With thoughts of solidarity for fellow Americans blanketed beneath snow dumped by the polar vortex whirling around much of our nation, I toyed with idea of taking the boys ice skating. (It’s 70 degrees and sunny bordering on dangerous drought conditions here.)
Ok, fine. The public skating session coincided with the San Francisco Forty-Niners playoff football game and I thought we’d have the rink to ourselves.
We hit the ice for the first time in the run-up to Christmas. I thought it’d be fun – in the “You know what would be a good idea for the holidays?!” kind of way.
I thought it would be a 15-minute endeavor. We’d arrive, we’d fearfully strap on skates, we’d carry the boys to the ice. They’d take two slip-n-slides, cry, and then we’d leave.
I prepped the boys in advance. Search had been asking about it all week. The fateful day dawned. We arrived for the public skate session; it is what should have been naptime. Tempting fate, we were…
“HOCKEY!” screeched Destroy. (Baby steps kid.)
We secured our passes (decidedly unsticky “Hello, My Name is…” style labels that were required to remain affixed to skaters at all times as proof of purchase) and headed over to the skate rental booth.
“Smallest size we got is a kid 9. No half sizes ‘less you want figure skates,” the rink rental man advised, sizing up our tiny dudes. Now, I fondly remember my white figure skates with the red maple leaf that my father had procured on a business trip in Minnesota some time in the early ‘90s, but realizing the boys are at the perfect age for the “why is that different” phase, I declared hockey skates for all with great gusto. Size 9 it would be for Search. (Destroy is already wearing a 10.)
(Tangent: For all you familiar with the feel of figure skates – hockey skates are nothing like them and take a few moments to get used to.)
Let me just take this moment to assure you that tiny hockey skates might be the cutest footwear ever.
We booted up. But before I had finished lacing my own skates, Destroy had leapt up and was marching determinedly toward the rink. Huh. Wasn’t expecting that. Apparently we’ve got that balance thing down pat.
We took to the ice. In what might be one of the greatest realizations of our time using Occam’s razor, a section of the rink was roped off for beginners. Stacks of buckets sat next to the entry gate for those new to the experience to lean upon.
Destroy took off – step-n-sliding around with his buckets. He scooted himself right over the dividing line between free skate and beginner buckets, and informed me he wanted to go there. I let him know he could do just exactly that just as soon as he could skate without his buckets. As should have been expected, he promptly let go of his buckets and went kersplat. He wasn’t so sure about this whole skating thing for a while after that.
Meanwhile, Search had started out tentatively, insisting that he hold my hand. He must always do things according to his own timeline as he scopes out the situation. After about 15 minutes he requested off the ice for a break. It was what I had anticipated.
We decided to go check out a hockey game being played on another rink in the complex. (We’re California people, this isn’t just a frozen pond. It’s a complex with four full NHL-size rinks, and a full sports bar that serves really good coffee in case you get a chill in the 63 degree climate-controlled environment.)
A youth league was in the midst of a winter holiday tournament – those zipping around looked to be in the 11-12 year old range, wearing bright teal San Jose Jr. Sharks jerseys. “Look at the big players just like on TV,” Search was very pleased with these up close seats for a “professional” game.
He was entranced by the action. “Wow, I want to play that! Except I don’t want to be the protected hockey guy,” he said eyeing the heavily padded goalie who was hard at work deflecting shot after shot. “That guy’s crazy.”
After about 15 minutes in this self-appropriated penalty box, and one bag of popcorn, he was ready for a second half. Parental guidance was unnecessary. He was scooting! By the end of the session he’d even completed several laps bucket-free (although those did require a parent’s helping hand.)
As a reward for such impressive sportsmanship on the ice, the boys were rewarded with the Zamboni machine cutting the ice before the next session. (A friend has told me there are three things that hold all humans at rapt attention: rushing rivers, fires and Zamboni machines. Sure enough, every single skater was glued to the glass around the rink watching that machine circling and circling.)
Our departure from the afternoon’s adventure was met with a steady stream of requests to return to the rink (hourly). Much to Search’s chagrin, we ended up staying home this past weekend. Naptime is sacred, especially when the boys are actually sleeping.
“That is not hockey,” Search informed us. Destroy picked up his Nerf football and hurled it across the room.
‘Tis the season for my little athletes to explore all the sports.