Saturday, April 30, 2011

Another Day, Another Dollar (or two, or three, or...)

You may remember that just under one month ago, Sk8terdude got a new skateboard.

Yesterday it looked like this:

For those of you who don't skate (or who can't make heads or tails of this photo), you're looking at what was the edge of the board near the tail. I was hoping the board would at least last through our trip to Kona Skatepark in Florida, but it isn't even going to make it onto the plane.

Instead, Sk8terdude will be rocking this new shop deck from our buddies at Enclave Skate Shop.

Yes, we took another drive to New Haven this morning to purchase TWO for Sk8terdude to skate on immediately (thanks, Ryan, for gripping the deck and transferring the trucks and wheels from the old board) and one for the next time he needs a new board. I figure it's more money I'm spending today, but with the way gas prices are going up and up and up, at least I won't have to drive back to New Haven to replace this board once it, too, suffers irreperable harm.

Since we were already at the shop, we also picked up a new Pro-Tec helmet. Sk8terdude pointed out the other day that he was still skating in the first helmet we ever bought him - almost five years ago - and not only was it getting a little small, it was also REALLY stinky!

On the way home we stopped at Jennings Beach so he could break in the new board (that's break IN...not break). We practically had the park to ourselves (surprisingly), so Sk8terdude spent about an hour there before I begged for a lunch break. As he was taking off his knee pads, the velcro strap finally gave up the ghost. He was already skating in an unmatched pair, since he'd worn out another strap on a different knee pad earlier in the week. So we stopped around the corner at Day One Skateshop in Fairfield to pick up a new set of elbow and knee pads. After all, these have to go in our luggage on Wednesday...and if you smelled the old set you'd know why a new set was a good investment.

After lunch? More skating, of course! Sk8terdude is currently in Ridgefield for another afternoon at S.P.I.R.I.T. He phoned home a few minutes ago to tell me they will be hosting a skate contest on May 25th. (Really??? On a school day? I'll bet he got that information wrong...)

So by 2 p.m. today I had paid for two decks, a new helmet, new knee and elbow pads, lunch at McDonald's, and more gallons of gas than I want to think about at over $4 per gallon! And before the day is over, I'm guessing I'll be on the hook for his entry fee into the contest at S.P.I.R.I.T.

How old do you need to be before you can (legally) get a job in Connecticut???

Sk8terdude better start looking for a way to finance this passion of his...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Road trip plans: Kona Skate Park, Jacksonville Florida

With spring break in our rear view mirror, it's time to set our sights on the next road trip. Sk8terdude and I are heading to Jacksonville, Florida next week for our (okay, his) long-awaited trip to Kona Skate Park.

I'm not sure exactly how or when this plan was originally hatched, but somehow we went from wishing he could go there, to thinking about going there, to buying plane tickets and, now, with the trip looming, I guess I'd better book a hotel and arrange for a rental car before it's too late!

I did phone ahead to ask about the parent lounge! I'm not a big sun-worshipper, so the thought of spending three days at a Florida skatepark isn't exactly my idea of heaven. The folks at Kona promise me there's an indoor lounge (ooh - I forgot to ask if it's air conditioned!) and free wi-fi, so I'll be working (and blogging) from Jacksonville.

The skatepark opens at 1:00 p.m. during the week, so we might hit the beach in the morning, or the hotel pool (note to self: pack lots of sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses), and I'm hoping to meet up with the sister of a good friend for lunch at least once while I'm there. (Otherwise I'm doomed to three straight days of nothing but skate-talk.)

The park offers private lessons. We're planning to have Sk8terdude take one lesson when we first arrive - if for no other reason than to have someone with him who knows the park well and can show him some of the ins and outs, including skating the famous snake runs.

In the meantime, I'm soliciting advice for restaurants, activities, etc. in the area. The last time I was in Jacksonville was in 1998. At that time, the city was mostly a chain of chains: Denny's, Applebees, TGIFridays, etc. on every corner and not a lot in the way of good ethnic food. (We found the only Thai restaurant at the time - in a strip mall on Atlantic Boulevard - and loved it, but beyond that Jacksonville was a culinary wasteland.)

