I have always loved seeing a group of kids out and about on their own steam riding skateboards. It always brings a smile to my face when I see that they have organized a video shoot and sometimes even set up their own obstacle course to tackle for a few hours. In a time when kids don't always have the same freedom to roam that we seemed to, these scenes make me feel happy that they are experiencing independence.
I know from personal experience that you just don't pick up a skateboard and start gliding gracefully through the neighborhood with your friends. I tried that once while holding onto a rope while one of my sisters pulled me on her bike. We took a wide turn and in order to avoid hitting a parked car I took a spectacular tumble from my skateboard and broke my arm. That was the end of my skateboarding days. I had more luck with traditional roller skates, eight wheels and not four being more my forte.
Since I have two boys, and would love for them to be able to meet up with their friends, skateboards in tow, and enjoy this form of freedom and camaraderie, I knew that Cole, 10, needed a skateboard refresher course and Donovan, 6, needed to get started. So I signed them up for a weeklong skateboarding course at SK-8 Cary.
As they got into the car after each day it was obvious to me that they were getting so much more out of the camp than just some great skateboarding skills. After the first day, Donovan kept repeating that “I have the confidence Mom, so I just did it.” The word “confidence” has kept popping up all week and it is cute to hear him repeating this to himself as a little mantra to try new skateboarding skills and to challenge himself.
After the second day, Cole came home with a couple of bruises and scrapes, which is to be expected if you are actually learning how to skateboard. He requested sweatpants instead of shorts as a pre-emptive move and kept going back each morning with a smile on his face, feeling a bit more in control as the week progressed.
On the third day, he came home with a real shiner on his thigh, proud of the drop-in attempt that preceded it. He then shared with me that when they fall the instructors take a look, assess and acknowledge what has happened, and then come out with a word of encouragement and always seal it with “give me a fist bump, bro!” These few words made it all better. They knew the coaches had been there themselves. If an ice pack, band-aid or other first aid was required, it was given, but these simple words let them know that the coaches were on their side and there for them. “Give me a fist bump, bro!” is our new favorite saying in our house.
This morning I heard Donovan bantering back and forth with friends he had over: “I'm taller than you,” Donovan stated. “Well, I’m stronger than you” his friend replied. “I can skateboard, you guys should go to skateboard camp.” With that final flourish, Donovan ended the conversation. Seems that skateboard skills really do give you that little bit of extra street cred that is hard to argue with.
I was very impressed with the whole set-up. The boys are wearing their helmets and carrying their skateboards with them everywhere. I look forward to the days when they are gliding more gracefully through the neighborhood on their skateboards than I did.