My husband Sam was born and raised in Santa Cruz, California, which meant he grew up doing the obligatory California-y activities, boogie boarding, skateboarding, and dreaming of being a Banana Slug. When he moved to Boulder, his trusty skateboard was his primary means of transportation. Fast forward 15 years, and between shuttling at least one of our three kids to--name your poison--school, soccer practice, birthday parties, friend's houses, etc etc etc, and also getting to work with a trunk full of art supplies, there simply isn't much room in his life for skating.
Our boys have taken up riding scooters, so naturally one of my newer haunts is the local skate park. The dynamic there is either (pause while I search for the hip skater term...) totally rad (is that what the kids are saying these days??), or...really uncomfortable. It seems that between the ages of 18-25, boys turn into, well, assholes. And I don't necessarily want to be that mom that walks over super momified, using momtastic language and pushing my momerific values on these boys that are so painfully oozing testosterone and angst...but one of these days it's bound to happen.
The first time we were there, an early twenty-something dickhead on a bike rode by and intentionally jabbed his handlebars into Alex, who was innocently scooting around. This loser made a point of stating loudly that he did it on purpose, and went on to spout a litany of foul words while frothing at the mouth about the hassle of all the young kids. Um, Mr. I'm So Inadequate I Need To Assert Myself Against a Five-Year Old? The skate park is adjacent to an elementary school. Here's an idea--if you want a more adult scene, go to the downtown skate park, not the one in the Desperate Housewifey suburb next to the school that houses children that eat snack and have recess. What kind of a jerk would purposely intimidate this little kid? Lucky for him, he left after his diatribe, because he was about to get an earful from me. All kids have to start somewhere, and I am eternally grateful for those days at the skate park where the older guys take the younger ones under their wing, giving them tips on how to drop in the bowl, yelling out words of praise and tapping their boards on the ground to celebrate when a kid nails something for the first time.
We hit the skate park jackpot earlier this evening, when our boys needed to blow off a little energy before dinner. A few other guys about Sam's age showed up, and being well past the outer age of jerkiness, they all had such a positive attitude and mentored the younger kids the whole time. Sam enjoyed himself, dusting off his skateboard that carried him everywhere in his youth and dropping right in the bowl.
Kenyon kept himself busy doing his own 'tricks' and 'accidentally' tossing his shoes into the bowl so he had a reason to go in and retrieve them.
My boys are well aware when the intimidation cloud hangs over the park--they stay a little closer to me and are more wary of trying out new moves. I always make a point of talking about the vibe there, partly because I desperately want them to avoid turning into assholes, even if it's just a phase. I also recognize that my days of hanging out at the skate park with them are numbered--I am well aware no teenager would tolerate having his mom there--so this is my only time to help instill some awareness of the asshole factor, and how it's not cool to act like that. The chances are slim, but I would love it if, in ten years, one of the boys came home and mentioned that he helped a little kid drop in for the first time.
It was a perfect fall evening, crisp and cool, and by the time we walked through our front door we were more than ready to dig into the potato cheddar soup I had made for dinner. Outside, the falling leaves swirled and our spider web and skeleton Halloween decorations swayed against the breeze. Bubble baths were had, footie pajamas were put on, stories were read, and goodnight kisses were given.
I don't want teenagers just yet. 7.5, almost 6, and 2.5 are pretty sweet numbers to me right now.