Wheels of Fortune

The inch-long black-stamped “5” has nearly washed off the back of my hand. The memories are fading as well, because I didn’t trust my rusty skating skills enough to keep my phone in my back pocket–unconvinced it would have been safe from backside collisions with the very hardwood floor.

It was Mother-Daughter day for our little band of six girls, and off we headed for a Sunday afternoon at Skateland. Oh, Skateland. A place with a fresh {if not garish} set of stripes painted along one cinderblock wall. A place where the video games have certainly been updated, too. But the rest? Let’s just say that 36 years later the rest looks so exactly the same as it did when I was a little girl that I decided not to venture into the bathroom.

Kelli had given us a pre-skate assignment: each girl {young and old} needed to pick a favorite song. {Tainted love? Master and servant? Red, red wine?} A trip down memory lane, turns out, is not to be the best place to shop for songs. I finally settled on Wide Open Spaces. A worthy anthem for all ages of listeners. The list was handed over to the D.J. {Some were played. Most not. Apparently a lot of songs are requested between 3 and 5 p.m.}

I slid my feet into skates still warm from the last renter. Eewh. 

Eleanor’s skating has improved to the point that I am no longer the human traffic barrier protecting her in the slow lane from certain topples. So I watched her skate with her friends. We held hands during the couples skates. And she asked other mothers to partner her as well. Which meant I completed a few laps on my own. Grown woman, hidden girl. {silently humming that mental soundtrack from the 80’s}. Around and around the rink we went, my muscles lopsidedly wishing they would call a halt and have us skate the other direction.

The D.J., who doubles as the recess monitor {“slow down there….give me a thumbs up if everyone in that pile-up is okay…boy in the grey striped shirt, skate in the right direction”}, cleared the floor.

First, she announced the fast skates. A time to let it fly. Ego, skill and oblivion all flung themselves around the rink.

Then, the races.

Enough tweens entered the race that there were two heats for the 9-12 year old girls. One ringer was so good and well known, the D.J. actually asked her to skate up in age group.

Then time for the boys.

The boys.


One lone boy. Followed by two men.

Where were the others? The ones who squirreled around the rink crashing into one another with wild abandon? There they were. Sitting on the sides. Watching.

The little guy was given a massive head start. After falling every few feet {he really did look like a charming baby giraffe on skates} he abandoned halfway through the race.

Eleanor watched the whole thing with wide eyes. Fairness. Bravery. Kindness. Skill. And what does it mean to win? We were our own color commentary lap by lap.

After it was all over, the tears. “I wish I would have raced.”

‘I wish I would’ is often a theme for us. Both of our children have a “slow to warm up” component to their temperaments. They watch, observe, see others in action before they are ready to begin. And often, by the time they are ready, the action has ended.

Redemption arrived with the announcement of a new game. But I could see her panic as she blurted out “but I don’t know the rules!” “That’s okay, let’s go figure it out”.

Turns out, there was only one. The rule? Go stand on a number between 1 and 100.

She stood.

“Let’s start with lucky number seven!” Boomed the D.J. Eleanor’s face registered her shocked success.

Eleanor won. She wasn’t the fastest or the most skilled. But she beat her own hesitation. And won a free drink at the snack counter. Water in a Styrofoam cup has never been a more cherished prize.

The ink and my thoughts linger. What allows us to go fast? Giving a strong tail-wind to our dreams? What slows us down? Tangles our feet? Keeps us rooted to the benches along the sidelines?

Who are we in the partnering of our children? When have you nudged them in just the right way? When have you pushed too hard? Tripped them up? Stopped them in their tracks? Tell me your stories. We’ll skate parenthood together. Keep me posted.

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