Saturday, December 27, 2008


I took the girls roller skating today. Steffi usually roller skates, while Jessica plays games. Stef is a very good skater, and I love watching her weave in between the bad skaters flopping around and the fast skaters using everyone else as an obstacle course. For the first time, I got skates for Jess and myself, images of the three of us gliding around the rink dancing (skating?) in my head.

I'm not sure why I thought roller skating was like riding a bicycle. After two minutes of wobbling like a poorly constructed Sean Hannity argument, I decided I'd be better off helping Jessica if I could stay upright. Jess was using the one foot rule for skating novices, meaning she fell at least once for every 12 inches she tried to move forward. She ditched the skates for skeeball. It took her about 8 minutes to spend $10, winning a few tickets that were quickly exchanged for a paper Chinese fan that broke when she opened it.

It dawned on me that maybe roller skating was a bad idea. I just spent $40 in 15 minutes, Jesse was bored, waving a broken Chinese fan and begging for more money, and I was frustrated that merely standing up on skates caused back spasms.

I decided to ask one of those questions that you know from parental experience has very little chance of succeeding. "Jess," I started, "why don't you put your skates on? Steffi really wants to skate with you." She replied, "Okay." You could have knocked me over with a feather, except I was no longer wearing the roller skates.

I was impressed with Jessica's determination. She grabbed the walls. She grabbed Steffi. She fell. Repeatedly. But she continued to make her way around the rink, each time a little bit better. When I asked if she wanted to leave she said no way. When it was announced that the roller rink was closing, she was the last skater on the floor, still using the walls to help her but moving a little faster. I was equally impressed with Steffi, who could have been angry that her little sister often slowed her down, constantly pulled her down, and generally kept her from skating like she normally does. But Steffi was a great help, and never once complained.

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