Looking down the barrel of an empty day of vacation, I decided to take the three kids roller skating for their first time. In the morning, our destination did not seem so important as having one. By afternoon I was questioning my wisdom.
My kids are not yet comfortable on wheels. Sacrilegious it may be, but my native Californian children do not Rollerblade with kamikaze abandon. I thought it was time for training.
I, of course, roller skated as a child. We did not go to rinks in the days before neon. Back then roller skates attached to the soles of your shoes. Back then we had enough fun picking up speed going down a hill.
So my children and I went to this rink where you rent shoes with the wheels attached and speed around in circles to the beat of what I assumed to be the latest music.
We had an experience to remember. I had never before done the hokeypokey on skates; my 4-year-old had never skated his way inside a potty. (He was, to my delight, excited by the novelty.)
Previously, I had never thought of roller skating as exercise, but making the circuit helping three kids who couldn't skate wore me out.
My children reacted in characteristic fashion to the challenge of something new.
"I hate this. I'm gonna sit here the whole time," my 8-year-old announced after I laced his skates.
"Then why did you say you wanted to come?" I asked.
"I didn't. And I won't skate," he stated.
I left him for the other two.
My 6-year-old daughter reacted in her usual bulldog fashion. She kept at it, locked in an embrace with the wall, for more than two hours. I pulled her, I coaxed her, I showed her. Still she circled slowly, sliding one stiff leg after the other.
"I'm the only one falling," she moaned.
"No, you're not. They're dropping like flies," I reassured her.
"Oh, you're right," she said, pleased, as another child crashed.
My 4-year-old son laughed his way around the rink, chuckling every time his legs got away from him. I admired his style, even though his form required improvement.
Suddenly, I looked up to catch sight of my oldest skating methodically, if wobbly, solo around the rink.
"I'm warmed up now," he told me.
"Wow," my youngest breathed in admiration. "He's faster than Superman." I agreed, since moving was an improvement over sitting.
We had a good time, although I can't honestly say my kids approach championship material. I don't remember when I learned to skate, but I was a bit surprised they found it so difficult.
Then I remembered I also was not always good on wheels. I remembered learning to drive. My mother tried to teach me first.
"When I say 'turn left,' I mean turn left!" she screamed at me once. So I turned left -- across two lanes of traffic. She never took me driving again after she got that ticket.
When I was 23, my boyfriend took over the job. He said I was hopeless and wouldn't allow me to practice out of the parking lot. We had so many fights we almost didn't get married.
So I have faith that my kids will conquer roller skating. After all, it took me years to learn to drive.
But now I can steer with my elbows while I eat frozen yogurt, referee an argument and look at the map -- before we leave the driveway.