The following is a factual account of our trip to Tiger Bounce today, where they have a small skating rink on which parents can walk and help their inexperienced children learn to skate.
“Ok girls, we have your skates on, so go ahead. I’m gonna find a place to put my jacket where I can keep an eye on it.”
Each girl puts one skate on the rink floor. Both immediately collapse into highly advanced yoga poses.
I pick them up and flop their arms over the walls. One scoots to the left, the other to the right. I give a sigh. Forget it, I need to get my jacket off.
I leave and find a table on which to set my jacket, but there is spilled water. Glance back. Child one is still clinging to the wall like it is the hero and she is the heroine on the front of a romance novel. Forward progress appears to have stopped. Child two has gotten ahold of a PVC walker-thingy on wheels. She seems happy.
The situation is stable enough that I go for napkins to clean the table. I sop up the water and discard napkins in overflowing trash can.
Back to the rink. Child one still in place. Child two splayed out on the floor exactly in the middle of the rink, making occasional spastic efforts to either stand or grab her walker-thingy.
Man watching his own child nearby helps child two up. Takes extra moment to gaze my way and judge me as an incompetent parent.
I ignore this. Child two is now back up and mobile. I go to dislodge child one from the wall. We move out onto the rink with child one swinging wildly. Her body is oriented correctly, but without sufficient friction to hold her in place her feet alternately fly out in front of her and behind her until she is a living pendulum.
Is anyone rifling through my coat yet? Quick glance while attempting to stabilize swinging daughter one. No thieves.
Child two, nearby, falls down again, stretching her legs in ways that would send me to the hospital. Child one requests to change places with child two. Two agrees, so now the taller more awkward one leaves with walker thing.
Child two is more stable, but somehow immediately loses anything she has learned about skating with walker-thingy. As we move forward her feet travel on two different trajectories, as if intent on reaching opposite sides of the rink. Child two blames this on me. Because clearly I am colluding with her feet against her.
Child one is yelling from the other side of the rink for my attention. I set child two holding on the wall and turn around. Child one is proud because, somehow against the general rules of physics she is managing to inch forward simply by moving her feet back and forth wildly. About 99% of the energy of this motion is lost on the returning stroke, but she seems pleased, so I smile and give a thumbs up.
I take a moment to hope no one has stolen the wallet out of my jacket yet.
Child two sees this apparent victory by child one and demands to have back the walker-thingy. I frown, but suppose it’s time for her turn anyway. I leave child two on the wall and walk toward child one to negotiate the exchange. Child one and I come to acceptable terms.
I turn back to child two just in time to see her moving along the wall, arms draped over for support, heading toward a drink that someone has left on top of the wall. I want to judge that person, the drink-leaver, but they probably got distracted when their children started a spontaneous kick-boxing bout or something. So I holster my scorn, reach down, grab child one around the waist with one arm and take up the walker-thingy in the other and run to stop child two. I arrive in time and the spill is averted.
Now back with child one, we return to swinging our way across the rink. I announce to her that we will only skate for ten more minutes. In the meantime, child two has skated to the far side of the rink and inexplicably abandons the walker-thingy. Child one and I make our way to her. I gesticulate wildly toward daughter two as we watch another parent greedily grab the walker-thingy for one of the two children that she mistakenly brought to the rink in a pair.
As child one and I get within range of child two both children again collapse onto the floor. I abandon my earlier time table and announce that we are done skating. Both girls respond in unison “Awwwww! But this is so fun.”
Thankfully no one stole my wallet.