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.

Posted at 11:21 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

10 responses to “Protected.”

  1. brian stouder said on January 15, 2007 at 11:45 am

    they rely on Mom Nature for ice. She’s normally pretty reliable in a Michigan winter, but not this one. Or the last one.

    Well, you quoted the professor speaking of the Middle Ages, and when we got to global warming, that same allusion made me smile.

    In our lifetimes, we have experienced huge winters (arctic cold, piles of snow) and the peer-reviewed experts were saying we were headed for a new ice age (and it was our fault);

    and now we are experiencing dud-winters, and the peer-reviewed experts are saying the globe is warming (and it is our fault)

    One supposes that when ancient civilizations made burnt offerings to the gods, in hopes of fertility and a good harvest – their shamans spoke in much the same way as our climatologist/shamans do today

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  2. Dorothy said on January 15, 2007 at 11:51 am

    When I was 12 and made a new friend at school, she invited me to the local ice rink on Friday nights. I had never skated before so it was all new to me. I clung to the sides and wobbled as best as I could for a few weeks, eventually learning to let go and move around a little. Eventually I made it out to center ice and did not have to have my friend hover over me. However, I DID fall on my knees over and over. I remember this because the first night I made it to the center, I went home and lifted my pant legs to show my mom how black and blue my knees were. But dammit, I had skated!

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  3. nancy said on January 15, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    I guess it’s all in how you’re put together. With me, I fall butt-first, every time.

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  4. Dorothy said on January 15, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    I fell on my knees recently. The day after Christmas I was walking the dog and our neighborhood has very strange sidewalks/curbs. I stepped down onto the street to go around a huge pile of Christmas trash, and down I went. It was around 6:10 AM, still very dark out. I ripped good black slacks that I had only worn twice before. I still have a scab on the left knee – the right one only had superficial scratches. I’ve done my share of butt falling, too. I cracked my tailbone on an icy driveway. That was NOT fun.

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  5. colleen said on January 15, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    I don’t usually fall, but I stumble. I’ve been on an adult precision team for about 8 years…the biggest cause of falls for the non jumpers is catching a toe pick. One minute you’re skating the next….blam…belly flop on the ice, and you’re not sure how it happened.

    If you’re gonna get off the sofa, you’re gonna get hurt. Wrapping kids in cotton batting isn’t the answer….

    But what do I know? When we were in school, we had a merry go round on the playground. In the first two months of school, three kids broke their ankles on it. Pretty sure they don’t have those now.

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  6. ashley said on January 15, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    The advantage of the hockey helmet over the bike helmet is that it can take multiple shots. The bike helmet should be replaced after one good hit.

    This, from a guy that mountain biked in a hockey helmet…it was more economical.

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  7. brian stouder said on January 15, 2007 at 4:41 pm

    In keeping with Ashley’s post on the Plastic People thread – I think the header on this thread might be the title of a UNESCO-produced anti-AIDS song….

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  8. Joe Kobiela said on January 15, 2007 at 7:48 pm

    Try and imagine if a white republican had said the same thing that Boxer said to Condie to a black democrat woman. That I think is the deal here. You would have had a call for there resignation.

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  9. John said on January 16, 2007 at 11:12 am

    I remember my son’s first skating lesson (in hockey-mad Grosse Pointe). He was 4 and had a hockey helmet on (half the fun of lessons for him then was getting a hockey helmet!) and took a particularly comical fall. His legs flailed. His arms flailed. His butt went skyward. And the first thing that hit the ice was his head. The THWACK that I could hear from across the rink made me feel good about that helmet. I am absolutely sure he would have been knocked unconscious or worse. I’m not one for overprotecting the kids either. But when they are that young, on slippery skates, over hard ice, helmets are good.

    As for knee pads, I recommend elbow pads before knee pads. The first time I ever rollerbladed I did not wear elbow pads, and broke my elbow. The emergency room doc said: rollerblade without knee pads and you’ll get a skinned knee. Rollerblade without elbow pads and you’ll get a broken elbow.

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  10. LA mary said on January 16, 2007 at 2:02 pm

    Years of bad ice skating on the pond near my house in NJ gave me lots of sprained wrists and a sore tailbone, but never any knee injuries.

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