My boys had their first day of skateboarding camp this morning.
They’ve not had much instruction or experience with their new skateboards, so honestly I expected that today would involve them learning where to place their feet, how to push off and go, and maybe how to pivot or something. Instead, this is what I found when I arrived: The boys were owning the skate park. I’ve not been around a lot of 4-year-olds who skate, but this is pretty impressive, no? The instructor seemed shocked by how much they did today, too. Anyways, it appears that my boys are pretty enthusiastic and maybe a bit savant with the skating thing, which I have mixed feelings about. I like the skate culture. I’ll admit, even I’m a little enamored by the cool factor, and by fond memories of my own involvement in it. (Mind you, I didn’t skate. At all. But I spent a good portion of middle school following around boys who did, and tracing the logo for Vision Street Wear onto my Trapper Keeper). Skate culture is definitely big where we live, and I’m not immune to the appeal. But when we got to the skate park, it was like I was suddenly looking at this whole culture as an adult, and not as a teengager with authority issues and an overwhelming need to be in the “in” crowd. I noticed the kids smoking behind the bathrooms, the lack of adult supervision, the cockiness and bravado of the older skaters. Suddenly I remembered the whole adults-are-lame mentality that goes along with skate culture. I started to wonder why I was encouraging any involvement in this scene for my kids. In fact, I began to ponder if I should be pushing the boys more towards sports. I mean, it seems like maybe the jocks are more respectful towards adults. But then again, they are prone to drinking and misogynistic behavior. Skater or jock? Skater or jock? Seriously. I was having this conversation with myself. And yes, I do realize that these choices are most likely completely out of my control, and should perhaps be left up to the things that my children show a natural interest in. WHATEVS! I continued this conversation with Mark when he came home . . . who just happened to be captain of his football team, and who has been giving my punk-rock inclinations the side-eye since the day we met. (He was most definitely team jock). He is not the least bit thrilled about the idea of our kids hanging out at this particular skate park as they get older, like so many of the local kids do. But he also listens to Cat Stephens and John Denver in the car so . . . you know. He’s kind of a grandpa about things. I told Mark that maybe skating wasn’t the worst hobby. I reasoned that teenagers who spend all day at the skate park were at least doing something active. It’s better than them sitting around playing video games or looking at porn on the internet all day. To which Mark said, really? Are those the only options here? I clearly have a cynical view of teenagers and what they are capable of. I can’t believe that some day I will have four of them. AT THE SAME TIME. None of this was helped by the fact that four teenagers were standing within earshot of both the boy’s class AND my two daughters, talking at FULL VOLUME and dropping the f-bomb in between every single word. It was a noun! And an adjective! They looked to be about twelve, and they were just so excited about how cool the f-word was making them look. I wasn’t really in the mood for Kembe to pick up any more new vocabulary, since he had already greeted me with a“check it, brah” that he learned from his coach when I arrived for pickup. I found myself in one of those awkward parenting moments . . . do I go up and discipline someone else’s kids? I’m actually not a huge prude when it comes to profanity but this really was excessive, and my son really is a sponge for the inappropriate. I scanned the park for another parent, and here’s another concerning bit. Despite the fact that there were about 25 kids in the skate park, I could not see another single adult nearby. It was a lawless place. A veritable Lord of the Flies, and I was an intruder in their skating anarchy. (I might be exaggerating this part just a little, but it was definitely a Liz Lemon YOUTHS! kind of moment). After about five minutes of listening to these obnoxious kids and trying to sear them with my eyeballs from afar, I finally decided I needed to walk up and say something. And the sound . . . of my voice . . . scolding these boys for cussing in front of my kids? It was the sound of my mother’s voice. And the way they looed at me with contempt and rolled their eyes at each other, and slinked off? It was so, so familiar. Except that I haven’t been on this side of it before. This is where what was intended to be a short, silly post is going to get heavy: in that moment, I was confronted with this horrible, horrible reality that someday, my kids will treat me that way. And even at four years old, Kembe seemed embarrassed that I called them out. So, I’m curious. What would you have done in that situation? Would you have called out the kids for cursing? And would you feel like a really, really old lady afterwards, or is that just me? And more importantly, team skater or team jock?