Posts Tagged ‘ice skating’

Mermaid tail pattern

Flipper unfortunately cut off but as Blitzen will tell you, it is the most important part

Suddenly, over the weekend, Blitzen became completely obsessed with mermaids.  As you may have noted from a few of the posts on this blog, Blitzen is an extraordinarily imaginative and creative kid.  She is also a wee bit obsessive.  So once a new object of fascination takes hold, it is usually 2 to 3 weeks (occassionally longer) of non-stop whatever (guinea pigs, fairies, ice skating, now mermaids).  Then she moves on to the next thing.  She is still interested in the old things but they no longer consume all of her mental and play energy.

Upon deciding that she really really needed to be a mermaid, Blitzen looked up mermaid tails on the internet with Andrew – you can buy them, apparently, and it is a thing.  An expensive thing, actually.  There are also many videos illustrating how to make your own mermaid tail.  We compromised, bought some bathing suit fabric online and will attempt to create our own mermaid tail.  We already traced ourselves to create a pattern.  See picture.  Now there are a couple of flaws here and I know it – 1) I don’t sew but our babysitter does and I am hoping that she will help 2) we have no where to use our mermaid tail — but we will move forward and hopefully this will be a fun project.

Because of our new interest in mermaids, we’ve been thinking and talking about them a lot.

Blitzen, to me, while she is in the shower, “If you were a mermaid living under the deep blue sea, would you get married?”  Me, “Um, yeah, I think if I met a nice merman and fell in love, I might get married.”

Blitzen, to me, during dinner, “Won’t you please, please, please just think about getting a mermaid tail too?” Me, “Um, honey, I just really don’t think I want one and we’re going to be very busy making your tail but if it is really easy and I can find some cheap fabric, I’ll think about it.”

Needless to say, Blitzen was pretty crestfallen when she learned that her mermaid tail would not be suitable attire for swim lessons at the Y.  She cheered herself up by deciding it would still be fun in the bathtub.

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Bathing, that is.  A couple of weeks ago, we were hanging out with Blitzen in one of the many NYC parks that has a playground water feature.  It was turned off, of course, it being 40 degrees out and all. But Blitzen knew what it was and asked if we could come back in the summer.  We said sure.  Then she asked if she could get a swimming suit.  We said sure.  And then she got really, really excited.  It was all that she could talk about and so I said that we could look swimsuits online when we got home.  So we did and we went ahead and bought one.  For the next several days, as we awaited delivery, Blitzen would revisit the swimsuit website, view the choices and color options, ask Andrew and I what suits we liked best, pouring over every detail.  Then she wanted to see our swimsuits and was so delighted to learn that we each had not one, but two of these treasured items.

On the day the swimsuit arrived (she checked the mail twice a day every day until it did arrive!), she asked if she could wear it in the shower to make sure that it worked.

Given all the swimsuit talk and the fact that ice skating lessons are about to end, we decided to sign Blitzen up for swim lessons at the neighborhood Y.  The session was just starting and the price was right so we figured that we would give it a try.

So this weekend was a big deal.  We believe that Blitzen got her very first swimsuit (and wore it non-stop for 48 hours under her clothing) and we think that she went swimming for the very first time.  She really enjoyed the water – she wasn’t afraid and bravely tried all of those beginning tricks like putting her face in the water, blowing bubbles, floating on her back while being held up and towed around by the instructor.  It was really a joy to watch.  She never stopped smiling.

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#1)  After Blitzen opened a handful of presents from us, she wanted to give us a present.  Instead of artwork or a note, she decided to read/tell us a story.  Not just any story,  A Visitor’s Guide to Ancient Rome, which had been presented to her by the author the day before.  Blitzen’s lively version of Roman life, based on cartoon illustrations, may presage a future as a college professor.

#2)  We went to church with Nana.  I loved it, and am considering giving up my dream of being a rock & roll front man (inspired by Bruce Springsteen and Bono) for being a Baptist preacher (inspired by Rev. Forbes and Rev. Williams).

Blitzen was into it for the first hour.  Hours two and three were a new testament to the brilliance of Carrie Ann.  Armed with just a pen and paper, Carrie invented silent drawing games, word games, strategy games and entertainments worthy of an amen.

#3) Blitzen made a scrumptious heart-shaped pizza for dinner.  (An aside: imagine our conversation with Nana when she asked what our Christmas plans were.  We didn’t mention church, family or friends, just baking artisinal pizzas.  Yes, we are a living stereotype.)


#4)  At bedtime, Blitzen packed her new ice skates, a sweater and two extra pairs of socks in her bag and hung it from the front door.  “This is so we won’t forget anything when we go skating in the morning.”

The ability to anticipate future gratification and thoughtfully organize and plan for it is a major milestone in maturity.   When Blitzen woke up this morning, she confidently carried the bag to the rink, laced up her new skates, waved to us and stepped gingerly onto the ice.

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Ice Skating

Since the day we met her, Blitzen has been talking about ice skating.  She had never skated before, but was fascinated by it.  Perhaps she’s a big fan of the Winter Olympics, and hopes to luge someday as well.

We planned to go skating for the first time on Sunday.  On Saturday night she was telling us that she would, “Skate like a beautiful ballerina.”   We were at the rink when it opened the next morning, and Blitzen was shaking with excitement.  My mom said it felt like we were the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

After getting our skates, it occurred to me that there were some flaws in our plan.  Neither Carrie nor I know how to ice skate.  A beautiful, coordinated, athletic eight year olds with no teacher, no skating experience, limited patience and low tolerance for frustration might not skate like a ballerina her first time out.  The possibility for disaster was high.

It took Blitzen and me 30 minutes to make it around the ice twice.  She rarely let go of the wall; when she did she reached for my arm and nearly knocked us both down.  Spirits were still high, but frustration was close when we paused for water and pistachios.  Mom made the brilliant suggestion that I take the inside lane, allowing Blitzen to stay farther from the wall.  Then we met a terrific young  woman named Arianna who worked at the rink and gave Blitzen helpful suggestions.  (“Put your hands on your knees.  Take baby steps.  Push your skate out and glide.”)  Turns out that Arianna grew up in the neighborhood and learned to skate at this very rink.  Blitzen was smitten.

Twice more around, and we were getting somewhere.  Blitzen was really skating, more or less.

I’m not proud of my next decision.  As only an NYC parent with more money than common sense could, I decided that Blitzen should have a $50 private skating lesson.  I rationalized it as follows: 1) Wouldn’t it be better to learn to skate from someone who knows how to skate?  2) Wouldn’t it be nice for Blitzen to spend time with a strong, positive young woman of color?  3) If I keep trying to teach, Blitzen is sure to end up really mad at me.

Blitzen couldn’t believe it.  “I’m can’t believe I’m going to have an instructor,” she whispered breathlessly.

Stunningly, it went well.  Blitzen was determined and focused like a laser for the 30-minute lesson.  The instructor was terrific.  Blitzen skating skills increased enormously.  Skating is great for her, combining beauty, strength and lots of gross motor.  We’ll be back.

(Conveniently stopping this post when we left the skating rink allows me to avoid writing about the tantrums on the walk home, the folks on the street alternately praying for us or yelling at us not to abuse Blitzen, and the kind stranger who helped us calm Blitzen down.)

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