All it took was a few longing glances at the skateboard ramps, while playing on the Halifax Common playground, for our kids to become obsessed with the idea of becoming skateboarders.
The first time they asked me for skateboards, I laughed and said I’d think about it when they were teenagers. We have the same conversation, regularly, about getting them their own smartphones — the promised land of teenhood always seems to appease them.
But they didn’t let up this time. They wanted to do tricks. They wanted to learn to turn and jump and spin and who knows what else. They promised to wear helmets.
“You’re too LITTLE to skateboard,” I kept protesting. “Five-year-olds and seven-year-olds don’t skateboard! They . . . they ride bikes! They use scooters!”
My only skateboard experience during elementary school was sitting on one and motoring it around with my feet. It would never have occurred to me to STAND UP on that scary, skinny board with little wheels. I mean, I’d fall! Immediately!
(I got my own skateboard one Christmas, as a teenager, and used it exactly twice. It was not as easy as it had looked, and I decided I was no Avril Lavigne.)
Eventually, though, I found myself steering the minivan into the parking lot at the hardware store to check out the skateboards. The kids immediately hopped on and started testing the different models, and I was surprised by their ability to balance and coast along.
They proudly paid for their own boards up at the register, announcing they were using birthday money and allowance. I tagged behind, paying for two sets of child-sized knee pads, elbow pads and wrist guards to go along with the bike helmets they already had.
They tore into everything on the short drive home and tried on their new safety gear. We have a paved driveway that’s flat-ish, so I parked the van across the bottom to act as a barricade before the street. Then it was just a matter of strapping on their helmets, tightening their new pads and nervously stepping back to watch …