Amongst Sapphire's many Christmas presents was a pair of roller blades. Most of her seven year old mates have them, and she had been subtlely hinting to us all 2006 that she'd also like to own a pair. Her tactics have included hand-written 'Please Can I have Roller Blades for Christmas' notes left in my handbag and dramatic sighs followed by, "It must be nice to learn how to roller blade, mustn't it Mum?"
Being the caring and responsible parents that we are, Love Chunks and I made sure that the gift also included knee protectors, elbow pads and wrist guards plus the caveat of having to wear her bike helmet at all times. We escorted her to the school's empty basketball court so that she could hang on to the edge of the fence whilst trying out her new wheels.
As all kids under the age of, say, thirty tend to do, she easily got into the balance and rhythm of the blades and was confidently rolling around the edges unaided by fence or parental arm by the third lap. At the same time, LC and I were confident enough to not feel nauseous with worry each time she said, "Whoah".
Several days later, we were staying with my folks at Victor Harbor and I said one of the stupidest things so far for 2007. "Hey Sapphire," my brainwaves vomited out into an audible sentence, "I used to do this when I was a kid. We called it roller skating then and I loved it."
*Sigh*, fools never learn, do they? Love Chunks immediately chipped in with, "Well why don't you also get yourself a pair and have a go with Sapphire?" Er thanks husband dear. Perhaps you should put your sunglasses on to disguise that evil twinkle in your big blue eyes.
"Yeah, why don't you Mum? It'll be great!"
Dogadoo, Grandma and Sapph went walking with me as I reluctantly visited the town's four surf'n'sport'n'skateboard stores, blushing as I asked if they had a size seven pair of adult roller skates - oops, sorry blades or whatever the newfangled thingamajigs were called these days. Shop four had a pair, in my size and they fit rather well. Certainly better than the black coal miner rental boots from 1979 that always resulted in two fist-sized blisters on the back of each heel and ringing ears from hearing 'My Sharona' on wonky cassette tape being played for two hours straight.
The following morning it was time to try the scary things out. My elbows were securely wrapped in black pads, my hands and wrists were clad in what looked like kick-boxing equipment and all circulation below my knees had ceased after squeezing the knee protectors on. At least the constant buzz of pain might keep my mind off the fear of falling, I reasoned.
Love Chunks drove us over to a nice, flat and smooth section of the town's bike path. Sapphire started rolling off, confidently and gracefully, calling "Come on Mum" over her shoulder to encourage me. Nervously I stepped from the security of the gutter onto the path and ----- whammo!---- did an instant wheel-led half-somersault that resulted in the planting of my sweating face into the bark chips on the other side.
Determinedly ignoring Sapph's and LC's laughter, I tried again. For the first time in my entire life, I was glad that I had been given a huge, sticky-out arse as it proved to be excellent ballast whilst I arthritically bent over and quakingly moved another step. No fall this time and at least 30 centimetres travelled. The third step was a roll this time, so was the fourth, fifth, sixth......
"Whoo Hoo, MillyMoo - it's all coming back to ya" yelled out Love Chunks from the relative safety of the park bench.
"Mum! Mum move over to the left - some bikes and a pram are coming along!"
Lordy lordy - my grey matter somehow remembered that a pigeon-toed pose was the best way to slow down, but couldn't follow through with what I had to do in order to stop. Besides, the brake dooflangers were now only on my back right shoe and not the huge rubber cheezels that were screwed on the front of the hire shoes in the days of 'Video Killed the Radio Star' and 'Turning Japanese'. Hence, it came as no surprise to land on my well-padded backside and smile politely as the father patronisingly commented on 'What a nice Mum you are to try something with your daughter.'
His wife, on the other hand, merely looked at me with a 'get past her quick' expression on her face, as though I was some kind of lunatic who'd start talking to her or drooling on the baby. Never mind - at least Sapphire and LC were being entertained by my efforts.
More 45-degree angled-rolls occurred, and suddenly my arms starting swaying out either side of their own volition. It was coming back to me - perhaps it was time to see if I still had it in me to try a wee circle ---- whammo!---- another instant wheel-led half-somersault that again rather rammed my face rather unbecomingly into the bark chips on the other side. "Good on yer Mum," Sapphire called from several kilometres away, or so it seemed. "Aren't ya glad you've got your guards on?"
Yes indeed. Keep trying, keep trying, remember you're more padded up than an inflatable sumo suit at the fun fair, keep trying..... An elderly lady walked past me with her poodle straining at it's leash to try and nip my feet. Then, shame of shame - she stopped and slow-clapped me as I went past. That wasn't the worst of it - clearly she thought I was a 'special and brave' kind of person who was successfully learning how to live and play on my own in the big scary world. "Good effort, dear. It's lovely to see you enjoying yourself so much."
It was too much effort to lift my bulging eyes from the safety of the footpath to meet her eyes and explain to her that I was a happily married, tertiary educated and gainfully employed mother, because the blades hit a loose patch of gravel and flung me into the gutter. Perhaps she had the right impression after all.