Category Archives: skates

Skating in the Imaginarium

Noah’s pining for a skate. Since stepping off the ice at Parc Monseigneur-Nadeau’s outdoor rink, he’s been waiting to lace up again. Our regular morning outings at Cole Harbour Place aren’t happening for us this week.

His desire is palpable, bubbling, ready to burst. Noah usually pipes up once a day, “Papa, when are we going skating?” I don’t think we can wait until our next regular Cole Harbour date. I need to check other rink schedules for public skates.

In the absence of getting to the rink, Noah turns the family room and the upstairs hallway into his own private ice surfaces. This is a pretty standard move. They become the arenas for his beloved hockey games with myself, or Nellie-Rose as his doomed-to-lose opponents. The atmosphere here is quite heady with daily dosages of Olympic hockey and Noah’s own brand of early morning, mid-afternoon and evening indoor pick up games.

What is quite remarkable however is Noah’s invention of skates for floor surfaces. He fashions blades with Lego blocks and glides around the basement floor as if it was the most natural thing to do. By now I’m used to seeing Noah and Nellie on their multi-coloured blades but I continue to marvel at the inventiveness that has such transformative powers for Lego blocks. I no longer exclaim about the ingenuity of it all each time I see them but I still smile deeply at the imagination that makes this all possible.

Nellie-Rose is smitten with the new skating technology. She has no ‘real’ skates of her own and hasn’t been on the ice this year. These ‘skates’ put her and Noah on a level playing field. Her recent interest in hockey, gauged by her willingness to play with big brother, has gone through the roof.

The first series of the Lego skates was made with single blocks. Version 2.0 is made with double blocks making for a more comfortably fitting skate. There has also been some experimentation with the blades’ length. The longer blades are hinting at speed skates. Nellie is quite steady on her feet. She moves in an actual skating motion to get her and her Lego from place to place.

Noah takes his ‘skates’ to bed at night maybe in an effort to dream them into real blades. Our lad’s imaginarium is certainly hard at play. It’s great to see him fashioning the world around him and having fun in the process.

This morning he thumped me 10 – 4 in the Eastern Passage gold medal Olympic Classic. That’s right, he was Team Canada.

I’ve got to track down the manufacturer and get myself a pair of those specialty skates for our downstairs scrimmages. Maybe they’ll help me win a game or two.


Skating dervish

We’re back at the rink – our earliest arrival yet. It’s three days pre Copenhagen, a balmy 14°C in Halifax under torrential rain. I wonder what the cumulative environmental impact is of all the ice making machines across the country. That’s a wondering I’m sure the WWF could help to answer.

We skittle quickly from the car to Cole Harbour Place. I’m down on my knees in the stands trying to get the lad’s skates on. “Papa, it’s taking a long time,” says Noah with a note of impatience as I fumble with his laces. As soon as the last skate is tightened he scoots off his seat and walks confidently to the open door at ice level. I set him up with a chair and he’s off.

It’s a great skate. Only eight falls this morning – a good thing as I forgot his rain pants. Best of all two unassisted jags of self-propelled blading for about 10 meters a shot. It’s a ‘look ma, no hands’ moment. Noah is beaming. His confidence is buoyant, yet measured. He’s still prone to the unanticipated vagaries of a treacherous slip, sliding smooth iced surface. A few times he calls out, “Papa, did you see, I nearly fell? I nearly fell, did you see?”

Today he’s not interested in being pushed around seated in a chair. He takes two short breaks in the stands to slake his thirst and then back onto the ice. It’s all about moving around the rink today, pushing with those muscled little calves and getting a better bead on steering that sometimes unpredictable chair.

He doesn’t want the end to come and asks, “Why does it always have to have an end?”. He does have the distinction this time of being last off the ice. There is a bonus too. The zambone as he calls it does its sweeping, brushing and mini-flooding. We wait until it’s all done and then make a quick hit at the library – movies for maman and papa, Curious George for Noah and toddler books for Nellie-Rose.

We hit Canadian Tire on the way home. A couple just leaving the ice when we arrived at Cole Harbour Place noticed that Noah had no face mask on his helmet. They highly recommended we get one as it provides better protection. There have been a few accidents among the pre-school crowd resulting in teeth getting knocked out and bloody lips. Noah and his helmet are now inseparable.

