Skating Day

On Wednesdays, Gal Smiley has skating after school.

It’s just for an hour but going to this lesson takes up my whole day. By the time we get home from the rink, the kids are hungry and there’s no time to cook, so I make dinner just after breakfast while all three kids are at school.

After picking up Little Miss Sunshine from kindergarten, we spend the afternoon packing for skating – one bag of skates, snowpants, hats, and mitts; one bag of colouring books, stickers, toys, and snacks for the Captain and the Little Miss. I fill the car with winter boots and coats for those of us who will be spectating.

I wish I could bring blankets too, because the rink is freezing, but it’s just too much cargo to schlep, even with all the kids helping. I’m a cold person and I spend the entire lesson shivering in the stands. It’s very un-Canadian of me to say that, isn’t it?

I don’t know how the other parents do it. This week, the mom next to me had bare feet in sandals, nothing but a trench coat on her back. On the other side, a group of parents chatted merrily wearing only spring-weight jackets, and farther down, one dad was wearing shorts. SHORTS.

Meanwhile I huddle in my heavy coat, mitts, scarf, hat, boots, and as many children as I can convince to pile on top of me for warmth, growing bitchier and bitchier by the minute. The fifty minute lesson feels like an excursion to the South Pole. How do hockey parents stand it? They must have secrets. TELL ME THE SECRETS.

Every Wednesday I wake up in dread. It’s Wednesday, I think. Rush to cook. Rush to pack. Rush to schlep. Freeze ass off. Rush home. Rush to squeeze in homework and baths and bedtime.

But it’s all worth it for that one moment when Gal Smiley steps out on the ice. Face shining with joy, determination, and concentration.

Oh, she’s down as much as she’s up, make no mistake. But she loves it. She comes off the ice with eyes gleaming, asking me if I saw her do this, then that, then this again. Cheeks pink, hair matted with sweat, chattier than at any other time with the thrill of it all.

It’s enough to warm a poor mother’s…heart.

18 thoughts on “Skating Day

  1. I hear ya, Lynn! Here’s some handy Candian ice rink hints. Handwarmers. Sure you can buy the little pack ones at CT but you could also microwave a potato and have warm hands AND dinner ready at once. Also, just keep the car packed to go. Great for skating lessons and for any other winterish spontaneous thing that might come up. You ARE awesome for braving the elements for your girl.

  2. Leave more of the winter gear at home and take one bag packed with a blanket, mittens and a spare toque. Make yourself a thermos of something hot (hot chocolate, cocoa, tea) and put on long underwear.

    After years in rinks my mom always said it was sitting ON a blanket and not letting your butt get cold that is the biggest help. She used to take us to rinks out west in towns that was an indoor rink with natural ice. The only difference between outside and in was the lack of cold.

  3. One of the many reasons I am pleased my children have never wanted to play hockey. The thought of being in a freezing rink four days a week…I can’t even think about it. GOOD LORD. Of course, I have to dress like that for soccer here. It’s ALWAYS freezing.

  4. Our son is looking forward to learning to skate. He’s only 2.5 right now and I’m not too sure he’ll be able to do much this year, but he’s so keen on it that we’ve gotta try, even if informally (his mom is an ace skater and has taught figure skating). I wonder how young most parents start their kids on skating?

    Great story. I’m not quite the dad in shorts, but I can handle a chilly skating rink. 😉 You know there’s only one solution for this, right? Snuggly / Slanket!

    1. I took the Little Miss to parent-and-tot skating last year, age age 3.5. She caught on pretty well and actually made some progress – I definitely thought it was worth it. Other kids in the class were smaller and it was tougher for them, but with a parent on ice with them at all times you can really make it fun. They played a lot of games and if you’re into it, they will be too.

  5. You are a very good mother. The cold doesn’t bother me, but the seats kill my lower back and tailbone. Happily (?), Eve hates, loathes and despises skating, and one year of Canskate was quite enough for her, thank you. And I make my husband do the hockey, except when he’s off the continent, when I try to fling myself on the pity of other Dads or do it with very bad grace.

  6. Oh, this is how I feel about soccer practice. In the rain of course. All the other parents happily stand there looking fine and i feel freezing cold and stressed out about cooking dinner, etc. UGH. (But yes, he LOVES IT, so we do it. Worth it.)

  7. My father in law coached hockey for years and still when he went to watch Joe coach he had to step outside the rink a few times to warm up. Some rinks I can handle, but I freeze too.

    1. I have this one pair of super thick wool socks that Sir Monkeypants gave me for Christmas last year. I wish I had about 20 pairs just like them – they are AWESOME. I try to save them for skating day and they do make a huge difference.

      More socks is definitely going on my wish list for Christmas this year. Does that make me totally lame?

  8. I have no experience (yet) with watching skating lessons or hockey, but my #1 rule for staying warm is NO COTTON next to your skin. Non-cotton socks work wonders to keep the feet warm, even if they’re just micro-fibre dress socks, though wool is the way to go to really stay warm (I pair mine with a thin liner sock to avoid itching). A lightweight non-cotton thermal underwear shirt (either short or longsleeved) layered under whatever top you’re wearing works wonders too to keep your core temperature up.

  9. You need a cushion for your derriere! I wasn’t without it during my entire 15 year tenure as a hockey mom! I’ll see if I still have it… and it’s fashionably cammo, too, BONUS!

  10. LOL! I hear ya! I am perma-cold, so sitting around an ice rink wouldn’t please me too much either! But Teena in Toronto does have a good idea bout hot chocolate!

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