Not too long ago, Sean was invited to a roller skating birthday party. It was at a big roller skating rink where several birthday parties were held at the same time making it unclear which kid belonged to which party. It was one big crazy mass of rolling kids all jacked up on icing which makes for good times indeed.
Much to my dismay, my son does not have the skating mojo. Skating to me is the equivalent of say, walking or breathing. It is unthinkable to me that anyone could not automatically know how to skate. Or swim for that matter. I understand that mathematicians feel the same way — how can one not know how to do math? I don’t know but I don’t. My brain don’t bend that-a-way. So in theory I understand that some people can’t skate. In practice, I do not.
Be that as it may.
Unfortunately, Sean does not understand that he does not have the skating mojo. He imagines that he does. I think this imagining comes with the Y chromosome package, the delusional tendencies towards overestimation about ones looks and abilities. But I have no scientific research to back that up. Along with sweeping over-generalizations and invented facts and other bad habits, I digress as well.
Anyway, Sean wants me to go along side of him and “help” him skate. What helping means is that he slips and slides and flails and twists and clomps along as he claws at my clothing while I wrench my back trying to “help” him stay upright. This is not fun. For me. It is exhausting is what it is. And after about 5-minutes of this I am somewhat not having fun.
So at about the 6-minute mark, I go sit down and send his father in as my replacement so that he might partake of the fun as well.
As I’m sitting there watching the swarm of seven-year-olds circling the rink like a pack of drunken and disorderly bees, I notice that none of them seem to have the skating mojo and I wonder if this because kids today (anytime you use the phrase “kids today” you are automatically OLD) don’t get out and roller skate on the sidewalk like I used to when I was seven. Probably because of all the newly discovered dangers of CONCRETE and the need of helmets and pads and whatnot.
But then my attention is turned away from the swarm and towards what sounds like a wrecking ball. I see a boy about Sean’s age wearing in-line skates standing in front of a video machine of some sort. The machine has apparently trespassed against this boy and he is kicking the skunk out of it with his skates. Not just a little tap-tap, nudge-nudge, but an all out repeated whacking with the toe of his skate. (Yeah, I know. He might have issues. I shouldn’t judge. I should give him a hug and help him explore his feelings. Gotcha.)
Had it been one of Sean’s classmates, I might have hollered, “Hey Dude! KNOCK it off!” But I didn’t know this
thug child and I was kind of shocked to see such a fearless display, such a blatant abuse of public property. I was stunned quite frankly and so I just sort of stared at him and I tried to make sense out of what I was seeing.
I looked around to see which gal was is his mother, which gal was going to swoop in on her broom and open up a can of Crazy Lady on him. Because that’s what I woulda done had it been Sean. That is what any mother I knew would do, so I assumed that Machine Kicker was with one of the other skating parties, not ours.
But no mother swooped in and he continued his rage against the machine, giving it a proper beating. I did notice a gal nearby watching him in a disinterested manner as she chatted away on her cell phone. Perhaps she was calling the authorities. Perhaps like me, she was stunned and had no idea who this kid was. Perhaps his mother had dropped him off and he was here by himself, free to express his feelings. Perhaps.
Later, as the party is wrapping up, I see my friend who is hosting the party chatting up the woman on the cell phone and standing next to her is Machine Kicker himself, thanking the hostess for a lovely time. For the second time that day, I was stunned. I could not believe that Machine Kicker was one of us!
And that’s just the problem. All the machine kickers are one us, on some level, and we don’t quite know what to do about it.