One of the best seminar speakers of my fellowship year was Bill Miller, a UM law school professor. I mentioned him before, and we don’t need to get into it all over again, but he said something funny about the nervousness of today’s parents with their children’s physical safety that amused me:
“You know those stories about knights in the Middle Ages, how they wore so much armor that they had to be hoisted onto their horses? That’s a 5-year-old kid in Ann Arbor learning to ride a bike.”
I thought of this Saturday, when I watched Kate at her latest improvement activity — ice-skating lessons. She’s good on skates but she needs to learn some technique, like how to stop without running into the boards, crossovers and so forth. She takes them in a vast group divided by ability, and the age range starts at 3. In this hockey-mad town, that means the group is lopsided at the low end, with pint-size tots in tiny skates who can probably still remember learning to walk, now learning to skate. It’s pretty funny. They give them these little frame things like walkers, and they spend 50 minutes falling down and crashing into one another. They make Kate, with her relative competence, look like Nancy Kerrigan.
The flyer said “bike helmets recommended for the tots,” and about half wear them, the other half already in their very own wee-small hockey helmets. I understand this, even as I recall the words of the very first skate instructor Kate had, at McMillen arena back in the Fort: “Learn to skate correctly and you don’t need a helmet.” Children that young are lightweight and top-heavy; all you have to do is watch them fall a few times to see they do so like cartoon characters — the feet go way up, the head tips back precipitously, and it’s even money which hits the ice first, the noggin or the butt.
But it’s the extra padding I find amusing. Several of the kids wear kneepads, which seems silly on ice. (First of all, how often do you fall knees-first? And if you do, you fall and slide; it’s not a sidewalk.) One kid seemed to be skating with a drinking straw in his mouth, and I thought, well that’s pretty foolish, and then I looked closer and realized he was wearing a football-style mouthguard, and the drinking straw was actually the loop that attaches to the helmet’s face mask. Only it wasn’t attached to anything, because he was wearing a bike helmet. What are the chances a kid’s going to go face-first onto the ice in a long-billed bike helmet and land on his teeth?
On the other hand, I remember all those pictures of Bobby Orr, missing several of his lateral incisors. I can see where moms get nervous.
Kate got skates for Christmas, which she asked for in hopes that it would be a nice cold winter and she could skate at our local park, which has two low-tech rinks, which is to say, they rely on Mom Nature for ice. She’s normally pretty reliable in a Michigan winter, but not this one. Or the last one. The weather ninnies are barking about “Arctic cold” expected later this week, so I checked the long-term forecast. To me, Arctic cold is defined as single-digit highs, subzero lows. Today’s revised definition, at least to judge from the forecast: Highs in the 20s, lows in the teens. Please.
Meanwhile, once again, it rained all night last night. At least now the rinks will freeze, though.
So what did Barbara Boxer really say to Condoleezza Rice that made Rush Limbaugh call her a “rich white chick with a huge, big mouth, trying to lynch … an African-American woman right before Martin Luther King Day”? You know, it must have been terrible for America’s foremost deaf drug addict to come to the defense of “an African-American woman” (although maybe he was just high). I looked it up in the communist New York Times. Winston Smith must have been hard at work that night, because this is all I found:
“Now, the issue is who pays the price, who pays the price? I’m not going to pay a personal price. My kids are too old, and my grandchild is too young. You’re not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, within immediate family. So who pays the price? The American military and their families, and I just want to bring us back to that fact.”
While I’m sure Rush, like lots of wankers, loves a good cat fight (rOWRrrrr…), this is ridiculous.
Finally, some fun bloggage for a slow Monday — the trailer for “Black Snake Moan.” Suggested discussion topic: Is Samuel Jackson committing career suicide (I mean, two movies with snake in the title, back-to-back?) or having the time of his life? I’m leaning toward the latter.