As soon as he wakes from his nap, he goes straight for the shiny black head gear. We snap it on and he starts calling out to maman, “Can you hear me, can you hear me now?” He then takes a few steps away from us and repeats the questions. We let him know that his wearing of the helmet neither impedes our hearing , or the ability of his voice to carry over distance. It’s like the helmet is glued to his head. He wants it on, on, on and asks, “How do goalies eat?” For starters we tell him that no one eats on the ice. It’s really about removing the mask.

Nellie is pretty nonplussed about the masked, helmeted brother. She takes it all in stride. She cracks us up a couple of times in the course of the day. At one point, maman admonishes her for having her finger buried up her nose. Nellie pulls her finger out, holds it up for inspection and says, scrunching up her face to maximize the cute effect, “It’s a mouse, squeak, squeak, squeak.” The ‘mouse’ line is now her standard response when asked about the finger in the nose. The show and tell and the squeak, squeak, squeak are a new twist from her ever expanding bag of tricks.

A short while later, Nellie is getting up close and personal with the kitchen floor. Her keen eyes discover a brown mark and she cries out in alarm, “Oh no, dog caca, dog caca.” Fortunately she’s mistaken. The stain is residue from an errant drop of one of maman’s beloved chocolate fondues.

Nellie is truly velcro sister. Whenever Lila is accessible, Nellie is right there. She is kissing, stroking, touching, poking, petting, tickling, rocking and anything else she can dream up. It’s all very loving but we need to have eyes in the back of our heads to make sure that Lila is not being crowded by big sister’s exuberance. It’s a joy though to see the pure delight that illuminates Nellie’s face when she’s close to her Lila.

Lila is two weeks old today. She is beautiful tout court. Cradled in our arms, her eyes are searching, constantly moving across our faces. She is a quiet baby, a hungry baby, an absolutely adorable baby. We are all madly in love with her.

As for Noah, seeing that he is fast as lightening, I might have to start calling him flash.

Cool runnings

Tomorrow Noah and I will be lacing up for the third time this season. We’ll be skating round and round and round the ice surface at Cole Harbour Place – Sid the Kid’s old haunt. We had a couple of sorties last winter. They were outdoors at Frog Pond and the Kiwanis Park on the Caldwell Road. They were not overly successful venues to actually getting our hockey mad lad to learn how to skate.

After just two times this year, the learning has gone exponential. Earlier in the week he was out on the ice for a solid 45 minutes. He keeps his balance through the age old Canadian tradition of leaning on a chair. On two occasions he went half way around the rink without falling. When he does lose it – the balance that is – 30 or 40 times a session, he’s a real champion about picking himself up and dusting himself off. So far, he’s managed to retain his patience, his sense of humour and not get discouraged. By my estimation, Noah will be skating unaided by props within the next few weeks.

We’re fortunate that the rink is virtually deserted during the morning public skate hour. There are no worries of Noah getting inadvertently knocked over by a passing skater as he veers off any semblance of a course and winds up going opposite the prevailing direction. There are quite a few other kids using a chairs as props also. He’s not alone and this is a good feeling.

He’s excited about his accomplishments to date as am I. I think he’s doing fantastic but I’m not sure if I’m providing him much beyond encouragement. Right now it’s about Noah-David getting comfortable out on the ice. The fact that he never wants to leave is a pretty good indicator that this one is just about in the bag. The letting go of the chair and general teaching to skate will be the hardest part. My dad did a fine job teaching me even though he never clapped eyes on a pair of skates until he emigrated to Canada from Scotland in his early 20s.

I’m sure Noah and I will sort things out. There are some helpful sites to give parents a hand. Canadian Parent has an excellent article on Teaching Your Toddler to Skate. Wondertime also provides some practical tips. I’ll be putting some of these into practice tomorrow.

Noah is fast like an éclair he says – a bolt of lightening. Given a little time and some practice, I have no doubt that Noah will be able to give even Anthony Lobell a run for his money.

On your marks, get set, go… Watch out Olympians.