Awful Skater, Awesome Brother

We wanted our kids to learn to skate. I mean, can you even call yourself Canadian if you can’t glide on “blade boots?” For several years we constructed a practise rink in our backyard. Sadly, that ended after what will now forever be known as, “The Great Thaw and Neighbour’s Yard Flood” of 2012.

Our son enjoyed the rink while it lasted (though mostly on his knees which will make sense as you read on). His little sister longed to join him on the ice. However, teaching her to skate wasn’t a priority. We needed to get her walking without falling down all the time first.

She tried skating for the first time with a local organization called ErinOakKids in their skating program for kids with disabilities.

I wrote about that HERE. Let’s just say, skating with Avery aka “Spaghetti Legs” had its challenges.

My husband didn’t skate as a child. He taught himself just a decade ago. He won’t win any medals, but he’s decent considering he learned so late in the game.

Avery’s older brother never excelled on the ice either. But it wasn’t from lack of trying. We signed him up for lessons when he was four years old.

His first time out, his dad and grandparents watched from the stands. My husband scanned the ice, looking for his skater boy amid the throngs of gliding children. He picked me out among the skaters, and then spotted our son lying stretched out on the ice a foot from my toe pick.

little boy lying on the ice at the skating rink not refusing to skate
He was a reluctant skater whose preferred method of ice mobility was the log roll.

Eventually with Tim Bit bribes and his own grit, he made some progress. He was at least up on his feet. He tried his best but ultimately traded in his skates for basketball shoes.

Aware of his aversion to skating, I was surprised when he accepted his sister’s invitation to join her on “Sibling’s Day” at her skating program. Ever the supportive older brother (fifteen at the time), he didn’t want to disappoint her. He borrowed his dad’s skates and a rather glaring white helmet (similar to the one pictured above) and he stepped cautiously out onto the ice with his sister.

His skills were shaky, but he eventually managed to shuffle around the rink on his own. His sister’s cries of encouragement rang out across the ice.

As I leaned against the boards (to rest my back… bending down to support “Spaghetti Legs” was exhausting) I watched my 6’2 son slowly loop around the rink, gliding way outside his comfort zone.

The hour quickly came to an end. As we sat on the bench together unlacing our skates one of the program volunteers approached us. She leaned in toward my son with a broad smile and patted him on his knee. She said sweetly, “Wow! You were verrrry good out there. Great job…Sebastian” (as she read his name on the tag stuck to the centre of his helmet). “I hope we see you again!” she said as she went on her way to help other skaters off with their skates.

My son turned to look at me, the meaning behind her praise dawning on him.

“She thinks I’m IN the program,” he said.

He may not have been enrolled the adaptive skating program (though if you’d been there, you probably would’ve made the same assumption) but he’s been active in the disabled community since the beginning—as a volunteer, a role model, a friend, an advocate, and the best big brother.

We haven’t skated since that day. Last year we didn’t make the time. This year…Covid. He promised his sister he’d skate with her again when it’s safe. In the meantime, we should really get the kid a cooler helmet.

This guy’s history with white helmets goes way back. 😂

You can read about our experience with Plagiocephaly and helmet correction HERE.

Related: Skating Programs for kids with Disabilities


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