My kids and I recently decided to check out the home-school day at our local skating rink. For $5, you get two hours of skating and all the pizza, drinks and bruises you can stand. Skate rental is included.As I strapped on a pair of tan skates that were still slightly warm from the previous renter, I realized why skate day is such a bargain. I also realized that my ensemble, which included a ratty sweatshirt and a mismatched diaper bag, was doing nothing to dispel the stereotype of awkwardness among home schoolers.I certainly don’t mean to insult home schoolers, especially since I am one. And I will say that the more common stereotype that home-schooled kids are socially awkward is altogether unfounded. There are socially awkward kids in both home school and public school settings, and it’s usually because they have socially awkward parents.Exhibit A: me.Exhibit B: The father who is shakily making his way onto the skating rink. Remember that old “Saturday Night Live” sketch about “Mom jeans”? Well, this guy is wearing a pair. On the other hand, they kinda go with the skates.As my kids and I put on our skates, I assured my older son: “Just try walking on the skates at first. Then you can learn to push off.” He was off and rolling in no time.I was able to offer this tidbit of advice because I, too, learned to roller-skate as a kid. On a summer day sometime in the early 1980s, a bunch of kids from my day care took a field trip to the rink. It was the cool thing to do. Once we cleared the forbidding entryway, where printed regulations warned against cut-off jeans and bare midriffs, we were admitted into a dim world of semi-adulthood. The stereo system blasted Madonna hits, and rhythmic flashing lights lined the walls. We sat on carpeted benches and leaned against carpeted walls, bought hot-pink rabbit’s foot key chains and “suicide” sodas and possibly did a couple of laps around the rink. We watched in awe as teenagers sporting mullets and speed skates whipped by.Best of all, the rink’s owners had procured the latest music video: Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” which they projected on a screen while we sat in the middle of the rink and dared each other to watch it.At home-school skate day, there were no videos. And instead of Madonna, the music was Christian contemporary. Other than that, everything was exactly as I remember it: The walls are still carpeted (same carpet); the shelves behind the rental counter are still lined with tan skates (same skates). These have to be the most durable products on the planet. There are still cheap prizes, rhythmic lights and groups of kids trying to look cool and keep their balance at the same time.There is one more difference between then and now, though: I have kids. Without a trace of awkwardness, they make fast friends with everyone who’s going the same speed they are. They take breaks for pizza and Skee Ball, challenge each other to air hockey and press their faces against the glass at the prize counter.Meanwhile, I’m pushing an umbrella stroller around the rink. My toddler is really cute, so this may actually add to the coolness factor. And the stroller helps me keep my balance. Not falling down is still cool, right?If anyone is socially awkward among home schoolers, it’s the parents – er, me. But if I don’t know how to be cool, it’s not my fault. I learned how at a skating rink in the 1980s.
Monday, Mar. 18, 2013
My kind of cool may be dated
Home-school student Stephen Kirby, 13, enjoys homeschool skate day in February.