Tuesday, September 25, 2012

...Or Maybe Not...

With great anticipation, Sk8terdude went straight to S.P.I.R.I.T. after school yesterday.  The skatepark was open, as promised, but parts of the park were still off-limits, including the new quarter-bowl and the new element added to the side of one of the ramps.  Rumor has it that they'll be open at the end of the week.

In the meantime, here are some photos to whet your appetite, plus one of the melted vending machines, just because.  And, good news, all of the ramps have new concrete leads, replacing the macadam transfers that were there before, making for a much smoother ride throughout the park.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Back in Business

It's been a spotty return to skateboarding for Sk8terdude, but this time the obstacles have not involved trips to the orthopedist.

Just days after returning from camp, Sk8terdude woke up one morning to the news that our local skatepark was closed due to an overnight fire.  The shack had burned to the ground and the vending machines melted but the ramps, etc. seemed perfectly fine.  Nonetheless, the town decided the skatepark would be temporarily closed.

Three weeks ago they reopened (hooray)...and then last week they were temporarily halved by yellow caution tape as workers arrived to build a quarter-bowl in the back corner of the park.  Yesterday we pulled into the parking lot only to be told the park would remain closed for at least one extra day to let the concrete cure (apparently they also resurfaced several ramps).

Sk8terdude was itching to skate but rejected my offer to head to Dickinson Park in Newtown ("It's too small!"), instead begging to be allowed to skate some street spots for the first time ever.  I admit to being torn.  While I don't really want to encourage him to skate where he isn't supposed to (for example, at one of the local schools), I didn't want to put up with his complaining all afternoon if he didn't get to skate.

So I caved.

I know....bad Mommy.  Allowing him to break the rules AND standing by while he did it (I read a book in the car while he skated) isn't exactly sending the right message.  But I was encouraged by the fact that no fewer than eight other skaters and roller bladers showed up while we were there.  Apparently we all had the same idea, convening at the nearest easily skateable public venue.

Is it terrible of me to admit that it was fun to watch?  This was Sk8terdude's first time figuring out, for himself, what was skateable and what wasn't (yes to olleying the stair set, the curb, and the low retaining wall - no to the handrail on the ramp).  And when he landed the stair set he ran back to the car, grabbed the video camera, and took some footage of himself doing it again.

He came home happy and exhausted - a winning combination - even if it was a slightly illegal one.

LOL - From now on I suppose we'll be adding a dollar a day to his legal fund instead of the proverbial "therapy jar."

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Fear of Flying (no, not THAT one)

I'm on a plane to California.

[And the fact that I can sit on an airplane and type something and hit a button and suddenly all the wired-world can read it is something too amazing to contemplate - but that's a topic for another post.]

Sitting in the airport waiting to board, I realized that although I'm looking forward to this trip, I wasn't really looking forward to the plane ride. And that realization surprised me, because for years I travelled as often as I could. I loved the anticipation, the take-off, the opportunity (when weather and flight plans permitted) to look out the window and identify landmarks (including once, on a trip back from Richmond, my parents' street and rooftop!).

But today I was a little unsettled, as I have been every time I've boarded a plane for the last ten or more years.

I know part of my discomfort comes from 24/7 coverage (on tv and/or online) of airplane disasters. And part comes with the territory of being a parent ("what will happen to the children if..."). But I also wonder if part of this fear just comes naturally with age.

When I was younger my brother and I often went skiing with our dad. I clearly remember my brother racing down a black diamond trail without me - although we were skiing at about the same level at that point in time (not quite ready for an expert trail, I might add). And I remember thinking that it was because he was too young to know to be scared. (If memory serves...and it might not...he was no more than 7 years old at the time.)

