Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Right Tools for the Job...

Banana and I have had our little adventure with skating going for about three and a half years now. It started with a trip to Charlottesville with Banana Mére and part of an afternoon spent at the wonderful skating rink on the downtown mall. (Pictured at right in a trip this past fall.)

With the exception of an afternoon skating with friends, there was a hiatus for about two years after that until Santa magically brought her a pair of skates for Christmas a year ago. It was Santa's attempt to get Banana and me doing activities together and also give her a sport she could begin to work toward—one that would jive well with her overall balance and coordination.

Having her own skates rather than rentals helped build some confidence on subsequent skating trips. But as with many things, we paused for several months through the summer. Until the trip to Charlottesville. When we got there, I worried that her skates might be a little too small, but she assured me they were fine. For the next hour, I wondered why she was falling so much, and why she seemed to tire of it so quickly. Until she took her skates off. She had practically pulled a Cinderella's-sister trying to get the too-small skates on her feet.

After Christmas this winter, we took her skates to the sporting goods store and traded them in for a new-used pair that fit her. This pair lasted for two trips to the rink. The first was with friends and their daughter; the second trip I took a spill and we ended up forgetting her skates in the rush of things. As it turns out, this may have been a blessing.

We went skating once on rentals, and it was an awful experience. The blades were bad and Banana was losing her confidence. On the bright side, we figured out that she needed to bump up another size, AND I happened across a pair in her size on Craigslist. The skates I picked up were Gams, which retailed for almost five times the retail of the skates we'd had. The difference in construction, from the padding in the ankles to the quality of blade was obvious. I did not, however, tell Banana about this before we tested the skates. Still, we hit the ice, and in no time she was skating better than she ever had. She was gliding and gaining enough control and enough of a cut to make some decent moves on the ice. It seems that having the right tools for the job made the difference.

This leaves me with a quandary, however... I'm leery of pushing lessons and competition for reasons of money and time. (Not to mention the fact that splurging on the sport will necessitate me getting a pair of skates too.) By the same token, I also see a distressing lack of discipline in Banana — as her teacher put it today, she often does the minimum amount of work necessary. If I can find one thing that she will really latch onto and push herself to do as well as she can, my hope is that the discipline and drive will spread out to other areas.