Sunday, February 17, 2013

Ice Skating

One of the things we forget as we get older, is how terrifying childhood is. Or at the very least, reasonably uncomfortable. Case in point, lessons, about anything: swimming, reading, soccer, or in this case, ice skating.

I never took ice skating lessons as a kid, I think at one point my dad may have given me a pointers over a span of about 15 seconds. As he was an immigrant from a country where humidity meets monsoons, that was the entirety of his knowledge on the subject.

We have Owlet in classes, all that 'give your child the opportunities you never had' thing coming into play there. Thinking back, the only reason I didn't have this opportunity is that my parents were busy signing me up in all sorts of other activities to feel awkward and self-conscious about.To my everlasting regret, there was never a summer camp for 'sitting quietly in a corner, reading books while taking breaks to watch cartoons'.

So anyways, yes, it's difficult, this thing we call childhood. We adults are supposedly much more self-confident, assured, and generally stable in most ways of the world. And yet we put the children in situations where they have to show how clumsy and awkward they are to their peers, "what doesn't kill you will only emotionally scar you", I guess. It's a huge burden to put upon developing minds, I think. They don't know what they want to become or how to act or what to do in pretty much every situation and yet, here we go, new activity, fall down in front of your peers.

Which is one of the many reasons I decided to take skating lessons myself. The frequency with which I, all adult with a full-time job and a mortgage and life insurance and such and such am required to do anything remotely as uncomfortable as lessons I can count on the hand I use to count the number of times I'm required to get feminine products for Mrs. Owl. Which is vanishingly, and thankfully, small.

I go to the Owlet's lessons, I give all the encouragement any dad can reasonably offer without repeating himself or falling into Al Pacino "Any Given Sunday" territory, but I think it'll really help me if I put myself in the same situation.

It's much less rigid, adult lessons. They crammed the intermediate with the beginner. I'm somewhere in between, so that's fine. I can skate forwards and stop  after a fashion. If the zombie apocalypse were to happen along a an improbably frozen river I think I'd do OK. If there was a social situation where the family were to skate I'd come off less well, though. I can't skate backwards, nor stop without losing a fair bit of dignity.

We all just mill about, trying things, and two to three instructors wander about giving us pointers and things to work on. I had my choice between a fairly cheerful woman who was impressively vague in her instruction or another young woman who's dourness denoted a lifetime in a war-torn country, a feeling that all this instructing stuff was a bit beneath her, or all the above.  The dour one was actually pretty instructive but had the brusqueness of someone who, if they do not pencil in their eyebrows now, soon will and abhor anyone who goes above, say, 1100 calories per day.

The first lesson was excruciating because apparently rental skates vary widely in their fit. The ones I had had a previous life as the genocidal ruler of a country filled with compliant people, a non-existant embezzlement regulatory body, and a complete blind eye with regard to disappearing political dissidents. I want to say it tortured me, but there is something professional about that word that doesn't quite capture the enjoyment I imagine said skates extracted from my suffering.

My second lesson I happened upon a pair of skates whose sole purpose is not to inflict maximum, gleeful suffering from my body. It has other duties, like one skate being sharper than the other. It's better, much better actually, asking for a piece of wood to bite on while I skated was awkward for all involved. Still doesn't beat going on home and catching up on Transformers, though.

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