I thought I'd write up some home truths about the skaters.
I don't know why I'm in such a bad mood lately. But I find myself completely unwilling to play the game-- the little girls who've been told that acting like they're 2 when they're 5 is cute. The children who completely fall apart when told that they cannot do something that they, um cannot do; the ones who lie to you about how much time they've spent in class; the self-promoters, who take 2 classes at level X, hide for a week, and then show up in level Next and tell you they passed the other class.
Here are some of the things that parents, and skaters, just simply have to start being honest about.
Don't indulge them. It's bad enough to baby an 8 year old who falls but isn't hurt, but a child who is encouraged to sob uncontrollably because "teacher was mean" should be disciplined, not comforted. For the safety of the child, I need tears to be real. I need to be able to tell the difference between a child who is injured and a child who is spoiled. I have a child who takes terrible falls and never cries, so when she does cry I know that something is really wrong. The child who falls apart when you look at her cross eyed is not going to get the same level of concern. Ever hear of the boy who cried wolf? Don't parents teach that story anymore?
Jesus, what happens when your child makes mistakes on the math test, or something else that actually matters? The inability of children to accept criticism these days is astounding.
Please. Stand. Still. Please don't talk when I'm talking. Why am I saying "please"? I used to jokingly ask the kids "do you act like this in school?" and they would get all sheepish and say, well no, they didn't it's not allowed, and then they'd behave. Now, they look at me like I've just asked them whether they're allowed to breathe in school. Apparently, this is how children behave now.
Actually mastering the skill
So, based on the way coaches, kids and parents just blithely move their skaters up, actually having to learn the skills is old hat. This has been a problem with coaches in the past, but nothing like when the parents/kids take control. I've seen coaches move kids up a level when they aren't ready, but have at least had the 10 weeks of class. I've seen them move their private students up several levels for whatever ridiculous reason, but at least they're getting private instruction in the deficit areas.
But this new thing where you take 2 classes of gamma (not 2 sessions-- 2 classes), and then skip delta because it's at an inconvenient time, and show up in PreFreestyle for a day before finally landing in Freestyle 1... All in the space of 7 weeks. I have 4 kids in classes right now who fit this profile. What The Bumblepuck! Do parents understand the danger involved in putting a child in a level they aren't ready for?
Sorry, no As for Effort or Attendance in Figure Skating. You gotta deliver the goods.
Four year olds with no social skills whatsover
I've met a lot of 4-year-olds. Far more than you will ever meet. Here's what a four-year-old can do: Respect the teacher. Listen to instructions. Ask for help. Restrain from tantrums, screaming, kicking, spitting, biting and hitting (not kidding). Share. Make friends. Don't talk when someone else is talking. Spend 30 minutes away from a parent (who by the way, is standing just 20 feet away). Speak clearly enough for a stranger to understand. Stand, even on skates. If your four-year-old cannot do these things, either stop babying him or get him evaluated. If your 5-year-old cannot do these things, skip the "stop babying him" and just get him evaluated.
Skating class as a socializing experience
If your 4-year-old has never been in a class, skating class is NOT the place to start. Go to Music and Me, where the danger of injury is less.
Leave the teens alone
Stop helping your 16-year-old get dressed. Seriously.