HTT: How To Skate Park

I feel a little silly saying this, but my son's new thing is skateboarding.

I mentioned it before, in The Most Dangerous Five, but I kinda sorta thought it was going to be one of those 'Try it' one or two times and get bored.

But the skate park has now become THE destination, after homework is finished and before I have to start dinner.

What's really weird is the evolution of this interest.

I mean, like all kids, there was that one christmas where he absolutely had to have a skateboard. he tried it one or two times that January, and then the skateboard got put away in the garage (the black hole of outdoor intentions) and simply wasn't thought about again for years.

Then, three years later and about four weeks ago, his cousin introduced him to a skateboard video game. Which lead to skateboard clips on the YouTubes, which lead to an innate desire to gear up and grind some rails.

Now . . . here is the reason people who wish to live a life of relative sanity should not have children.

If you were to mention, out loud, that movies, video games, and rock music inspire children to make bad decisions, I would laugh in your face and I would call you "Shut Up Tipper" for the rest of your life.


Even if I were to die before you, you would still receive christmas and birthday cards addressed to "Shut Up Tipper"

That's how strongly I feel about such nonsense.

But then I had children.

And I still feel the same way, but I never in a million years would think that a video game would inspire outdoor activity in the heart of a nine-year old. And even if it did, he would quickly learn that skateboarding isn't as easy as it looks and give up after about an hour.

But . . . well . . . no. He's hell bent on learning to jump curbs.

He's going to be an interesting adult.

Anyway, so now the Skate Park is the new thing. And thankfully, such a thing exists. We didn't have those when I was that stupid. Back in my day, when there were 7-Elevens and before the invention of kale, we had to find underground parking lots and empty swimming pools. Now the municipal skate park is located between the library and the indoor soccer field. It's open to the public for free, it's clean, well lit, and there are only a few reasonable rules posted:

Must Wear Protective Gear.
No Skateboarding after sunset.
No Smoking.
No Drinking.
No Koreans.
No Bicycles.
Yes on Prop 8.

What isn't posted, those things that would be most helpful, are skatepark etiquette, how to avoid death, what to expect when your progeny wants to be more like Tony Hawk than the kid you want him to be. You know . . . quiet . . . at the kitchen table . . . eating vegetables.

So for this week's How To Tuesday, pop in those ear buds and crank some Bad Brains to 6.5 and lets dive into a little lesson on Skate Parks:

Rule Number One: Protective Gear.
Find a way to make protective gear cool. Show your kid videos of how the pro-skaters do it. Also, and this is true, let them know that they'll get better faster if they wear elbow and knee pads. You think that's crazy, but the kid who is not afraid of falling down will learn the limits of his coordination easier. Also, ridicule the other kids for not wearing protective gear. We started calling them stupid-heads, which has escalated to jack-asses, and will eventually go as high as fuck-wits.

Even though Calvin gets teased by the neighborhood kids for wearing his helmut, he's a pretty good sport about keeping it on. And when he doesn't wear his knee pads and comes home crying with bloody road rash, I can laugh at him.

Rule Number Two: Pick a Lane.
There are all kinds of kids at all kinds of developmental levels learning tricks or showing off. Since your kid is most likely going to be spending time just learning a basic Ollie, make sure he/she does that off to the side and not right in the middle. There have been a few harrowing moments where I've watched a few older kids bail hard because they didn't want to crash into my nine year old.

However, it's important to note that middle-schoolers are total dickheads and high schoolers are stoned. The middle school kids race around on scooters (not skateboards) and will cut in and around the park with little regard to where everyone else is. None of them wear helmets. Their's will not be a good death. 

The high schoolers will sit in the corners for 20 minutes and then just decide to attempt a ramped kick flip out of nowhere. Tough to predict. But leads us to number three.

Three: Yes . . . there will most likely be a drug deal going on at some point.
There will be a bunch of kids racing around and then suddenly all is quiet and there's that one big kid with frizzy hair that shows up and stands with his back against the fence while everyone recedes to the corners to queue up, passing by the frizzy haired guy, slowing down, stopping, and then zooming back to the corner.

And you're gonna look at that and say to yourself, Oh My God . . . that's like totally a drug deal, and it's like totally happening fifteen feet from my baby boy . . . and Jesus Christ . . . was I that obvious at that age?

And the answer, unfortunately, is yes . . . Yes you were that obvious at that age.

The good thing is is that you . . . yes you . . . look like a narc. Your total lack of cool is a dead giveaway.  The stoners are going to be watching you with suspicion that looks a lot like intimidation, but it's all bravado. Stare 'em down hard and they'll back off quickly. Kids these days are scooter riding bitches.

Number Four: Pick a Soundtrack
I mentioned Bad Brains before, and you can definitely go the classic punk route. Skating is frenetic so speed and recklessness pairs well with The Ramones and Black Flag. You can always tell the dude with Bob Marley on shuffle cause he's the guy that moves more like a figure skater than a hockey player. I prefer the industrial of the early 90's, of which you only need to go out and get Downward Spiral. There is no single industrial album ever made that comes anywhere near it. The genre has been mastered.

Oh, and most importantly, always have some Ted Nugent. It's like a secret handshake.

Rule Five: Stay Hydrated.
Do I need to explain?

Rule Six:

and easily the most important rule.

No matter how much you want to . . . do not get on that board.

you will fall, and you will die.

Yes, you remember how easy it was back when all your joints were well lubed and you only weighed 135.

That's not you now.

You're not that guy any more.

But you're gonna want to get on that board and just maybe take it for just a little trip. Maybe just up and down the sidewalk. Just recapture a moment in time.

Don't do it.

You will fall.

And you will die.

And do you really want another man teaching your son how to play squash, or build furniture, or make the perfect pie crust?

No . . . you do not.

Stay off that board.

And lastly, try to remember that the skate park is not forever. He'll get bored.

Unless he doesn't. But soon enough he's really not going to want you there anyway, cause he's not going to be able to buy drugs while his dad is sitting on a park bench bobbing his head to Nine Inch Nails.

Man . . . you were so cool once.

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