With kids, trying something new can be a little scary. With special needs kids, trying something new can be downright horrifying. Will they tolerate noise? Will they be okay out of routine? Will they enjoy themselves? Will they use their manners? Will they use expected social behavior? Will they communicate their needs to us? The list goes on and on and on…However, we only truly grow when we have these new experiences and determine whether or not we like them, and whether or not we want to incorporate them into our lives.
Last Saturday Hubz had a suggestion to beat the winter doldrums. He suggested roller skating–again. Now, we had toyed around with the idea of going roller skating since last summer when Tate would try to wear our neighbor’s roller skates around the block. I had always put it off–finding something else for us to do instead. The thought of wrangling our three boys onto a rink, while all of us were wearing wheels was a bit daunting. On Saturday, though, I had run out of alternate plans and excuses. We had ZERO going on that day. We had a lot of boredom and ennui with the TV programming and being in the house together–since winter just doesn’t want to loosen its grip on our area! I hesitantly agreed to go roller skating with all three boys.
Hubz’s suggestion was met with mixed emotion. Tate and Cole were willing to try it out. Jake wasn’t too sure. We sold it to the kids as a fun-filled activity, where there were some arcade games and fun with their cousins. (Hubz asked his sister’s family to join us there..and luckily they were free!)
I started to feel overwhelmed as we waited to get into the rink. It was crowded. I think everyone in our area had a similar idea–let’s go do something active INSIDE while it was frigid OUTSIDE. And it was dark, with strobe-lights and flashing lights. And, of course, it was LOUD. Music blared from the speakers. Kids shrieked with glee–and fear. Everyone was talking over each other to try to be heard…I felt my heart rate increase, but tried to play it cool for the kids. We found Hubz’s sister and the kids. They were already in their skates.
I made my way to the counter to obtain skates for our ragtag bunch. The staff member who waited on me called me “ma’am”. Ugh. Gut punch. I felt really, really old, anyway, and then he “ma’am-ed” me. I asked for the five various sizes of skates, and he eagerly brought them to me. I noticed that they had these walker-like contraptions for beginner skaters–or skaters who might not be super coordinated once they had wheels on their feet. I asked for two.
Getting skates on three children, none of whom had ever really been skating before, was a sight. There was sighing. There was whining. There was scripting. There was reassurance being handed out like candy. “You will be fine.” was my script of choice. By the time all five of us had skates laced up and ready to go, Hubz and I had droplets of sweat on our brow. Hubz shot me a look and asked what he had been thinking. I just wryly smiled back at him.
We entered the rink with trepidation. BAM! Jake was down. BAM! Tate was down. Cole was a speed-demon with that walker- thing. Of course he fell a few times, but he got right back up and skated around the rink again. His issue was that he got bored with skating around in circles and wanted to sit down right-in-the-middle-of-the-rink….which is highly frowned upon by the teeny-bopper “refs” who rule the roost there. Oy!! (Also, did you know that you cannot wear your hipster-Vera-Bradley-mom-bag while roller skating? Yeah, me either. I spent about $1.50 putting things into that darned locker that day…)
For a little while, things seemed ok. All three boys were trying…and that gave me and Hubz a little relief. But, just as soon as we were like, “Ok, this is cool”, things started to unravel. Jake did not like it. He cried in frustration. It was too loud. Too demanding. He struggled to stay up, and he was slightly too tall for the “walker”, so his back was starting to hurt. He was done about 30 minutes into our “fun” day. To his credit, Jake did keep trying, and he listened to suggestions to try to make the experience a bit easier. However, skating was just not his thing that day.
Tate, however, loved it. He loves movement. He loves repetition. He loved going around in circles over and over and over again. He loved the breeze on his face when he went faster with Hubz. He loved the bumps of the floor beneath his feet. The constant rhythm of the wheels going round and round and round. I think he also really enjoyed the pattern of the lights that were flashing about us. He lasted the longest of our 3, going around a few times with just Hubz, as I sat with our two other boys who were even over the arcade portion of the visit.
Cole was just lazy. He did his laps around the rink. When nothing super exciting like ninja-skaters or Jedi-knights came out of the woodwork, I think he was bored. “This is it?!” He wanted to play chase games with his cousin…and he knew that he would be much faster on foot than on those stinkin’ skates.
We wrapped it up after about an hour. The kids were done, and Hubz, his sister, brother-in-law, and I were suffering from throbbing ears and headaches. (Seriously, what the heck was with the strobe lights and fog machines and concert-noise-level music?! Ohhh…that’s why that kid “ma’am”-ed me….)
As much as I didn’t want to go, I’m glad that I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and tried something new. We never know what an experience will hold unless we try….and we learned that skating does not hold much allure for at least one of our children. The other two may happily go again in the future…and we know that Tate will filter out the unfavorable parts because he loves the motion and repetition.
**On a side note, if you’ve been to a roller rink on a Saturday afternoon in February, have you ever noticed that some of the adults there are stuck in a time warp? I was all, wow, the 80’s never left…the big hair, the moves, some of the music, the outfits. It was like I was 12 again…..