I’m the big meanie who insists on regular, early bedtimes, because SOME children I know tend to be EXTREMELY CRANKY when they don’t get enough sleep. And I find school mornings challenging enough without having to pry people out of bed while they complain that they’re far too tired to get up. It’s enough to get everyone to pack up their bags and remember their lunches and change their socks (don’t ask, seriously), so bedtime is sacred.
Except that the last couple of weeks have pretty much sucked mightily. Certain excretory substances we won’t discuss in polite company are hitting oscillating air dispersing devices as regards the fate of our school district, and this has resulted in some interesting repercussions even for RIGHT NOW (and by “interesting” I of course mean “suckass”), and then of course there is the small matter of lightning striking twice in the most unfair of ways, and trying to cope with my own feelings while helping the kids deal with theirs.
So last night we went to Skate Night.
Honestly, I didn’t know that roller rinks and faux-leather boots outfitted with four fat wheels and a giant pencil-eraser of a toe ornament still existed. But apparently they do, and while it may not be the be-all and end-all haven of coolness that it was back when I was in middle school, periodically the school declares it to be Skate Night and you can hit the rink and the school gets some of the money.
We’ve never gone before. Walking in there last night was like stepping back into 1982, and suddenly I wanted to slip my retainer into my purse before any cute boys saw me wearing it. Whoa. Fortunately there have been two important changes since the days when I skated over to the soda machines and spent five minutes trying to dig the change out of my skin-tight jeans: First, the music is still awful, but at least it’s more modern awful music; and second—at least last night, anyway—it no longer appears to be the whole awkward-school-dance mentality presented on wheels. There were no “slow” songs and none of the “games” had to do with pairing off or choosing people to skate.
My children had an absolute blast, which was just what this mama’s heart really needed, and I had a great time because it turns out that neither of my children know how to skate.
Think about that for a minute. They had the time of their lives, but neither of them can actually skate. Not that that stopped either of them from trying.
I took up my spot with a group of parents shortly after we arrived. “If this night doesn’t end with a trip to the Emergency Room, I’ll consider it a success,” I said. Only a couple of minutes of watching my kids pinwheel their arms and flail about had me certain that it would be all fun and games right up until someone broke an arm. But I waited. And they flailed. And they fell. Repeatedly. And they jumped up grinning, and did it all over again.
Chickadee went off with her friends and stayed as far away from me or her brother as possible, as quickly as possible. She deigned to come back when pizza was offered, but the message that I was not needed or welcome this evening was broadcast loud and clear. I reminded myself that back when I was her age, I used to get dropped at the rink for hours at a time, and probably would’ve found a lurking parent beyond mortifying. So I kept my distance and pretended not to watch her picking her way slowly around the rink, leaning on her friends for support, laughing and waving to her classmates, and just generally doing exactly what a kid her age should be doing.
Monkey and his pals flailed their way along the wall looking for all the world like the Three Stooges, only smaller. And drunker. They would hang in clumps of twos and threes, and when one finally succumbed and fell, it invariably triggered a chain reaction of tripping and twisting, and more than once I had to cover my eyes as a flying skate came within grazing distance of a head. But each time they popped right back up, trying to breathe through their laughter, waving back to us moms and then continuing on their way.
We stayed out past bedtime. When I finally called for them to turn in their skates, they were both sweaty and starting to tire, and so no one argued. We made our way out to the car and headed for home.
“That was like, the most fun EVER!” said Chickadee. “Can we come again?”
“Can we come again TOMORROW?” chimed in Monkey.
I chuckled, and told them we’d have to see, but that sure, we’d probably come again.
This morning they both had some new bruises, and Chickadee says her wrists hurt, and neither of them was moving particularly quickly as we went through our morning routine. But for a little while last night, for the bargain price of $3 apiece, the most pressing issue in our lives was just standing up. And even when that was a challenge, no one really cared.
It was a most excellent respite, and a good reminder.