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bad parenting, winter break edition

My kids are on winter break, which is two weeks in duration but feels like it’s not a day less than 57. We are currently on day 7 and have another week to go. We’ve made gingerbread houses, gone to the playground, shot Nerf guns, constructed Legos. And then it was December 26th and we ran out of things to do. So we bowled, one day. Finn’s preferred method of bowling is to heave the bowling ball as hard as he can into the ground right at his feet, but he got the job done with the help of some bumpers. Tate played with a ramp and doubled my score.

Flush with success from the bowling, the next day, I suggested roller skating. Tom cringed and gave me one of those looks that indicates that he wants to say no but is powerless to do so in the face of my enthusiasm, which can morph very quickly into rage when challenged. Still, he tried: “I think maybe we should go ice skating instead? It’s easier.”

I humphed. Easier for whom, exactly? Tom grew up in Michigan where everyone ice skates from an early age. I ice skated for the first time when I was 24 and almost broke both ankles, which was an unpleasant surprise given that Koreans are historically very good at Olympic short track. Roller skating, however—now that was the stuff. I grew up skating at the Skate World out in Hillsboro, and I was really, really good. I mean, not to brag, but I was shooting the duck and skating backwards and I hokey pokey’ed on wheels even better than I did in regular shoes.

In spite of all that, in the face of Tom’s doubt, I wavered. The ice skating rink was much closer, and also inside this mall, which I love. But no. I’m not in the business of doing things I suck at in my leisure time. “The ice is cold when you fall,” I said, with an edge of steel in my voice. “I think we should go roller skating.” So we went roller skating. Not just us and our hapless children, but with poor Aunt Susan, Uncle Matt, and Grandma in tow.

The first sign of trouble at the rink came when we were handed our skates at the rental counter. It was comforting, in a way, to realize that roller skates had evolved not at all in the twenty years since I’d last skated. Tate’s pair weighed like ten pounds, which is approximately a third of his body weight. I shrugged off the first seeds of doubt and strapped them on. And Tate seemed excited. All three of the men in my family have the trait where they can picture themselves doing something before they actually do it, and they are AWESOME in their mind’s eye. Once he had his wheels on, Tate was ready to roll.

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Until he moved his legs. He fell like eighty times and we were still on the carpet in the rental area. I started to sweat a bit, but laughed and soldiered on. I’d chosen roller skating when everyone else wanted to ice skate, and what that meant was that by God, these boys were going to skate if it killed me. I grabbed Tate under his armpits and skated him to the rink between my legs.

We gingerly rolled onto the rink and attempted to merge into traffic. If you’ve not had the pleasure of skating or skiing with a kid between your legs, it’s a fascinating lesson in physics. Your kid will put all of his torso weight backwards and lean into you, which propels their bottom half forward, so that the skis or wheels shoot forward at a faster speed than either of your bodies. Too complicated? Picture Tate, laying almost on his back, being held up solely by my hands under his armpits. From a distance it probably looked like I was pushing a wheelbarrow. We made it one lap around and my quads were on fire. I was sweatier than I’ve ever gotten in hot yoga.

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I looked around for Tom and Finn. Surely they were having better luck. I spotted them across the rink. Finn was between Tom and Aunt Susan, pulling on both sets of grown-up arms in an effort to avoid falling down. Tom shot me a look that said “Welcome to the hell you have created.” Yikes. I left Tate with Grandma and skated over to them. I took Finn’s hands from the front and skated backwards while pulling him forward. He was skating! At least for a few seconds. And the look he gave me from those amazing brown eyes—hope, elation—is what will stick with me from our otherwise traumatic roller skating experience. Not my back, which I’m pretty sure I threw out, or the image of Tom, powerless to stop, running a kid into the wall and shouting “I’m sorry!!” over his shoulder.

Ok, maybe I’ll have two images that stick with me.

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15 Comments Post a comment
  1. Meredith J #

    Okay, a month and a half later we’re at Skateworld and I’m getting flashes of Tate’s face in this post in my mind. Of course, after reading this, I thought “it won’t really be that hard.” It was worse. Half way around my back was screaming and my child was crying. It took Tod walking the girls around the rink while wearing his cowboy boots, for them to get the feel of it and start enjoying it. Who would have thought he’d be the better roller skate instructor! Good news, however, in the end, they wanted to go again! Oaks Park, here we come!

    February 14, 2013
    • meredith. if it’s bad enough to blog about, you know it’s bad. although you have girls. and i think people who have girls secretly think things like roller skating will go better for them. now: i want to know where this rink was that you are allowed to walk on the rink in cowboy boots

      February 14, 2013
  2. My preference for ice skating over the wheely variety can be summed up in 2 words: Hot Cocoa. In my mind, successful skating is all about how you finish…and anything ending with warmth and chocolate? Automatically successful. Throw in a ridiculous heap of marshmallows and nirvana approaches.

    (Well, at least Tom shoutpologized…I’m pretty sure I know at least one male who would’ve more likely pretended it was the kid’s own fault for “getting in the way”.)

    December 31, 2012
  3. Not every kid in Michigan grew up on ice skates. Perhaps that is why I defected. lol Loving those U of M pants!

    December 29, 2012
    • always an outlier. i want some of those pants really badly

      December 29, 2012
  4. Lori #

    I always fancied myself great at Shoot the Duck! I usually stayed up the second longest. Some skinny bitch in tight bleached out denim overalls always beat me! Perhaps my obsession with beating her is why, at 43yrs old, I’m facing a knee replacement? Ah, good times!

    December 29, 2012
    • Listen. Second best is the best place to be when you’re talking about something like shoot the duck. You don’t want to be TOO good

      December 29, 2012
  5. My favorite sentence: “I’m not in the business of doing things I suck at in my leisure time.”
    So true, neither am I. Why feel inferior when you could be doing something you’re AWESOME at and making unwitting strangers gape at you in unabashed shock?
    Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but really… I’m all for trying new things, but I’m also for sticking to things that make you look like a pro. It’s always good to get a little confidence boost. 🙂

    December 28, 2012
    • exactly. i am forced to suck in other aspects of my life. why choose to suck when you have options?

      December 29, 2012
  6. awwwwwwww well you still have a week to go ice skating. 🙂

    December 28, 2012
  7. Lauren Garrett #

    I’ll leave you with another image: me sitting by a fire laughing OUT LOUD as I picture Tom yelling back to the kid. Thanks for the afternoon laugh, my friends (both you and Tom!).

    December 28, 2012
    • You’re welcome, darling. All too easy to imagine, no?

      December 28, 2012

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