Saturday was big in our family as it was the first day for Ty’s ice skating lessons. I’ve been wanting to sign Ty up for these for a long time but had never gotten around to it until February. Since the boys were toddlers I’ve thought that ice skating would be a great activity for them to learn here in the soggy Northwest. It can be a great indoor activity for one of our many rainy days and it’s always good to learn new skills – just for the sake of learning.
But I have to confess I do have a slightly ulterior motive: I would rather be a hockey dad than a soccer dad. Now this might seem odd given I’ve never played a game of hockey in my life – and I’m only a casual NHL fan during the regular season. But the sport has actually always fascinated me – even growing up in the sunny Bay Area. I remember asking my mom a few times if I could play hockey as a kid (there was a classmate in elementary school who played and it always sounded like fun) but alas, mom said it was too violent (and I think secretly she had no desire to drive me to 5:30 a.m. practices at Sun Valley Mall in Concord). So now I have an opportunity live through my kids and try to expose them to something I wish I had the opportunity to do when I was young.
Anyway, so I’ve had this idea in my mind but wasn’t really motivated to act on it until I met a guy at a networking event nearly two years ago. We were talking about parenting, kids, etc. and he mentioned that his three sons all played junior hockey in the area. I was naturally interested in learning more so I started asking questions about logistics, games, etc. He looked at me and said that if there was one piece of advice he’d give all dads in the area, it was to get their sons into hockey as young as possible. I asked why and he casually explained, “I would much rather spend my time watching my kids playing a sport that was always indoors than have to stand outside in 40-degree pouring rain in a muddy field every weekend.” Genius.
Now honestly, if Ty or Stone show an interest in playing soccer, then of course I’ll haul them out there and go through the drill. But I’m hoping I can circumvent that whole process by filling their seasons full of sports and activities that are non-soccer related. Now I’m not totally anti-soccer (even though I know it does sound that way). I’ve grown to appreciate the sport much more over the years after learning about it from European friends and attending World Cup and other high-level matches. And even though I’ve certainly adjusted to Northwest winters, I would just rather spend my time in a covered ice arena with my laptop and wi-fi watching my kids than standing outside in pouring rain (or snow). It’s all about preferences.
But I’ve digressed mightily. So Saturday was Ty’s first lesson and we arrive 30 minutes early as instructed when I signed him up. Ty was nervous initially and kept saying he didn’t want to go or take lessons during our drive to the arena. But once we got in and he was able to see other kids on the ice taking lessons and skating around, his mood changed and he was excited. I was clearly a novice dad and parent in this whole exercise. While Renee hung out with Stone, I had to take Ty to get his ice skates and then lace him up. Well, I did OK as far as getting the right size skates for Ty but I failed miserably lacing them up. I just laced them up loosely and didn’t think much about it. But poor Ty couldn’t stand up once he was on the ice because the laces weren’t tied properly. I happened to be wandering around with Stone at the beginning of the lesson so Renee got mildly scolded by the instructor as she had to lace his skates back up properly.
Another fail on my part was forgetting to bring gloves for Ty. Yeah I know, very lame. He was the only kid out there with no gloves. So when he fell down he had to use his bare hands to push himself back up from the ice. So give Daddy a “D” in ice skating preparation and execution. Now of course one would think that Ty’s mommy would have thought of these things too (given she grew up in the frozen tundra of Wisconsin, where ice skating is a birthright), but that’s another matter. I take full responsibility since these ice skating lessons were my idea.
Since this was the first time on ice skates for Ty and his six other classmates, the instruction was very basic. They spent time getting use to standing and feeling the ice skates below them, and then trying to march/walk with them on across the ice. Most ended up on their butts often, so another big emphasis was how to get up on their own. Overall Ty did pretty darn good. Most important, even though it was all a new experience for him and full of challenges, he said he had a great time and is genuinely excited for his next lesson.
We weren’t sure how Stone would react to the ice center and whole experience (given his autism) so we held off signing him up for the lessons, but he is clearly interested in skating. He was having a blast watching other skaters and kept wanting to go out on the ice himself. The center has open skating immediately following Ty’s lesson time so I think next weekend we’ll rent skates for Stone as well and will take him out during open skate time and will work on his skating there. We don’t know how he’ll respond to wearing ice skates – he has freaked out a bit in the past even switching shoes – so who knows how he’ll do with the tight skates. But I’m excited to expose him to it as well as it would be a fun activity for him to try and if he likes it we’ll be able to sign him up for future lessons as well.
David Kaufer is a fun-loving Super Dad of 5-year-old twin sons, an insane Oregon Ducks fanatic (follow him on Twitter @DavidKaufer), advocate for green/sustainability and autism issues, and connoisseur of Northwest microbrews. He and his wife Renee moved to Edmonds in 2005 to raise their family (and enjoy the gorgeous views).