Ice skating is a big deal in New England. Sure, I took skating lessons when I was a little kid in Illinois, but it’s nothing like the culture of ice skating out here. In particular, hockey is a huge extracurricular activity in this area. But to tell the truth, it’s something I hope my kids have absolutely zero interest in pursuing. Not only do I not find the sport all that interesting, and think it has too high a risk of injury, but the amount of gear involved is ridiculous, and the kids’ games are at (I shit you not) SIX O’CLOCK ON SUNDAY MORNINGS. Hell to the no.
So, being that M and I have no emotional connection to the New England hockey culture, and a severe aversion to the logistical nightmare of having our kids participate in it, we had never taken the kids ice skating. But Sunday afternoon, friends invited us to join them for open skate, and I decided to take Rebecca and Daniel. They were both totally excited by the idea.
I was a little nervous, to be honest. The last time I had strapped on ice skates was probably almost 20 years ago, and I hadn’t been all that great back then, either. And here I was with a couple of five-year-olds who had never been on skates at all. Eh, what the hell. We’d survive.
It started out with both of them clinging to the wall, and me helping one of them at a time (while trying to maintain my own balance – ice skating was NOT just like riding a bike…). Daniel, especially, hung onto my hand for dear life, putting his entire body weight on my arm. I had no idea what I was doing, really, other than trying to keep them mostly upright. I’m hardly a qualified teacher.
And then, the next thing I knew, Rebecca let go of the wall. A little at a time, then a little more, and she was off.
I’m not saying she was the picture of grace and speed. But there she went, 20 minutes after lacing up her ice skates, motoring around the rink. And when she fell, she laughed and got back up – not necessarily her default reaction to such things, so I have to think it was good that I warned her ahead of time that she’d fall down. I was amazed.
Daniel took a while, but eventually I convinced him that he could do it, too. And lo and behold, I had two kids ice skating under their own power.
Not only that, but they were both absolutely thrilled with the experience and begging to take lessons before we even left the rink. I’m a little torn about that – I love the idea of them learning to skate, and I’d just as soon have someone more qualified than me in charge of teaching them. But we’re not exactly light on the activities as it is, so I worry about over-scheduling.
And yet, ice skating is one of those skills that a kid in New England really ought to have. Even if they (please oh please) never play hockey, there will almost certainly be ice skating birthday parties and the general expectation that you know what to do with a pair of skates. So maybe we will give those lessons a try, after all.