Monday, November 2, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are...

I've talked quite a bit in my blogs about nerves, but I guess today was the start of mine. I was sending an update to friends and family with the TV schedule for this weekend's NHK competition when I realized that we had "arrived." It's show time; it's the start of what is probably one of the most nerve-wracking seasons ever for us. It is time for flying pigs, tiger eyes, butterflies and - yes - bats in the belfry. It's where the Wild Things are, and they are all right here in our household.

Now, the Wild Things have been around for a long, long time. However, like other things in life, they have grown up: Not necessarily matured; just grown.

I remember my first bout with Wild Things. It was in 1993. Figures were still a part of the equation and one had to pass figures tests in order to compete for a berth at the Junior Nationals - Junior Olympics, or whatever they were called back then. Understand, that as great as our skater is at edges now, doing figures for him was absolutely painful. He was so small and light that I remember the wonderful Jimmie Disbrow getting down on his hands and knees during a seminar just to try and see a tracing. It was time to qualify and the first figures test had not been passed in five - count them - FIVE attempts at that point.

It was a cold morning in the Aspen Ice Garden. Of course every morning in the Aspen Ice Garden was cold, no matter what the season. The judges were lined up; the skaters had their scribes (if you don't know what a scribe is, Google it!). Coaches were pacing; parents were, once again, holding a collective breath. That was the first time I truly remember the circus parading. It started in my brain and ended up a bit lower. It was not fun. When the paperwork was turned in, it was yet-another retry (or fail) and that was the end of the season. I remember being absolutely crushed. I also remember a then-official  saying, "He'll be a great show skater," which in retrospect, is now somewhat amusing since she did not mean it as a compliment.

The next time Wild Things appeared were in 1996 at Junior Olympics. At that point, we were involved in competing juvenile dance. The partner's parents thought we had the next Fred and Ginger. We knew we needed to move on - quickly. 

After that, there were too many Wild Things to even try to chronicle. I have already referred to skating as our E-Ticket Ride (for those of you too young to know, and E-Ticket was issued for the most popular rides at Disneyland - another particularly amusing irony), and there were way too many rides on this rollercoaster. Looking back, they were all "learning experiences," both for us and for our skater. Reviewing them, we have earned an equivalent of a doctorate in the school of Hard Knocks - and hard falls. There were the close calls of being first alternate way too many times. There was the pairs skating insanity; the dance skating insanity; the spiral fracture that almost ended a season. There were long trips, missed flights. There were coaching moods, moves and, yes, necessary changes.  The Wild Things don't really go away; they just morph into different forms and varying degrees of importance. Some are amusing; some are definitely not. How you choose to tame them -  how you choose to be the Ringmaster of this circus - is really all that matters in the long run.

Now, the Wild Things have returned. Now, they are not exactly what I envisioned when I read Maruice Sendak's book to my children all those years ago. These Wild Things are more sophisticated, more insidious, because they truly only exist in my mind. They have nothing to do with our present reality. How do I tame them? I'm not sure. I guess I tame them by sharing them with all of you, but if you are a skating parent, you have your own. It's not fair, I suppose, but it is what I do.

Welcome to my world. Welcome to where my Wild Things are this season.


  1. "LET THE WILD RUMPUS START!" (I actually love the German translation a friend gave me of this book: "Und jetzt," rief Max, "machen wir Krach!" ("and now, let's make a racket!") I hope that this season will be wild in only the BEST way!

  2. Thanks for sharing because it helps to know that I'm not the only one. Though we are such "babies" in this process, we went through our first set of "Wild Things" (I love this analogy!) last year trying to pass a juvenile free-skate test. Three times and never made it before the deadline. It was nerve wracking and heart breaking, but such a learning experience and has made DS a stronger skater because of it. Things didn't start out easy and he knows he has to work for everything he achieves. This year I am much calmer. I'm sure that there will be occasions like that again, but keeping it in perspective and enjoying the ride and trusting that whatever happens is just another step on the road to our "degree" in the school of hard knocks helps immensely. Good luck to J and you too! Remember that in the book, the Wild Things are adorable in their own strange way ;) ... Sk8rmom

  3. I am completely lousy at taming my Wild Things. Fortunately for Ice Girl, she doesn't have to see me fall apart in the stands. She's with Ice Coach, who is a much calmer, more rational soul than I.

  4. I remember those cold cold mornings back in the Ice Garden and my mother must have had those Wild Things charging as I failed, and lets be honest, it was failing, not retrying, that bloody test for my fourth or fifth time, who even remembers now. And it is amazing now as a parent how those Wild Things come at all stages of their little lives. I am just starting to understand this as I watch my little ones try and retry, pass and fail so to speak. What I am learning, is that those Wild Things are really pesky voices in my head that are yelling at me, trying to distract me. I am starting to learn to ignore them and create my own future, write my own book so to speak. And that book is not afraid to dream and dream big, because you never know, maybe those wild things can turn into the very hungry caterpillar: a crazy little bug who turned into a beautiful butterfly.

  5. Alex - We've come a LONG, LONG way together. I remember your mother on some of those days; I know that you are now one of those encouraging coaches. Tough to pull double duty. My ear muffs are off to you! You've been down a lot of roads with our skater, too. Let's hope we all have butterflies and flying pigs in Vancouver together!! Love ya!