Regionals have started. To be honest, it's been a few years since we've gone. I actually forgot about it until the memories of those halcyon days came flooding back like a tsunami last weekend as frantic parents and skaters at our club competition could do nothing but discuss where they were skating, who was competing, flight schedules, room rates, coaching costs, costumes, music...you get the idea. It was almost as exciting as opening night on Broadway. All the anticipation; all the buzz. It was time to "Let the Games Begin!"
For new parents, entering into the wonderful world of Regionals is like going to kindergarten on your first day. At once, you are both the parent and the child. You timidly hold on to your past life like the mother's hand that was there to protect you through your early years. As you let that security slip away, finger by finger, you see this uncharted space before you. The door looks inviting; everyone is smiling, but still there is trepidation. The child in you is excited; the parent in you is rationally aware that things will never be the same. You are now on your way to becoming a valet-cum-travel agent-cum-concierge-cum-sedan driver-cum seamstress, secretary, security and new student in the world of competitive skating.
Remember that I talked about schlepping your skater's things into the rink, having to keep track of skates, costumes and bags? Well, now add to that practice ice schedules at different rinks, transportation and hotel reservations for you and for your coaches (many of whom can't seem to grasp how to do this themselves), navigating strange cities in even stranger rental cars, finding reasonable dining options, and the absolute "Must" for most skating families: Locating the nearest Starbucks!
Of course you've done this at non-qual events. Trust me, you haven't done it with the intensity, verve, nerve and chaos that is infused into a qualifying competition where a lot is at stake. What you thought was familiar isn't. What you thought you knew about the sport immediately goes out the window, along with your sanity. Trust me: Qualifying competitions are NOTHING like club comps. This is "Project Runway" meets "America's Top Model," with a little "Dancing with the Stars" thrown in for good measure. Your skater's qualifying round could be her last (we didn't have that - another reason to have a male skater!).
For your coach and your skater, it has to all be there when it counts. For you, it is a level of butterflies and nausea equivalent to contracting Swine Flu. You sit there in the stands and all of a sudden it hits you like the proverbial ton of bricks: You are NOT in control. You resort to ancient rituals and superstitions (see one of my previous blogs on this). You pace; you pray; you palpitate. What you can't do is skate the program for your skater. All you can do is sit helplessly by trying to be the wind beneath their fledgling wings. You are out of control. There is nothing you can physically do to make it better. In a word, it SUCKS!
Like it is with kindergarten, welcome to your next 14+ years. You are at the start of your long educational road in this sport.