Monday, December 10, 2012

The Course of Doing

This weekend, I had the rare opportunity to take four children skating.  They had never been.  I anticipated having to hold up two or three while they clogged around maybe 5 times before someone asked for hot chocolate.  

I was wrong.

Before I finished lacing the second child's shoes, the first was gone on the ice. She'd never skated in her life but fearless and oddly skillful, she launched out alone.   I didn't see her except as a whiz of pink and smiles for the next hour and a half. The instructor had to lead her off the rink for the Zamboni to make its run. 

The second, a more nervous child, went out, fell smack on his head and required ice to the back of his head to go back on the ice. We then learned helmets were free. Once he got the protective head gear on his noggin, he too was off to the races.  It was the equivalent of Dumbo's magic feather. 

The third had roller skated often. I told her it was almost the same.  She too, launched and while I heard (she catalogued her falls) about her spills, before we left the rink she lobbied for lessons, skates, return trips every weekend, you name it.  Visions of gold medals danced in her head.  

Then came the fourth little skater. She was the youngest to attempt this feat of the feet.  I hadn't planned to bring her, as I worried I wouldn't be able to teach her or give ample time to anyone. But she overheard and asked, "Can I come Mom?" Something about her brown eyes, sweet smile and absolute soft voice makes it impossible for me to ever put my foot down.  She asks. I have to say yes even if the practical animal in me says, "What, are you mad woman?"

She loved loved loved it.  We walked around the rink at least 17 times.  My legs and back were crushed but she never wanted to leave.  Maybe being number 8 of 10, this was one on one like she almost never gets. Maybe she just loved skating, maybe it was being part of the "big kid crowd," after all, kindergartners hanging with the 5th, 3rd and 1st Grader felt pretty glamorous.  She wasn't lumped with the babies and she could do this...with Mom acting as a rail guard.  

It was admittedly dull for a time, dodging falling skaters, waiting with the five year old clinging to me while people took photos, my legs ached and the skates were heavy.  Part of me wanted to get a lap or two in myself, to feel that rush of gliding I'd once upon a time known, but  but her eyes still sparkled with every moment, she wasn't bored clinging to the side and me, she didn't want to stop so we didn't.   My speed remained somewhere between dial up and a slug on the ice.  But somewhere in that swirl of ice and skating, I felt a different tug of the sense of time, that this was fragile sacred time, Advent time.   Blessed time seized from the every day.  Her eyes shined.  We stayed until her feet and mine ached.

You can tell me "Sherry, you just took them skating."  but walking back to the parking lot, with nary a complaint, and a not really meant solid chorus of "Can we get pizza? Can we get McDonald's" followed by much more heart felt "That was the coolest thing I've ever done in my entire life!" and "When can we go again?" confirmed it. 

And I know what they're getting under the Christmas tree now...and me too.


Helene said...

Beautiful -- and I'm so glad they enjoyed it so much.

Anonymous said...

And I have a smile on my face...I too remember skating in over-sized skates that a client had given in payment to my lawyer Dad. It was so much fun, I never wanted to give in to the fact that I had to walk home, my hands and feet were freezing, and I would have to run to be home on time. The year I received my first pair of figure skates- for Christmas-nwas magical for me. Now I could freeze in skates that fit! Mom

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