THE SKATE PARK. This summer, my twins found a new love. Skateboarding. Most towns these days seem to come equipped with skate parks, so off we went to Olympia Park in Schaumburg. We arrived, and very quickly my "maybe not such a great idea", mommy radar was tripped. It was filled with teenagers. Teenage boys to be exact. Long haired, baggie jeans, skinny jeans, earrings in odd places, fully equiped with Trick bikes and skate boards. They were everywhere... Kids were zooming down ramps, flying down stairs, doing 360's out of this giant cement pit while simultaneously spinning in the air.
For my boys it was love at first site, and with a sick feeling in my stomach I thought, Oh God, my boys are definately out of their league...But you have to know my kids to know that turning around on a dime and heading out of there was not going to be an easy feat. You see, my children are hedonists, action junkies really. They love to climb trees, jump off high places, ride their bikes at dangerously high speeds, got it? At that very moment, when as a mom I could only envision bloody faces and broken bones, my Everett and Michael, were positively glowing...Nope, this was going to have to be one of those, "let em try it and see occasions". I will have to let them fall down, scrape their bodies up, get hassled by annoyed teenagers all in the name of not wanting to have that "No! We don't want to go!" argument that would escalate into tears and tantrums. I thought a little of what I call "natural consequences" were in order. They would just have to find out for themselves that they were too young and unskilled for such a thing just now. Otherwise, I would never hear the end of it all summer.
I took a deep breath, thought, I must be crazy, and said, "okay, have fun". That very first day I had a million "almost" heart attacks. I watched, (well I had my eyes closed allot of the time) them navigate ramps for the first time, attempt "grinds" along metal plated ledges, practice thier first "ollies", and fall...allot. While I kept a firm eye on my two little dare-devels, I also took in what was surrounding them. The teenageers. Yep, they were somewhat of a motley looking crew. I leaned in a little closer, and waited. I waited to hear the fowl language that could become my kids new education this summer. I waited for them to light up their cigarettes and toss them all over the ground. I waited for the bullying to start against the kid who had a stuttering problem. I waited for my kids, whom were now following them around like little puppy dogs, to experience the brush off because they were getting in their way and on their nerves.
Huh.....none of it happened. I heard no cursing, there was no blood shed or broken bones. There was no bullying, fighting, smoking, and most curiously, they did not seem to be the least bit bothered by my boys. Huh...We left that first day, the boys grinning from ear to ear and me with my heart back in my chest. It has possibilities...
My first lesson came the very next day. Bright and early, we were back. This time, smuggled in matchbox cars quickly came out on one of the skate decks, and as my boys were zooming them around I thought, "oh no"....and was in the midst of explaining to Everett and Michael the many reasons why this was not an appropriate place for matchbox cars...when a young boy, about 13 came over. "Excuse me, Mam?" I looked up. "yes?", "um" he replied, "their okay, they are not bothering us. This place was built to have fun. Let them have fun". A little stupefied, I smiled, "your right, thanks". "your welcome" he said as he walked away. Wow, wisdom from the least expected place I thought, as I shook my head and went to sit down.
What amazed me even more, was the fact that not one teenage boy appeared annoyed at all by zooming 1 inch cars that could cripple them. On the contrary, I watched them all create quite a wide girth around my boys. They zoomed, jumped, 360'd all around them. Some of them even came over to inspect their inventory!! Wow again, I thought, boys are good. Boys get boys. I had to laugh, because my next thought was "can you imagine if their were girls here"" (now don't get me wrong, I love girls) I pictured girls with their hands on their hips, noses in the air, indignant voices admonishing my kids "YOU SHOULD NOT BE DOING THAT HERE....yadda yadda yadda". Yep, boys get boys.
As the summer went by, I learned more things about these teenage boys and realized I had much to be grateful for. For one, I recognized that there was an "unspoken set of rules" amongst these boys at this particular park. They seemed to respect each others space, took turns while waiting patiently, and they all seemed to have a certain commorodity with anyone who entered. What really amazed me was the affect they had on my kids. When at the park, my kids behavior was in check. Six yr. olds, as some of you know, can be territorial, whiny, impatient, and prone to temper tantrums still. Not here though. As the summer went by, I realized that my Michael, who has mild sensory issues and usually cries over any little scrape, (screams really), was falling...and huh....not crying. Lesson one for Michael, big boys don't cry at the skate park. Ha! My Michael was starting to learn that he had control over his tears! I also watched them learn to wait their turns without whining, respect each others space, share their bikes, boards & scooters with other kids. My my... these teenage boys were instilling in my children effortlessly values that I sometimes as a mom felt hopeless about on some days.
I watched my boys be streeeeeetched this summer as their older peers took them under there wing, teaching them tips, tricks, and "skateboard lingo". My kids came home exhausted, happy, and more confident in themselves.
I also learned that boys are good. Really good. Simple. We as woman poke fun at our men/boys (sometimes) for their simplicity. But at its core, I saw how this simplicity amongst these boys: a few basic rules like respect my space and have fun can lend itself to simply wonderful things.