With a sweet mother’s day present like this from Vivien I hate to let her down. But I did.
They really make it look so easy, Kristi Yamaguchi, Peggy Fleming, et al.
I totally blew it as a skater mom. Vivien has been looking forward to skating lessons for months. I bought her skates for Christmas. I trucked out the Culver rink and was the first one to sign up for mommy and me skating lessons.
I was secretly scared because it’s about 30 years since I’ve skated. But, I tried to toughen up and get my mittens in order.
We get to the rink and it’s packed with different group lessons. I went here as a child and was much more confident on the ice then. Vivien is excited as I laced up her pretty new, perfect white skates. I was less excited as I put on the big, black rentals, that are clearly the largest 7 I’ve ever been in. But, we were the last pair out, so I decided to deal. As we stepped to go out on the ice an instructor came over to us and extended a hand to Vivien. I suddenly realize I’m F–ed. It’s like the top of an escalator all over again.
“Go with the teacher Vivien.” But she got her scared of strangers, I want mommy look. Crap.
I stepped on the ice, holding the railing as I went, and plead with Vivien to go with the teacher.
“Save yourself, I’m no good to you!” That’s what was in my head, it came out more like, “Come on honey, the nice teacher will help you.”
We all finally got to the gathering of parents and kids. The head teacher yells out to me, “Do you skate?”
” I did …30 years ago.”
“Parents who come to this class have to be able to skate so they can support the kids.” or something like this. I heard, “Hey dumb ass, my teachers can’t babysit you when we have little bity kids who need help here. What were you thinking?” She was totally right. Both of her were.
“Do you have a friend who can bring her?” the teacher asked. I wasn’t sure that Mark could, but I felt defensive that she hadn’t assumed I had a husband. Like who would marry a grown woman who can’t get on the ice?
“My husband could.”
One of the teachers gave me a quick lesson in being steady on my feet. I didn’t ever fall, but I was clearly tentative. Meanwhile , Vivien had warmed up to one of the lady instructors and was moving a bit on the ice. The head instructor barked for us to get the kids by the “railroad” tracks, black lines over by the edge that the kids would stand on. Okay, I can handle that.
My own hubris amused me as I decided to take on the role of experienced skater.
“Okay, Vivien, that’s right. Put your hands on the wall and push back into me.” I gained this knowledge by looking at the 3 year old and her mom next to me. The kid did well. And I only had to move a few inches, so I was up to the challenge. When the head instructor came around I was grateful for her guidance, but I was ok. While tutoring a really tiny girl next us the instructor accidentally hit her finger with her blade. The girl was not badly hurt, she had gloves on, but she was crying and her dad was throwing daggers at the teacher who was profusely apologizing. I tried to give her a, “Oh, too bad, it happens” sympathetic face. As I was no longer the one who felt the worst out on the ice. But, that was short lived.
“Get into a circle.” She commanded. Oh crap, okay, time to act brave again. Holding Vivien’s hand we wobbled over to a sort of circle. A couple of times Vivien clutched my leg. I snapped.
“Don’t do that Vivien.” The instructors said, “Honey, don’t hold your mom’s legs.” Their inside voice, “Because she probably collapse upon you.” Twice Vivien fell down. When she did I looked at the instructors, like, “Well? Are you going to help her up?” Which they did as I put a little muscle into it as I held one of her hands. I couldn’t do more than that without going down like a hockey puck.
“Mommy, I don’t like this.” poor Vivien said.
“You want to go?” she nodded. The class was almost done. I actually was feeling pretty good as we left the ice. I had gotten better in the last 30 minutes. I held her hand and got us both to the exit. Phew.
She was so bummed. She said what sounded like to me, “The first of many disappointments. Now, I will never succeed in anything I try. I will always give up and be a stoner and live on your couch in the old folks home.” What she actually said, was, “My feet hurt and they are cold and I don’t want to come back.”
I massaged her feet and told her her aunt Cecily or daddy would bring her next week and that no one is good at anything the first time, but to please try it once more. I offered private lessons, which she rejected, but I did get her to say she would come back one more time.
And I sang “High Hopes” to her as we drove to get a sandwich and share chocolate cake.
“Just what makes that little ole ant, think he can move a rubber tree plant..” She liked that song. It makes me feel better.