February Vacation: Day One, We Nailed It (or, Teach Your Child to Ice Skate)

When I was a kid, we didn’t have all these week-long vacations. At least, not that I remember.

Nowadays it’s a week in February, a week in April…I’m lucky to have a flexible WAHM schedule. But how do parents who can’t work a light week do it??

Tuesday was our first “vacation” day. I had a very early physical therapy appointment, and Ben was going to daycare, so Max and I got up and dressed and out the door before anyone else was awake.

Granted, for some reason Ben slept ridiculously late that day (we left at 7:40). So it was pretty easy to get Max ready and out the door without his being distracted by playing with his brother.

He was also excited to catch an early bus with me.

We hurried to the corner (the far one, 5 blocks) but missed the bus by about a minute. We caught a different bus, transferred, and made it to physical therapy–halfway across the next town–with time to spare.

He was perfectly behaved and patient for my hour of P.T., then we had to walk back into the square. He did want to catch a bus, but none were coming, and when two finally did come, we were between stops. He walked the mile and a half into the square.

Then we had a second breakfast while we thought about what to do. He really wanted to go skiing but C’s car was in the shop, so he’d taken mine. I suggested we go downtown to ice skate.

We rode the subway into Boston, walked over to Frog Pond, and paid for entrance and skate rentals. ($21, if you must know…plus our breakfast and our lunch out…but it was still cheaper than flying the family to Disney, right?)


Frog Pond, Boston

At first, of course, he wanted to cling to the wall and to me. I convinced him to let go of the wall–it doesn’t help anyone learn to skate–and eavesdropped on other parents and instructors teaching kids. “Feet apart! Weight forward! Knees slightly bent! You can do it! If you can ski, you can skate!” (last line was my own; I don’t really think it’s true, except Max is pretty athletic and coordinated).

We went around twice, then he was done. I let him sit on a bench while I skated around once, fast, keeping an eye on him.

Then he agreed to go again. And one more time. He wanted to see me do some of my old tricks–jumps, spins–and I obliged as best I could without crippling myself or others (i.e., not much, but enough to impress him). He was also impressed by a tiny tike in a hockey helmet skating around at warp speed.

We had to get off the ice for a Zamboni session:


Very exciting. And then, though Max had said he was done, we were back on. He wanted to go the wall. “Fine,” I said, “skate there.”

He did.


And then he skated back to me.

And when we got to the gate, he wanted to go around again.


He did so well. He could skate on his own, without holding on to me or the wall. He didn’t think he could, but he could. And he did.

Then we wandered downtown and got lunch. Then we hit a few stores (City Sports, mainly). Then we took the subway close to home.

But we missed the bus. We had a half-hour wait. I thought of getting ice cream but that seemed over-the-top on the day we’d just had. So I wouldn’t suggest it.

“Honey, we have about half an hour–a little more–until the bus comes. What should we do?”

“Get ice cream?” he said. He didn’t look at me.

“Sure! Great idea!” I said. He looked up in surprise. “What did you think I’d say, ‘No’?” I asked. He nodded, grinning. “I was thinking about ice cream, too. I just thought I wouldn’t say anything. I’m glad you did.”

We crossed the street to the ice cream shop. He got lactose-free vanilla with gummy bears; I got tart yogurt with sour cherries (hurt my tongue, all that sour/tart!). He tried mine and wanted it. We shared and compromised.


Mostly, he ate mine.

Then we went to catch the bus home. I made him promise to finish his cone (or was it mine?) before we got on the bus.


We got home. And he’s been begging to go ice skating ever since.

And I thought, “Vacation Week! We are winning this! What does everyone complain about?”

And then I found out, what with both kids home and no sitter and the squabbling and the no-nap tiredness and…all of it.

This weekend is The Weekend (plus we have plans to go out), and Monday life returns to normal. But this week, well, if the only real event was that Max learned to skate and to love it, then our vacation week was a flaming success.

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