I have to admit I was very excited when Simone and Nadia were invited to a birthday skate party. I hadn’t been on skates in, um, almost a decade.
We arrived, laced up, and hit the rink. Simone can get around unassisted and Nadia needs a little coaching. Most of the kids at the party, though, were being led around the rink by their parents.
It looked so wrong.
As Simone skated by, a mother wondered whether it was her first time on skates. No, I said, she skates in our neighborhood.
“She has her own skates?”
Three things. Number one, when did roller skates fall from must-have status? Number two, my parents never saw the inside of a roller rink. And number three, I don’t think anyone can learn how to skate by holding someone else’s hand because skating is all about balance.
This is not how childhood is supposed to play out. We won’t let our children get any skinned knees or elbows, let alone fall on their bottoms while learning how to skate.
When I was little, a girl on a military base in Texas taught me how to skate. She knew how to skate and I tried to keep up. I had the scabs to prove it. Back then — and I know I am dating myself here — I had a pair of white skates with metal wheels. Yes, metal. I don’t think you could go too fast on those things.
At the party, I wanted to race around the rink, but there were all these parents walking around the rink, holding their children’s hands. There were also a few kids who would wipeout without warning. It was enough to make me pine for an Adult Skate, a time when all wibbly-wobbly skaters had to take a seat.
It didn’t happen.
It’s true what they say. Once a skater, always a skater. A whole generation isn’t learning and doesn’t know what its missing.