As a child, I believe I thought growing up would mean being less afraid.  And I suppose in some ways I am less afraid of some things.  I still occasionally get butterflies in my stomach before making a presentation, for example, but I am able to draw on years of experience, take a deep breath, and settle those butterflies by remembering that the worst that will happen is I’ll make a fool of myself – and I’m too old to care about that anymore!  And growing older and becoming a parent cured me of my fear of spiders (well…maybe not cured…but at least made me pretend I wasn’t scared so I wouldn’t pass along that fear to my kids).  And I’m less afraid to try new things – at least as long as those things don’t involve my fear of heights!  (I will NEVER go bungee jumping.)

But I’m definitely more afraid of things like falling down (it HURTS to fall down at my age!), getting sick (who’s going to handle the kids’ schedules?), and, of course, flying, which is not so much a fear as jitters (read: a panic) about what would happen to the kids if something happened to me, which is all about parenting, which really is very scary…

If you’re still reading, you must be wondering what this has to do with skateboarding since, after all, this is supposed to be a skateboarding blog or, at least, a blog about being the parent of a skateboarder.  And that’s exactly where I circle back to being afraid.

I wonder if skateboarding becomes more difficult with age – not just because some skills are more easily learned by the young – but because of fear.

When he started at age 5 or so, Sk8terdude had no fear.  In fact, as a parent it was a little worrisome to watch him try bigger and bigger ramps and skate faster and faster without seeming to have a care in the world.  But he’s older now, and a little wiser about things like gravity, and it’s a lot further to the ground than it was when he was younger.

When does this start to become part of the equation for skaters or for athletes in other extreme sports?  For example, if you don’t try the megaramp before you reach a certain age, are you destined to avoid it your entire life?

Is there a point at which skateboarders stop trying to learn new tricks and just celebrate a successful session (i.e. one without injury)?  Is this the ultimate obstacle - the one that skaters need to conquer in order to be great?  Is it that they don’t ever feel the fear, or that they learn to ignore it?  As a parent, how do I teach my child not to let the fear keep him from pursuing his dreams?
I watch Sk8terdude launch himself off the ramp and up into the air over and over and over again and I can’t help but wonder whether there will come a day when he’s afraid to let himself fly.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Jinx or a Career Opportunity?

Earlier this week I received a comment on the blog from Chris at AquaCast, the company that is marketing a waterproof cast material to replace the now-discontinued Gore Pro-Cel.  On Tuesday, as I was driving Sk8terdude to camp, Chris posted a response to my reply.

Sk8terdude read the comment aloud from my iPhone:

Hopefully you won't need any casts soon and/or exhaust your supply of Gore Procel. However, I would like to send you a few rolls of AquaCast to see what you think. We can do all the testing in the world, but what really matters is the opinion of the patients and families who have the practical and extreme experience with water proof casts.

My immediate reaction was twofold - first, I wondered if it would be tempting fate to accept free casting material (although the fact that I pre-ordered the case of Pro-cel before they stopped selling it probably already jinxed us) and, second, I wondered how I could form an opinion about the casting material without actually having Sk8terdude break another bone.

But before I could say anything, Sk8terdude piped up with his own opinion.

"Mom, I have a great idea," an enthusiastic Sk8terdude exclaimed.  "I could ask Aquacast to sponsor me!"

Ah....sponsorship:  the elusive goal of all young skaters everywhere!

For those of you not in the know, many skate-related companies offer sponsorships to young skaters.  In exchange for free product (wheels, trucks, decks, shoes, even grip tape), skaters are supposed to promote the brands wherever they go.  Some companies send branded tee-shirts, stickers, and promotional material for their sponsored skaters to distribute.  Others just bargain that younger skaters will want to copy the sponsored skaters by buying the same products, etc.

I have to admit that my wallet loves the concept of Sk8terdude getting sponsored.  And I have often joked that our orthopedist's office ought to sponsor him (after all, we're practically building a college fund for the orthopedist's kids at the rate we're seeing him).

