Zuca bags.

    Forget those other moms. They're not all like that. When we were running both synchro teams practicing at 6:30 (yes, we used to run practice with two teams, alternating run throughs), Sam had a Synchro Parents group class going on the Studio from 7-8am. I think there were 8 or 9 people in it.

    You should also think about trying to get out to the Bensenville rink this weekend to see Adult Nationals...

  9. Hurray for you! As a non-skating parent, I applaud Adult skaters. I teach off ice to a class of Adult skaters, they are the most fun and friendly people at the rink. "Those people" are the ones who are genuinely interested and supportive of my skater, and as a matter of fact, of all the skaters at the rink.

    Hey, you sit there anyway, might as well get some exercise and fun out of it right? If you have the money, go-for -it! Keep us posted.

  10. Pre-Alpha and Alpha at our rink meet at the same time, so you don't need to find a coach to vouch for you. It doesn't really matter which one you sign up for, either. The coach(es) rotate through the class and work with us as individuals after we've done some group warm-up. Would very much recommend the Wednesday night or Thursday afternoon class because of the coach, but also the camaraderie. I've not been to Saturday, so that's not to say anything bad about that class.

  11. Excellent. What does Stitch think? Maybe you guys can share a group lesson with his coach or have an ice show number together! Better hustle to get to his level.

  12. Yay for those people indeed! Adult skaters a different bunch for sure - can't tell you how many 60-years-and-up aged skaters I know (it is A LOT). The really crazy ones have been back on skates within a few weeks of hip and knee replacements so they could go to nationals and skate. Not joking. But they really are pretty cool for the most part - I mean, they have a much better understanding of the time/money/effort/dedication skating takes to accomplish than the non-skating moms, and their support is (in general) much more genuine because of it. Which isn't to say I don't know my fair share of competition-obsessed snotty adults too (they might be over twice my age, but they still act like 14-year-olds), but they are rare exceptions.

    So go you! Will be exciting to hear how you progress along with Stitch!

  13. I am also an adult skater with a 9 year old daughter who skates. We both started 2 years ago and are at about the same level (Freeskate 3/4). My daughter is a bit more cautious than I am but I'm sure she will surpass me soon. I probably won't be able to do a sit spin because of my knee and I've been working on a backspin for a year :(

    I haven't progressed as much as I would like in the past 6 months because I have a part-time job and am only able to skate 2 days a week now. Last year I skated 6-8 hours a week. I also only occasionally have lessons because there's not much money left after paying for my daughters. The first year I just took group lessons. All the adults at my rink are really nice but I wish there were more, sometimes there are only 3-4 people on the morning public skate.

  14. Just tell them Xan is encouraging you, and she thinks you'll be just GREAT. Watch all the blood drain out of their faces. ;)