Since we are in the thick of winter, we celebrated the season by trying ice skating as New Experience #4. After the Build and Grow debacle, I decided that I would not tackle Brand New Experience #4 without another adult to help. So, I invited my parents to join us on an excursion to Aspen Ice in Flemington. That was the smartest decision I have made in 2012. My ice skating skills are a bit rusty since I haven’t really skated in at least 10 years. Even then, I was never very good. I did take a series of 8 figure skating lessons when I was in middle school, but the best trick I learned was how to lift one leg behind me, parallel to the ground and glide forward. I never did learn any fancy spin moves, or more importantly, how to stop.
My dad and I are pretty close, but our views on parenting differ a bit. When he climbed into our minivan and saw that I had packed helmets for the kids, he started grumbling. “Helmets? They have to wear helmets?” He then launched into a monologue about raising a nation of sissies. According to my father, a head injury is a rite of passage while learning to skate.
When we arrived at Aspen Ice, I told him I was going to rent a skate walker for each child. “A skate walker? What the hell is that? This is ridiculous. They get on the ice. They fall on their asses a few times. They figure it out!” He was so irritated by the idea of his grandchildren learning to skate with what he thought was a crutch, that he walked away from me in disgust. I decided to compromise by renting one skate walker for the kids to share. It wasn’t just out of respect for my father. When I realized it cost an additional $6 to rent a walker, I figured this was a good way to save a little money.
We laced up the kids’ ice skates as the Zamboni cleared the ice. Leah looked eager to get on the ice, but Luke was visibly nervous. He was biting his lip and said his stomach hurt. He is my cautious child and doesn’t like to go out of his comfort zone. I started to give him a little pep talk, using every cliché about confidence I could think of. While I was in the middle of my spiel, my dad said, “Okay, let’s go,” and pulled Luke right onto the ice. Sometimes my dad’s parenting is better than I give him credit for. He knew that Luke just had to get out there and try it. No sense in discussing it. Luke’s knuckles were white as he held onto the wall, but he kept putting one foot in front of the other and eventually made it around the rink. By his second turn around the rink, he was smiling. Leah was slightly cautious, but she is less afraid of trying new things. She enjoyed it right from the beginning.
Renting just one skate walker turned out to be another good decision. Using the skate walker gave the kids the confidence to move into the middle of the rink and to move a little faster. Holding onto the wall or my hand helped them learn to balance their little bodies on skates. By the end of an hour, both Luke and Leah showed noticeable improvement. I could not be any prouder!
After a little more than an hour, they were both tired and ready to go. I was so happy that they enjoyed the experience and want to go back. We will definitely try it again this winter.
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