But I'm not sure how Sk8terdude thinks a sponsorship from a waterproof cast company would work...  Would he go from skatepark to skatepark, hoping someone would get hurt so he could whip out an ad for AquaCast and say something about the value of waterproof casts during recovery?  Would AquaCast design a line of skateboards advertising their products - complete with images of xrays?

Or maybe AquaCast could create a sponsorship group for all sports:  one skateboarder, one BMX biker, one lacrosse player, etc.  They could have an ad campaign with each of the athletes saying something like, "I work hard for my sport - but when I'm sidelined with an injury, I want a casting material that will work hard for me... AquaCast lets me continue my active lifestyle even while I'm recuperating."  Picture the person with cast doing some type of exercise to work a different muscle group than whatever is broken, followed by person drying off while getting out of the shower.  The voiceover says something about how sweat and showers don't ruin the cast, etc.

It's a funny image.  Or maybe it's really smart.  If skateboarding doesn't pan out for Sk8terdude, maybe he has a future career in advertising...  For now he just needs to enjoy summer camp - and not break anything while he's there!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Transferring the Gap

If you watch this video I posted of Sk8terdude back in April, you can see him"transfer the gap" at 2:23.

For those of you who don't know what that means, you will see him skate up a ramp, then ollie (jump) across the opening between the ramp and the half-pipe before he continues down the half-pipe in the opposite direction.

Here at home, this is the time of year when our entire family "transfers the gap" from the school year to summer camp.   This year, because the school year was extended ten extra days thanks to Hurricane Irene in August and the freak snowstorm in October, our "gap" was shortened to three days...and our transfer has been spectacularly less than graceful.  Full of fits and starts and sharpies and iron-on labels, it hasn't been an easy weekend.

School ended Friday for OlderBrother after a long week of exams and, technically, Sk8terdude still has school this Monday, but he won't be attending.  (Before you call the truant officer on me, it's a half-day "field day" carnival type of event - and the school charges a fee to cover part of the cost.  Not exactly a do-or-die learning experience!)  We spent Friday evening at the mall picking up the last few items on their lists, Saturday morning exchanging and/or returning what didn't fit and shopping for the things we forgot to buy or didn't find on Friday night, and Saturday afternoon labeling, creating lists, and packing...and we aren't finished.  (Oh, and did I mention laundry?)

Somehow we've also managed to squeeze in a last-minute trip to Rye Playland for some family fun and (tomorrow) a visit from grandparents, complete with belated birthday cake.

Sk8terdude will head to camp first thing Tuesday morning for 7 1/2 weeks of summer fun.  He's taking two skateboards (one to skate, one as a backup, just in case), his SPoT hat (which I hope he doesn't lose!), and this exceptionally cool, brand new iPath tee-shirt, which arrived today as a gift (full disclosure) from a family friend who works for the company.  (Many thanks, DP!)

Staying home (so they don't get ruined, and because he needs to grow into them just a little bit) are the awesome pair of iPath shoes that were also a gift.  Knowing what summer camp does for a growing boy, I'm sure they will be a perfect fit in September!
As soon as we return from driving Sk8terdude to camp we will pack OlderBrother into the car and head to the airport.  He will spend the next month in Israel traveling with a teen program.  Once he returns we will do a few loads of laundry, repack his things, and drive him up to camp (a few days late) for the second half of the summer.
Phew!  I'm already tired just thinking about it.

Sk8terdad and I are on our last climb up the end-of-school-year ramp (he still has to work a few professional days at school).  We are taking our own leap over the gap - sending OlderBrother overseas for four weeks (on a terrific program and with time to visit our extended family while he's there) and sending Sk8terdude for his first full summer at camp (instead of the half-summer he has gone in the past).

We look forward to an easy ride down the other side:  kid-free for almost all of the next 7 1/2 weeks, remembering what it was like in the beginning, before children, and looking ahead to what life might be like again someday, when they're both grown and gone.

Sk8terdude says the first time he transferred the gap he took a deep breath and hoped he wouldn't fall.

