Friday, January 23, 2015

Old School

I like to ice skate. Always have. I've only done it a handful of times in my adult years but it's like riding a bike. You just know what to do when you're back on the ice.

I want E to be able to skate. Not to play ice hockey but I want him to be able to hold his own on the ice. I just think it's a good skill. It's exercise, it's fun, and it's great for balance and coordination.

A year or two ago, I asked B about going and he refused. The only other thing he's flat out refused to do is ski. His feeling is that he's in his mid-forties and he can't afford to get hurt. It makes sense. He does need to work. He's not a big fan of the cold to begin with. His extremities have poor circulation and his hands and feet get cold to the point of pain. Bottom line is that he's just not doing it. So I thought I'd just take E by myself. That was interesting...

First place I went was the Ice House in Hackensack. It must have been the winter before last. I know I had looked up where I went as a kid- Mackay Park in Englewood and it was closed at that time. I'd heard of the Ice House and figured it would be fine. Uh, no. Not so much. The parking lot was a zoo. It was crazy there and I had a hard time parking. Then, it wasn't just an indoor rink. It was a bunch of rinks. Hockey people everywhere and just mass chaos. This was not the relaxing, fun, old school day I had been thinking it would be. I also liked the indoor/outdoor combo think Mackay offered.

E was really too young for me to try to get him out on the ice with any hope of independence. I should've signed him up for a lesson instead of trying to get him to learn from me, by myself. I had to hold him up the entire time I was there. I was dressed for the Alaskan tundra or whatever so I was sweating my behind off. I basically had to carry him around the ice. I don't think we made it that long and later that day through the next three days I thought my body would never recover. My arms were like lead weights. I decided we were not going back there. Not alone. If anything, I needed another set of hands.

Miraculously, Mackay Park opened back up for a limited time for the winter of 2014. I never made it there but that was good to know. I looked them up on New Years Day and saw they had an open skate time for that day. I told B that I wanted to go as a family. He agreed to go but he wasn't going on the ice. I said that was fine and off we went.

It was just as I remembered it. My parents never took me there. I had a neighbor friend when I was of elementary school age whose mom loved to do stuff like ice skating, baking, and other Suzie Homemaker kind of stuff. Her mom included me in all their activities and took me to the rink. My mom let me sign up for lessons since my friend's mom was going to take me. Well, I'm pretty sure they changed NOTHING. It looks like even the skates are the exact same ones from the 80's. I don't mean they looked the same- I mean, they looked to BE the same ones. I don't care. I love the whole atmosphere there.

Mackay Park is a combination of indoor and outdoor. You can see outside into the distance. It's a covered space but not enclosed. It's definitely no frills. No fancy skates or locker rooms. No big pro shop or indoor restaurant. The snack bar is exactly that- an old snack bar with some goodies to hold you over. The lockers are old. But the plus of it all- it isn't chaos in there. Parking was easy and stress-free. It's just people who want to skate. Now, I would've liked them to run a Zamboni over the rink after the hockey players left and before the public skate began but I guess they don't do that. I got spoiled on New Years Day when they didn't have hockey going on before the public skate. It was a bit choppy for E's taste and lack of balance. At some of the bigger places they allow you to use cones to balance while skating but I didn't see any or see anyone with any at Mackay. I could've used one New Years Day for sure. It was less carrying and holding up than the Ice House time but I was definitely in pain for three days after this time as well.

The cost isn't bad. It's $8/per person if you're not a resident and $4/per person to rent skates. If you're a resident, I think the cost is half that for entry. They do group lessons for figure skating and they do hockey programs. The figure skating lessons seemed really reasonable in price. There also seemed to be a party room too for children's parties. Not sure on that one though.

It's where you go just to skate. For the love of skating, and to get nostalgic. They play music, it isn't crowded, and you totally have the space to be able to get a 5-6 year old around a rink. I took E again the next weekend and got him to the point where he could go around the entire rink on his own without falling. I don't have time or money for any lessons this go-around so it's all about Mama. If that's all he gets to this winter, I'll consider it a success. I kind of feel like it's something *I* would like to get back into for the future. It's a little more interesting than the daily grind of the treadmill!

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