Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ice Show Practice + Cubs = Trauma

If all goes according to plan, my son will be participating in an ice show on Mother’s Day weekend. Of course, that is a big ‘if.’

This past Saturday was the first practice. At 8 AM, my son and I went to the same rink where Kai has his weekly skating class. Many of the kids in his special needs class are taking part in the show, so we decided to sign him up for it as well.

I was curious to see what type of routine these kids would be doing. While the disabilities of the kids vary, I know that several, including my son, have issues with behavior. I wondered how the teacher would be able to get them to perform together.

It wasn’t easy.

One boy refused to cooperate from the very beginning, skating away from the group and mostly hanging out in the corner of the rink while his teen assistant unsuccessfully tried to coax him to join the others. His mother commented that she would have been really stressed out and embarrassed if he was doing this in a class full of typical kids, but with this group she felt comfortable knowing that all of us other parents would understand. Still, I think she felt somewhat relieved when another boy started having problems, too.

That boy was my son.

At first, Kai skated along with the group nicely as the teacher tried to instruct the kids on the routine. The highlight of the performance will be a simple dance number set to the Steve Goodman song “Go Cubs Go.” Even on the first ragged attempt, the kids looked pretty cute as they waved their arms back and forth, somewhat in unison. During the actual performance, all of the kids will be wearing Cubs shirts.

After about a half hour, I saw Kai lying on the ice. Apparently, he had had enough.

Frankly, I couldn’t blame him. After all, it was the Cubs. Couldn’t they have picked a number that didn’t have anything to do with over a century of losing? I was hoping to spare my son a lifetime of heartache, but, here he was, only seven years old, and he was forced to dance on ice while listening to the musical fairytale that “The Cubs are gonna win today.”

Eventually he got up off the ice… so that he could skate off the rink and tell me that he wanted to go home. Practice wasn’t over yet, but I didn’t have the heart to subject him to more Cubs’ torture.

Still, the group photo for the ice show program was scheduled to be taken after practice so I wanted him to stick around. We went into the hallway and I tried to calm Kai down as he kept insisting, quite loudly and vehemently, that he wanted to go home.

When it was finally time for the photos, the girls who help him skate each week tried to cheer him up. He barked at them that he wanted to go home. I also tried being nice so that he would look somewhat pleasant for the photo. Yeah, that didn’t work.

So, I told him firmly that he was going to be in the picture and that I wanted to see a smile. If not, he would lose some privileges. When the photographer was setting up the group, I dragged him to the first row. He didn’t smile. The photographer snapped off a couple of shots. I have no doubt that my son will be the grouchiest-looking of all the hundreds of kids that will be in the program.

We shall see if he has any more of a smile in the show, or if he ends up skating in it at all. I just hope that the Cubs’ trauma doesn’t scar him for life as it did so many of us.

For those of you not from Chicago, here is the story of Steve Goodman and his "Go Cubs Go" song:

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