I'm feeling exactly the same way.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Casting Off

If you were paying careful attention, you might have noticed that Sk8terdude's most recent broken pinky (on his right hand) occurred one year to the day after his first broken pinky (on his left hand) during our otherwise-wonderful trip to Kona Skatepark last year.

This time, however, the orthopedist decided to sideline Sk8terdude for the duration of the cast, which made no sense to my very concrete child.  ("But he let me skate LAST YEAR...and it's exactly the same type of cast only this broken pinky isn't as bad as last time.  It's not FAIR!)

Well, it may not have been "fair" but it was the right choice.  To his credit, Sk8terdude tried advocating for himself, calling the orthopedist's office and asking for a return phone call from the doctor so he could discuss the decision, asking questions, and - more or less - accepting the response, eventually.  Many thanks to Dr. C for taking the time to phone, to have the conversation (with me, first, and then, with my permission, directly with Sk8terdude).  But, of course, Dr. C didn't have to live in our house for the weeks of no physical activity, which left us with one very cranky, bored, inventive child looking for ways to circumvent the restrictions.

Thankfully, we all survived.  The cast came off at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon and Sk8terdude made it to S.P.I.R.I.T. in time to make up one of his missed lessons later that day.

This morning the skies were overcast and the ground was wet, so we packed up and headed out to Peekskill for a day at Second Nature, where Sk8terdude is skating AND collecting on his belated (by a week) birthday present:  a new skateboard, trucks, wheels, etc.  The old set up will go to camp as his back-up board.  With seven weeks at sleepaway camp this summer, he's bound to need it sooner or later (hopefully later).

Happy Birthday, Sk8terdude!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Time Warp Tuesday

It's Time Warp Tuesday - a Bereaved and Blessed blog-hop in which writers are asked to revisit a previous post and reflect on the journey they've taken since then.  Today's topic is "mothering" and, by chance, exactly one year ago today I wrote a post about my (un)official title as the "Best Mom in the Whole World" - a title I may or may not still hold depending on which of my children you speak to in any given moment in time.

Certainly, from Sk8terdude's perspective, I've done a pretty decent job in the Sk8termom category.  We've been on several skateboarding road trips since last May, including the biggie to SkatePark of Tampa in February.  We went to the Streetleague championship last August (despite the last-minute change of date due to the impending hurricane!).  I've spent countless hours sitting in parent lounges, videotaping, editing, and posting to this blog and, for the most part, I've done it with a fairly good attitude, considering the fact that in a million years I never would have anticipated being the mom of a skateboarder.

But we've also had some not-so-great moments this year, including Sk8terdude's latest trip to the orthopedist yesterday afternoon for what turns out to be yet another broken bone...in the pinky of his right hand.

Don't ask me how many bones he's already broken, because I've truly lost count.  (For those of you considering letting your kids skateboard, the non-skateboarding injuries still outnumber the skateboarding ones, but not by much...).  So after years of people cracking jokes about bubble-wrapping him for safety, I'm starting to wonder:  am I being the best mom by continuing to support his love of skateboarding?  Or would I really earn the "best mom" title by putting my foot down and forcing him to give up his passion?

With Mother's Day in plain sight, and with a look back at the last 12 months, I have to wonder what's really in his best interest long-term.

It was downright embarrassing to show up at the orthopedist's office yesterday.  And I haven't called either set of grandparents to tell them because, honestly, I don't want to hear their reactions.  (I won't be able to hide for long.  My in-laws will be arriving in two weeks for a short visit - and Sk8terdude will still have a purple cast.  My guess is they will notice!)

In preparation for a workshop I'll be running in June, I recently asked a group of parents to tell me what keeps them up at night.  One mom said she worried that she would be "blinded by love and not see something right in front of [her] eyes that would prevent the expected outcome of raising happy, confident, compassionate, and wise children."

Now I'm not sleeping at night, either...but maybe that up-all-night-worrying is the essence of motherhood.