The Little Prince has decided to become a skateboarding punk. If you listen carefully you can hear the "sproing!" of each hair on my head turning grey.
This would be the same Little Prince who inherited my lack of coordination and grace. The same stubborn little boy who has decided he doesn't want to learn how to ride his bike because "balancing is too hard."
Youth, cuteness and big, brown eyes have a way of wearing down even the most nervous of mothers. And so, last week while the Little Princess was learning to be an astrophysicist at College for Kids, the Prince was learning to be a skateboarder at the Muscatine skate park.
Muscatine has it's share of drawbacks, but they have great parks and playgrounds. The skate park is no exception -- clean, well maintained, and completely empty at 9 a.m. To paraphrase Dickens, it was the best of parks, it was the worst of parks; it was a young boy's dream, it was a mother's nightmare.
The worst of it: there was a coffee shop right across the street. A drive-thru coffee shop. My idea of heaven on earth. But (!) this was during the Iowa Late-June Heat and Humidity Wave. Temperatures were in the mid-80s by 9 a.m. Sweat was rolling down my sides as I sat in the shade of the half-pipe watching the Little Prince. A bath in hot coffee would have been cooler. Drinking hot coffee seemed torturous, sort of like the Devil serving coffee in the third ring of hell.
It didn't take the Little Prince long to figure out skateboarding on a flat surface is hard work and not much fun. He was really looking forward to doing X-Game style tricks. He had researched his moves by watching endless You-Tube videos and playing a multitude of on-line games. In his mind this more than prepared him to master the half-pipe. An evil, mean, little part of me thought the skate park might provide a wallop of reality up-side the head. I just hoped it wouldn't be a very hard wallop.
In fact, there wasn't a wallop at all. His sister might have been the one at "college," but the Little Prince is no dummy. All it took was rolling backward down the bottom of a ramp to make him realize doing skateboard tricks is harder than it looks.
If you are standing up, that is.
Stubborn-streak firmly in place, the Little Prince quickly adapted and spent his time "butt boarding" or sitting on the skateboard. In no time at all he went from tipping cautiously over the top of the ramp to sailing down the ramp and zipping across the court -- a blur of helmet, pads and smile.
A big, big smile.
While the Little Prince was learning to skateboard (sort of), I was learning the lingo (sort of). Some of the definitions on the web were a little incomplete, so I've fixed them:
Quarter pipe: A ramp used in extreme sports to allow the rider to break bones quickly and efficiently.
Half-pipe: Two quarter pipes facing each other across a flat transition, allowing riders to break bones coming and going.
Grind rail: A square or round rail or bar used for performing tricks, featured prominently in videos of riders clutching their genitals.
Banked wedge: A small ramp which lures its victims by looking harmless, proving the old saying "the smaller they are, the harder you fall."
The Little Prince used his new vocabulary this way:
"Mom! Watch me fly down the arm breaker totally out of control! Then I'll slide across the elbow skinner and over to the skull cracker. You have 9-1-1 on speed dial, right? Thanks for bringing me here, Mom. You're the greatest."
At least I think that's what he said. It's hard to hear when you're blinded by the smiles.