Girlhood. Momhood. Lifehood.
Insights on navigating the craziness of life with young kids one — “large coffee with skim please” — day at a time.

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Ice, Ice Baby

February 26th, 2010

So this past weekend I put on ice skates for the first time since I was about 10. And even back then I tried skating only once, maybe twice. After I saw my classmate Ian Baxter slice the top of his foot with the blade while taking his skates off, requiring stitches, well, that was that. I stuck to roller skating. No sharp edges. And they had a disco ball at the rink.

But, now, some 25 years and 2 kids later, it turns out I’m forced to face every sport and physical activity I’ve ever loved, feared or hated all over again. Case in point – last month we signed the kids up for ice skating lessons, thinking it would be a great way to pass the time during the dreaded winter months. And much to my chagrin, my husband insisted we get all new shiny equipment for the kids. My daughter’s hand-me-down skates from a neighbor were apparently OK, but my son’s used black figure skates that I snagged from my favorite local consignment shop didn’t make the cut. My husband insisted it was because his young ankles needed more support that (of course) only a brand new (and totally tough and manly looking) pair of hockey skates could provide.


He also bought them the fancy hockey helmets with the metal gate over their faces. I have to say though, I love seeing my little girl in all that gear – her hot pink snow pants, lime green jacket with pink faux fur collar and white helmet with intimidating silver gate over her little face, big blue eyes peering out. And by the way, a rite of passage as a mother is having to reach into a hockey mask with one finger to wipe off tears of frustration. I wonder if Wayne Gretzky’s mother ever had to do that.

Anyhoo, except for one bad week when our over-tired son refused to set foot on the ice, they’ve loved it and have done quite well, which is especially heartwarming given the iceberg-sized price tag of the whole thing.

For weeks now I’ve been content to just hang out on the sidelines, chatting with the other parents and waving enthusiastically through the glass, giving the kids two thumbs up every time they fall on their butts and get right back up. And I’ve been perfectly happy to watch my husband shepherd them around the rink during the open skate portion of the class – wearing his brand new skates of course. But recently the kids asked me (prompted by my husband..thanks for that, babe) to join them on the ice. And I promised (begrudgingly) I would. So after our recent vacation week and a few days of watching Olympic figure skating, I decided I’d better try it…I’d better practice what I preach…”You just have to try it honey! It doesn’t matter that some of the other kids can skate faster, you’ll get better every week, you just need to try it, you might love it!” and other motivational blah-blah-blah.

This past Sunday, it was time, finally, for me to break the ice. Given the possible extra electrical activity going on my brain the past year, I wondered if I should wear a helmet. I decided not to – better to blend in as much as possible and just slowly make my way around the inner wall of the rink, undetected by the droves of other parents and kids. And it wasn’t like I was planning to speed skate or try a triple salchow (which fyi, was named after Swedish figure skater Ulrich Salchow but it’s still a weird name for such a graceful move).

So with some fake enthusiasm (why is the rink so dang crowded today of all days?!) I laced up my rented skates and made my way, oh so tentatively, onto the ice. The kids were excited to teach me “some moves.” I suddenly realized that this was quite a lovely parenting moment. What a great lesson in bravery, and fearlessness I was teaching my children! I made sure I told them I was nervous and I didn’t know how to skate. I laid it on as thick as a Zamboni driver before a Bruin’s game.

“What if I fall guys?! I’m a little nervous!,” I declared.
“Don’t worry Mommy, we’ll help you!”

I was smiling (partly because it wasn’t as hard as I thought and partly because heck, yeah, I’m a darn good mom today!) while I trailed my son as he showed me how to put one foot in front of the other. Then he demonstrated how to squat down, arms bent at the elbows, tucked in tight, as if I were skiing downhill.

“What is this move for?” I asked (other than the obvious and immediate glute workout).
“I dunno,” he said, “It’s just cool.” Hmmm. OK. I played along.
Then his classmate Zoe skated by.
“Mom! Look! Zoe’s here!” And ZOOM, he was gone…my private lesson abruptly ended by a cute 7-year old brunette. A vision of things yet to come I suppose.

But I went on my merry, cautious way, and by the end of the hour, I had enough confidence to move far away from the wall. My husband complimented me on my form. I was even able to spin around in a little ice dance with my daughter, holding her hands and twirling in a circle. And except for one near run-in with a fearless toddler clutching a double stacked crate, I didn’t fall. Not once.

So mission accomplished.
Ice skating badge earned.
A few extra calories burned (oui, my glutes).
Kids and husband impressed.
Not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
And of course now I want my own shiny new skates…now that I’ve earned them.

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