Suggestions??? Please feel free to comment!

And don't forget to wish for perfect weather - which for me means a little overcast, slightly cooler than normal, and a light breeze. What are my chances?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Newtown Stair Set

Sk8terdude took an early morning trip to Dickinson Memorial Park in Newtown, Connecticut, for his first-ever trip to the skatepark there. It is a beautifully sunny day here, with very gusty winds. Sk8terdad spent most of his time in the car, but stepped out long enough to grab some photos of the park, along with this video of Sk8terdude landing the stair set.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Morning at Jennings Beach

Spring Break for Sk8terdude means extra time at the skatepark. Fortunately, Sk8terdad is also on Spring Break, so the two of them spent time yesterday morning at Jennings Beach. Sk8terdude is really going to miss this skatepark over the summer...too bad we don't have a Fairfield beach pass.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sk8terdude's 180 Transfer

Yesterday was raw, cold, and rainy...but before the rain started to fall, Sk8terdude was able to squeeze in a quick hour at S.P.I.R.I.T.  Many thanks to G. for catching this move on tape.  (Can I still say tape even if it's digital?)

It's Spring Break for many of the schools here in Connecticut, so Sk8terdude is hoping for good weather.  S.P.I.R.I.T. will be opening at noon every day (weather permitting).  Keep your fingers crossed!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sk8terdude's New Skate Mentor

Sk8terdude is taking lessons from Paul Hintz and loving every minute of it.  Here's a video of Paul skating at the now-defunct Vertigo Skate Park:

Sunday, April 10, 2011

"Mom, They Said the F-word!"

Before 11 a.m. today, Sk8terdude was back at Jennings Beach Skate Park.  It was cool and overcast, but that didn't keep the ten or so diehard skaters from their early morning session.  He had a fabulous time.  Many thanks to the two older skaters who told him he needed to get up more speed if he wanted to olley the box at the top of the ramp closer to the road side of the park.  By the end of our two hours there he had landed it more than once.

At some point I noticed a mom on the far side of the park.  She was standing by the fence with a young boy who appeared to be skating for the first time.  He tried getting on and off his board once or twice.  She tried holding his hand as he rolled down the first bump in the "hump run" around the back end of the park.  After watching awhile from the car, I sent Sk8terdude over to offer some help.

Together they walked back to where I was standing and we started chatting.  She started by saying that she needed to go buy her son knee and elbow pads (and he chimed in and said he needed "butt pads").  I saw that his helmet was too loose and suggested she adjust it to fit him.  Sk8terdude loosened his trucks (they were so tight that even Sk8terdude couldn't stay on his board), then showed him a spot in the park where there was a gentle slope so he could try just rolling down that section of the park until he got a better sense of balance.  Then Sk8terdude dropped into the bowl and left him to practice.

After a few tries, her son came back over to where we were waiting.  Referring to a group of teenagers who were skating together, he exclaimed in not-quite-a-stage-whisper, "Mom, they said the F-word!"

Over his helmet, the other mom and I exchanged an amused glance.

If you've been reading this blog regularly, you may recall that recently I was interviewed for an article about being the parent of a kid who skateboards, BMX bikes, etc.  One of the questions that the reporter asked was, "Are there any negative stereotypes that your son has encountered being involved in skateboarding?"  This f-word moment at Jennings Beach reminded me of her question.

People who hear that I have a skateboarding son sometimes ask me if I worry about "bad influences" at the skatepark.  And the truth is, I do sometimes worry about the image skateboarding has with the general public, how much that image reflects what really goes on at skateparks, and whether or not Sk8terdude is in any real danger hanging out there.  But "bad influences" are everywhere...if you're looking for them.  I hope that as parents, Sk8terdad and I have done our jobs and given our children a solid foundation and set of values so that they are not so easily influenced - at the skatepark, at school, at camp, and any other place where "bad influences" might exist.

