Against my better judgment, I agreed to go ice skating. The children were keen because, well, they’re children, raised on Frozen and thus believing ice skating is constant fun. I wasn’t because, well, visions of fingers lacerated by blades and knees blown out by crashing into the ice kept flashing before me.
The rink was in a shopping mall in the middle of Montreal, reached via a long journey on the metro followed by a very long walk through a labyrinth of other shopping malls. We paused for lunch in the world’s loudest food court and eventually got some pasta into the children, but this odyssey took around three hours, which was quite ridiculous.
Arriving at the rink, I kept looking for a way out. Perhaps it would be shut. Perhaps there would be no skates small enough for my children. Perhaps I would transmogrify into a dragon and fly away.
No such luck. Soon I was effing and blinding as I tried to get a pair of uncomfortably tight skates on, while the girls gibbered and stomped about, apparently not understanding they had Ruddy Enormous Knives on the soles of their shoes. Or perhaps that was what they were excited about.
Up on the rink, small children were allowed to steady themselves by pushing a large plastic penguin around in front of them, or a metal bar, bent into a sort of snow-plow-cm-handlebar. Destroyer chose the penguin and La Serpiente took the bar.
I should have been amused that as soon as they got on the ice, they realised this wasn’t unalloyed fun – Destroyer was worried, and La Serpiente kept falling on her ass. But I was too shit scared by my own predicament to find the humour in the situation. Still, I had to get La Serpiente going. From the first crash to the floor, she was ready to leave the ice, but I wasn’t going to let that happen.
I realise I have a peculiar teaching style. Powered by hypocrisy I gripped onto the bar at the side of the rink, while telling La Serpiente not to. I slowly coaxed her into standing a bit taller, making small movements with her feet and not turning sideways to fall down again. The two of us shuffled around the perimeter of the rink, La Serpiente asking again and again if she could stop, and me cajoling her to carry on. It was quite surprising, therefore, when she came off the rink and wanting to go back out again. I guess a success.
We went round a few more times before the zamboni came out to mow the ice, and then I was given Destroyer. With Destroyer, we eschewed the skating aids and just made her hold my hand. Then, with me grasping the rail again, I made her skate the ten metres between the two entrances to the rink, each time her trying to grab hold of something else and each time me stopping her and only letting her hold my hand. I’d continue to advise her, although that’s a constant repetition of "quiet feet, quiet feet, bend your knees, look at the person over there". For somebody who can’t skate, I did a reasonable job of teaching Destroyer, and after an hour of this, I could even relinquish my hold on the rail.
At the end, no lacerations, no torn ligaments. A pretty successful time for all of us, then.