On Sunday, both kids had hockey practice, and in between their practice time, there was rec skating at the arena. I wanted to work on my crossovers and show off my mad backward-skating skills, and the three of us cajoled Matt into coming along too.
Despite growing up in east Duluth, Matt never played hockey and rarely skated. He puts on skates and good-naturedly comes with us on the ice, but not very often.
John had just finished practice and most of his friends were sticking around to skate, sweaty in their pads and chewing on their mouthguards. The rest of us started skating. Maia found a friend to race with and John was playing pom-pom with his teammates.
Matt got on the ice and scooted around gamely. I skated past a knot of John's friends and heard them saying to John: "Hey, uh, your dad can't skate." They were a little embarrassed to be pointing this out, as if John might not know.
"I know," John said. "He didn't play hockey growing up."
The kids were flabbergasted. This was unheard of. They all swarmed around Matt to tease him. "You don't skate very well," they announced with nine-year-old honesty in their squeaky nine-year-old voices.
He took them all down. Hey, they were wearing pads.