And I have to admit, long before Sk8terdude ever set foot in a skatepark, he learned the f-word from OlderBrother who, in turn, learned it (in first grade, no less) from a classmate who lives down the street.

Where did the neighbor - also six years old at the time - learn the word?  From his mother!  So much for scary places with "bad influences."

I once heard a psychologist joke (or not joke), "If it isn't one thing, it's the mother."

I guess in this case, that was more than true!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sk8terdude at S.P.I.R.I.T.

Thanks to "Tall Paul" for shooting this video of Sk8terdude (and for the great laugh at the end!)

Monday, April 4, 2011


It was a mostly sunny weekend here in Connecticut, so Saturday and Sunday saw lots of skateboarding for Sk8terdude and his friends.  He even started out in shorts this [Sunday] afternoon (although I warned him that it was colder out than it looked).  Sure enough, by mid-afternoon he was asking me to bring long pants to the skatepark.  Normally I might have let him suffer the consequences of his decision - since it wasn't exactly frostbite weather - but I was heading back to the park anyway to pick him up midday for a quick haircut.  When I tried to snap a photo of him getting the back buzzed short, suggesting that I might post it here, he made it quite clear that I did not have his permission to do so.  I find it funny, actually, that he had such a vehement reaction to the idea of a back-of-the-head-haircut-photo since, on the way back to the park, he mentioned that his friends had taken some great photos and video of him today if I wanted to post those.

Skateboarding videos:  in
Haircutting photos:  out

A few weeks ago I posted a bunch of questions, some of which were answered by Tony on the Enclave Skate Shop (New Haven) blog (with installment 2 and more answers to follow soon).  This week the tables were turned when I had a chance to answer questions for a reporter who is writing an article about skateboarding, BMX biking, and parenting kids who participate in those sports.

She asked

[Okay.  This was where I stopped writing last night so we could go to dinner.  Now it's Monday morning.  OlderBrother has already left for school.  I have six minutes in between getting breakfast for Sk8terdude and getting into the shower.  Think I can finish????]

She asked questions geared mostly toward helping parents whose children were just starting out with skateboarding and BMX biking, and one of the questions really got me thinking:  "What lessons has your child learned from skateboarding that go beyond the actual sport?"

I think that skaterboarding has taught Sk8terdude the value of perseverence.  There's something about trying a trick over and over and over again and then finally nailing it that really drives home the "practice makes perfect" lesson in a very tangible way.  I'm not saying kids don't learn this in other sports, but there is a difference, in my opinion, between the return on investment in individual sports versus team sports (which are also important and also teach valuable lessons....) in terms of how it feels.

Sk8terdude and OlderBrother both play basketball.  Particularly for OlderBrother, whose team has had the best record two years running in our local league, there have been lessons learned about practice, about teamwork, about putting the good of the team before the glory of the individual, etc.  And sometimes the boys work on a specific play, for example, and practice it over and over, and then, when the play works during a game, they can see that their hard work paid off.  But I don't think they internalize personal success in the same way they do from their individual accomplishments.

Sk8terdude can see his skateboarding progress in very measurable ways.  For example, he knows that in the beginning he wasn't able to ollie but now he can.  And he went from being able to skate down the big launch ramp at S.P.I.R.I.T. and up the quarter pipe on the other side, to being able to land at the top of the quarter pipe, to being able to catch air at the top and continue down the ramp at the other side, to being able to do a 180 at the top:  specific steps that built on one another, which he was able to tackle with a little determination and a lot of bumps and bruises.

For Sk8terdude, this has been invaluable.

[Now if only I learned this lesson at an early age, I might still be looking for the cable so I could download the video from yesterday's session at the park.  Sadly, my determination to finish this post is being thwarted by my stronger desire to take a shower before I leave the house.  So those of you looking for video will have to...well...persevere...]