I am amazed at how quickly he has advanced since first suiting up. His skating now appears effortless as he glides around the rink. He looks like such a little man when he is wearing all of his gear, but hearing him giggle when he practices his penguin slides (belly flopping across the ice) reminds me that he is still a little boy. He is so happy skating that I can see his smile through the face guard from across the ice!
Over the past 18 months I have learned that there is an unspoken hierarchy among spectators at the ice rink. Figure skater parents have dominion, with their claiming the spots on the bleachers (which are too sparse in my opinion). These parents spread out their gear, bundle up in blankets, log onto their computers and do not move, even to pull in their feet so somebody can walk past. They reign supreme at the rink, and they seem to know it.
Parents of the children on the elite travel team assume their positions within the player's boxes. Their accommodations are not nearly as roomy and comfortable, but at least they have a place to sit. Unlike the figure skating parents, hockey parents do not generally bring electronics to the rink. Instead, they provide "supplemental coaching" to their young players, yelling out directions and admonishing bad plays. Robby does not have enough experience for us to sit in this area, but I doubt I would feel comfortable with that type of "support."
Although we've been taking skating lessons for almost two years, we are still relegated to standing along the side of the rink. Despite the time we have invested, we are still standing with the "learn to skate" and "Snowplow Sam" parents. The ice, just beneath the plywood floors, creeps up and makes my entire body cold. It wasn't terribly uncomfortable in the summertime, but in the winter it becomes downright painful.
My amputation, which is highly visible, is of no consideration when it comes to claiming a seat at the rink. I have never had a parent offer to surrender their place on the bench. Instead, I am constantly shuffling and shifting my weight in an attempt to stay comfortable. It feels as if the cold is shooting up the metal pylon in my prosthetic, making the bottom of my limb frigid.
Of course, I never ask for an exception from the hierarchy. I've learned to bundle up and make the best of it. Seeing Robby so happy makes ever shiver worth while. But if I ever do make it to the bleachers, rest assured that I will always give up my seat to somebody in need!