Friday, May 14, 2010

Flashback Friday

Writing a newspaper column as a certain impermanence to it. Sure, occasionally someone may cut out an excerpt and post it on their fridge--but for the most part, my work is read today, gone tomorrow. And I'm okay with that. Especially because I've kept every column I've written in the last five years (even the ones that sucked) in a tidy little file on my hard drive.

It's fun to pull the olds one out once in awhile and dust them off. Here's a Jen's World that ran in July 2007. Enjoy! And have a great weekend!

* * *

Last week at dinner, my boys — sons Christian and Bergen and husband Jay — were planning the next morning’s outing to the Silver Lake Skate Park.

“I think I’ll join you,” I say, to their surprise.

“Really?” says my husband. He knows Saturday mornings are my work time — which is precisely why he takes the boys to the skate park. I decide it’s time to see what I’m missing.

“It’ll be fun,” I say. “Maybe you could teach me some tips tonight, Christian.” (By “some tips,” I mean, of course, “how to ride a skateboard.”)

So after dinner Christian and I head to the training grounds — i.e. the driveway — where my eight-year-old puts on his most serious teacher face.

“The first thing I want you to do,” he says, “is learn this trick.” And then he deftly flips his upside-down skateboard and lands on it in a single motion.

“Don’t you think I should learn to ride it first?” I ask.

“No,” Christian says confidently. “This isn’t hard.”

So I practice the skills Christian deems necessary. I learn to flip the board and land squarely on its top. I learn to rock like a teeter-totter with my feet on either end of the board. Thirty minutes later, I can even lift the nose of the board to pivot in circles. All of this is possible… as long as I’m on the grass.

But I can’t ride down the sidewalk without falling off. Christian assures me this is OK.

Bright and early the next morning, we have the skate park to ourselves. I’m relieved to see that I won’t have to face the pity stares of the 11-year-olds who wonder why someone’s mom is trying to do an ollie.

Five-year-old Bergen rides his training-wheeled bike up and down the ramps. Christian practices his turns. Jay impresses his girl by popping wheelies. (“Wheelies?” There must be a new vernacular for this, but I’m not cool enough to know it.)

I practice moving forward. It looks easy enough. Stand on the board and push off, right? Not so much.

Christian tries to help. “Soft, like you’re holding a teddy bear,” he coaxes.

I have no idea what he means, but I nod and say, “OK” with the same seriousness with which he offers the advice.

When moving forward proves too difficult, I entertain myself with my “turning in circles” trick. Feeling confident with my skater grrrl move, I decide to show off for my husband. “Watch this!” I yell. I stand on the board, turn it once, twice, three times before it flies out from under me and I land on my ass.

I know there’s a certain stigma attached to skateboarders, but I’m here to tell you that skateboarding is a workout. It’s a challenge. Even with my limited repertoire, it’s obvious it’s no sluffer’s pastime. No wonder my children love to watch the “big kids” do their tricks — and try to emulate them they’re alone and have the freedom to fail.

When we leave, I entertain dreams of getting my own skateboard and practicing at home.
“Maybe we should build a turnpike!” I say excitedly as we load up our boards and bikes.

“It’s a halfpipe, Mom,” said Christian in a way that tells me that if he were any older, he’d be rolling his eyes.

But he’s eight. And so I’m still cool just for trying — which is why he’s already invited me along for next weekend, too. And it’s why I’m going to go.

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