Jan 28, 2010

Confessions of a recovering skating mom

Before I was a skating coach, I was a skating mom, and, yes, I was that skating mom.
  • I was the mom in the stands pulling her arms in to demonstrate to her child how to pull in for an axel.
  • I was the mom in the door coaching her child despite the fact that I did not have a clue what I was talking about (that came later).
  • I was the mom in the lobby trying to figure out which parent clique was “in” to see if I could be friends with them.
  • I was the mom at public skate insisting that her daughter be friends with the “top” coach’s students.
  • I was the mom who left her FS4 nine-year-old alone at the rink for hours every day all summer to run her own practice.
  • I was the mom screaming at her child, or another parent, or a coach, in the lobby because of, well god knows what.
I don’t know why my daughter let me live, but it’s one of the reasons that I have lots and lots of patience and sympathy with the monster mothers who’ve succeeded me.

In an odd way, I learned to be a better skating mom because of the poison dished out to me by moms who were even worse, like the ones who loudly promoted a special party for skaters, and then went around to all the skaters who weren’t invited and told them they couldn’t come, because it was for “Coach’s” skaters only. Or who would come sit with me in the stands and grill me about what my daughter was doing and why, and how their precious child had learned that months ago or their coach did that jump this way, or bragged about the cost of their skates or the celebrity designer who had made the costume. Or the “top” coach who tolerated their offspring soliciting on their behalf, and who once went around telling everyone what the coach had said about each of them. When my daughter asked what had been said about her, the offspring answered “why would Coach talk about you?”

My daughter started me on the road to redemption when she banned me from the rink at about the age of 11. She would simply fold her arms and refuse to skate if I so much as peeked through the window. The evil mothers did the rest, and I started going into the small Studio rink to practice skating myself. The final straw came when we went to what we later learned was an annual summer party that literally every child at the rink had always been invited to except us, for years. Several of the mothers took joy in telling us this; the rest of them sat around trashing another skater who wasn’t there. That was it for me.

I stopped watching, stopped socializing and started skating. Around this time our rink hired a very forward-thinking director with a “hire the smile, teach the skill” attitude, who put me on tot classes, and helped me get my skating up to par.

The wonderful Jimmy Santee, now at PSA, and Tom Hickey, now at Shattuck St. Mary’s, finished the process with the many many terrific skating seminars they conducted, and the PSA completed my transformation.

I started this blog in part to help new skating moms not to be me. I’m still in recovery; the first step is recognizing you have a problem. I’m Xan, and I’m a skating mom.


  1. Why do we (resonable parents) put up with all this nonsense? It seems like it is universal. Why hasn't someone started a skating organization for reasonable people? ISI is an improvement over USFS but there is an ISI club in our town that is as difficult as any USFS club (and their rates are unbelievable--as if charging more is an indication of a superior club).

    My daughter loves skating but I absolutely HATE the culture! We belong to a great club (a huge improvement over the club we used to belong to) but there are still instances when I ask myself if skating is really good for my daughter. And because I'm so cynical about skating, I begrudge every skating bill I must pay. I have quit going to the rink as well.

  2. Alice in WonderlandJanuary 29, 2010 at 11:50 AM

    As a newbie getting a hang off it all (I think) I've found skating moms whose company I really enjoy, perhaps my ignorance is bliss! But I'm mostly intrigued by the comment of letting your FS4 9 year old daughter skate in the summer months alone. I've been wrestling with some questions...is it ever safe to leave them alone, at any age? What if there's an accident and I'm not there? Am I too hovering? I've recently begun to leave some of Saturday's long stretch to get some exercise, and while I know X skater's mom is there, but I am still full of doubt. After all, the older and more advance, doesn't the chance of accidents increase?

  3. @Alice- if your child is 7 or younger you probably shouldn't leave the when it's just an hour; but if she's in a supervised camp, sure. You leave her at school after all. Make sure she knows you're leaving, and that the rink or coach know how to reach you. My problem was that I left DD there unsupervised and expected her to handle her own practice for up to 4 hours. Where was my brain?

    @Anon-- it's very very hard to resist or stay above/apart from the culture at a rink, especially one where the mgt or coaches don't discourage bad behavior. Sometimes leaving the rink is the only way, as long as you know your daughter is not getting picked on.

    Watch for a post about cliques, coming up soon.