Here are two concepts that don’t go together anywhere near as well as you would think: six-year-old’s birthday party, and ice skating.
Well, let me rephrase that: if you happen to loathe and hate children, then get down to the Melbourne Icehouse on a Saturday afternoon.
Because it was kiddie carnage. There were two birthday parties in the house, all these tiny kids in their best party clothes, strapped into beginner skates and sometimes even helmets. Pushed out onto a white version of Hell.
I have never seen so many knee-highs splattering wherever you looked. Here were two little girls in a misguided attempt to support each other, only succeeding in dragging one another to the hard, remorseless ice, time and again.
Here was a kid who thought the only solution to no balance was to try and go faster. Those walls can hurt. They come up fast.
And our favourite: this one kid who face-planted maybe 10 times in a row; his father, chuckling and trying to appear sympathetic, supportive and determined, all at the same time, helping him back to his feet, well, skates.
Letting go of the kid’s hand.
Whoops. Smash. Face.
One time, straight into the skates of a coach trying to help. That’s got to hurt.
Or occasionally, for a change-up, straight backwards, smashing the back of his head. No helmet.
This kid was a one-man Funniest Home Videos program, but suffering big time for his art.
The last I saw of him, he had somehow ventured away from the safety of the wall into uncharted ice. “Go, kid, go,” I had to yell, stirred by his courage and his improvement. “Bend your knees. Lean forward so you don’t fall backwa–.”
Wham. Back of head cave-in. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hold onto.
But wait! … emerging from the black spots in front of his eyes, a kindly teenage Icehouse coaching assistant, appearing like an Angel, like a vision, to end his suffering, his pain. Out stretched her slender, confident hand. He grasped it. Was pulled back to vertical. She smiled, an Angel’s smile. Everything was finally going to be okay. Life was great. Skating awesome at last.
She glided away to help others. The kid watched her go. Was ready to finally skate.
Straight backward! Epic skull-cave.
(This kid didn’t cry once, by the way. Full respect.)
The only good thing about The Hour of Kiddie Carnage, apart from the sheer humour?
I was finally not the worst skater out there. And my weaving skills got a work-out as bodies flew in all directions, or stopped dead in front of me, or lurched across my path.
I even kept working on the snow plough stop. Within months, I reckon I’ll have it down.
Going for a run tomorrow, then the Fitzroy Back Beach (read: pool). Don’t want to get ice-obsessed. And it’s going to be 32 C. Skating on such a beautiful day today felt weird enough. But at least I’m not as sore as some kids out there tonight. I almost feel sorry for the little bastards.