Surviving the skatepark - children and dignity intact
Skateparks - concrete wonderland or urban hazard best avoided? Dad Matters columnist Sam Cummins explains his survival strategy.
There are few topics in child rearing I'm qualified to provide advice on. In fact, I can't really think of any. I could provide some advice on how to conceive boys, but unless you're double jointed, like heavy metal and have a lunar calendar, it will be no use to you at all.
I have, however, spent a considerable amount of time at skateparks. Both pre-kids and post. I’m no full-time lurker, but I've probably picked up enough to provide a few helpful hints to help you survive the next weekend scooter trip.
The weird thing is I don’t like them. I wouldn't say I hate them, but it’s pretty close.
Skateparks represent a lazy public policy. The kids are bored - let’s make a park! The well-networked ex-playcentre president got elected to the community board just as her 10-year-old learnt how to jump his scooter. Cool. It's like councils have shares in concrete companies.
Go to the skatepark in the morning and it's a picture of peace and harmony. In the harsh light of the afternoon, however, it's a different story. Thousand yard stares, bad teeth. The thump of Tupac from the back of a CRX. Monster energy drink cans everywhere.
Want little Max to have a good time without having to explain to him the failings of the welfare state and the effect of absentee dads? Try these simple rules for surviving the skatepark:
- Get there early and leave before 11am - teenagers and degenerates need their sleep. In the morning you will be with like-minded people.
- Make your kids wear shoes - there will be a smashed bottle somewhere and their feet will find it. Don't be lazy.
- Scooter or skateboard, teach them to push with their back foot. As horrific as scootering is, it's worse mongo.
- You can't stop them crashing - but you can control your reaction when they do. This is their opportunity to act tough, don't ruin it for them.
- Get them to try something new and difficult - they'll fell like a boss.
- But don't be this guy - Rad dads are the worst
- Another kid is going to try and "borrow" your kid's scooter/skateboard/bike for a turn. Let them. But only once and only for three minutes.
- Prison rules apply to eye contact. You'll figure it out.
- Anyone over twenty without a skateboard or sans-kids represents extreme stranger danger, times two if in track pants, times three if riding a scooter. Make the most of this ideal opportunity teach the kids about stranger danger.
- Dads, do not try and relive your youth. It does not end well. You are old and soft. The concrete is not.
And a word about girls - but please don't take this the wrong way:
I don't have daughters, but I've got nieces I’ve grown pretty fond of, and the last place I'd want them spending anytime is the local skatepark. The risks outweigh the benefits. I'm not suggesting sabotaging the handlebars or loosening the trucks, but I think you understand. There could be worse things happen than your little girl having a wipeout and never wanting to go back.
It's 2016 you say - well I say go down to Papakura Skatepark on Saturday afternoon and show me someone you'd like your little princess to turn into. Good Luck. That said, there are always exceptions to the rule. Check out the Pink Helmet Posse, but please remember: exception to the rule!
So that's it - I hope your next roll with the kids is a heap of fun. Keep on Thrashin.
Sam Cummins lives in the Bay of Plenty with his wife and three young sons. In his in-law's garage. Which pretty much sums up everything you need to know about him.
Click on the link to read Sam's 'no holds barred' perspectives on people-movers, sex after the new baby arrives and red hair in real life.