Big changes in store when a soccer mom becomes a skateboard mom

Last year, after eight years of dedicated service, I was "fired" from my job as a soccer mom - without so much as a trophy.

Before I had time to take the situation to heart, another job was thrust upon me: skateboard mom.

My sterling player, who, as team captain, led his middle-school team to the playoffs, traded his goalie gloves for a skateboard. He and that skateboard have been inseparable for more than a year now.

Having been drafted into skater momhood, Ithought the particulars might be enlightening to skater moms-to-be.

The first thing you will notice is that you actually get to come home directly from work, a road not taken since kindergarten. Upon arrival, you encounter something that hangs thick in the air: time.

You might begin to fritter it away in idle pursuits, such as a uniform retread. Your former fancies, the bold numerals on soccer uniforms - cherry reds, royal blues, and emerald greens - have been co-opted by the gray terrain of adolescence. The preferred palette here ranges from subtle

shades of sweatshirt gray tofaded shades of sweatshirt black.

"Gabe, isn't this conformity just a bit ... well, conforming?"

"Get real, Mom," he says, and flashes the word Independent printed on his black T-shirt.

As you'll learn, the shabby chic of skaters comes with a large price tag. Overwhelmed by the current annual outlay for cleats, shin-guards, tube socks, and soccer uniforms? The

$75 skateboard shoe is a bimonthly investment; the soles dissolve like cotton candy. Those skating pants (wide enough to pull a skateboard through) are big on circumference, not on staying power. They yield to concrete after the 39th contact, and dissipate.

Better they than your son, you tell yourself.

Speaking of safety, don't be too hard on your soccer player for forgetting his shin guards. Skateboarding stunts require heavier equipment. The prognosis for their use? The helmet will stay on for about a month. The wrist, elbow, and knee pads will be shed sequentially before your child turns 14. (Along with a substantial degree of parental authority.)

Afteryour former status as an icon ofmotherhood, how steep is the fall? Let's peek.

You have just returned from work. The garage door is flung open. Four gray, hooded sweatshirts - inhabited - sit on the garage floor, expertly handling your husband's tools.

"Hi," you say with a smile.

"Hi," they say.

You prepare for further chitchat; they return to nuts and bolts. Later, a bite of pizza, and they're gone.

That's it: the limit of your interaction with your son'sfriends. Eight years of team-mothering, water toting, orange slicing, have led to this. Zip.

Each soccer-season Saturday, you reminded your son to fill his water bottle. He did. On this Saturday, you ask your skater to take his lunch. He seizes a bottle of water. "I'm not hungry, Mom," he yells on the way out. Six hours later he returns.

"How was it?" you ask.

"Great," he says. "I landed a nollie 360 pop shove-it."

You let the mystery lie. He looks happy.

"What have you eaten?" you ask.

"Ice chips," he says. "Oh, yeah, and a bag of fries."

After more than a year, I've concluded that it's not the soccer I miss, it's my son the soccer player. Via a skateboard, he's traveled from pre-adolescence to adolescence. He's been more fearless than I, and for that I'm grateful. I'm almost ready to begin catching up.

Anna Gordon is a mother and writer in San Francisco.

Parents: To submit a first-person essay on your own parenting experiences, send an e-mail to home@csps.com.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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