This blog is a collection of my thoughts and experiences from ten years as a skate dad. For those of you sitting with your jackets in the bleachers, first I salute you, but second I want to give you an honest sense of what you are in for and what to expect. Ice skating is both a trying and a glorious sport, but it doesn't happen without the special group of folks who cheer, support, and console the participants. This is dedicated to you.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

- the sparkly bludgeon

When you are considering dropping a few hundred more dollars onto yet another competition skating dress, do you go through the same mental gyrations as me? Sure it's a new program this year and the old dress doesn't "fit" the new music. Yeah your little girl has grown several inches since the last purchase so the stretch fabric is a bit tighter. Yeah all of her skating friends got new dresses this year. Yeah your kid is dedicated and serious and loves the sport and wants to look like Ashley Wagner.

So is this just the price of entry? Is it just what is required every year by the sport, on top of coaching fees, competition fees, ballet teacher fees, skate sharpening? Also, do you expect something from your child in return? Do you tell your dear child that Daddy will be happy to get her that new dress if.... she passes her MIF? If she gets at least a B average the next time she gets her homeschool grades? If she practices the entirety of all of her freestyles? I rather agree with Xan here where she says...

... as parents we often want the best for our children forgetting that sometimes the best gift we can give them is for them to work hard and as a result of that hard work get the solo or the dress that is needed for that higher level or the skates that they need to compete at the higher level.

Yet I'm not necessarily sure that a parent should withhold a new dress as a bludgeon over her child's head to force behavior either. I think the money that you spend on your daughter's dress should be just slightly more than skill-appropriate: you want her to feel exceptionally good about her appearance on the ice, but you don't want to foment jealousy amongst her fellow competitors (nor do you want to escalate a dress buying war amongst the parents). And you want to encourage her to work hard without demoralizing her with an embarrassingly understated costume.

It's a fine balance. Plus maybe there's a bit of unstated inference that culturally you expect a certain sort of womanly behavior as she matures -- you want to set some guidelines that she might adhere to as she grows into eventually buying her own wardrobe for herself.

Not to put any pressure on you parents....

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