It was never going to be easy, I knew this from the moment I agreed to the task, but I didn’t even come close to imagining how hard it would really be.
Last night, when it was all over I fell back into my old, comfy white arm chair that is marked with biro and brought the cool glass of Pinot up to my lips and silently clapped myself on the back, content in the knowledge that I had survived and had not been guilty of killing someone else’s kids.
I must confess when I agreed to go ahead I was not in full possession of the facts, the children caught me on a weak day and they begged and pleaded until eventually I snapped, grabbed my mobile and dialled the number…
“Hullo,” I stammered, “is that the Ice Rink? Can I book a children’s party? Oh I can, any time? Yes? umm for fourteen children, between ages 5 and 7, and no, I doubt most of them will have skated before.”
And that was that, I reeled off a twelve digit number and pledged a donation that could have taken me to a stunning spa for the weekend and the date was set, in order to celebrate turning seven the twins were taking me plus twelve skating.
Naively I thought it would be ok, and I cheerily told he who helped create them that evening what I had done. He looked at me with an expression of bemusement and abject horror, “you are insane,” he declared whilst grabbing a beer from the fridge. I explained that it would be ok, he could take seven and I could take seven and he fixed me with a stare from his blue eyes,
“I can’t skate woman! I am a bloke.”
I spent my Fridays nights pre drinking age on an Ice Rink, mainly skating after younger versions of blokes; I presumed my other half had a similar upbringing.
You know what they say when your presume something….
Quickly I dialled the number back and explained I needed help and the kind receptionist told me if I gave her the magic twelve digit number again she could give me an instructor for half of the lesson and then I was on my own. I handed over an amount similiar to the cost of a weekend in Prague and I secured the services of a young man for thirty whole minutes.
This was a month ago, since then I have dreaded the sound of blade cutting ice, dreamt about kids with severed fingers and consumed much gin in order to forget. Yet still the day arrived and I found myself barking at excited children rushing up and down a line fastening skate laces whilst trying to keep calm.
“Boots down, DOWN, on the floor, do not see if they can remove your arm, the blades are sharp SHARP child, put the bloody boot down.”
I regretted not bringing a hip flask immediately.
We hit the ice, me, fourteen kids under seven, and four fantastic parents who decided to stay and protect their offspring. The instructor joined us and muttered under his breath, “any first timers?” I muttered back, “ten.” “Expect tears,” he said matter of fact and then skated away, skidding to a halt in front of the children who all looked dangerously wobbly on ice.
Two minutes into the lesson and the first child hit the ice like a brick being tossed from a carpark roof. The first of many sobs echoed across the rink and an angry lump rose on his brow. Swearing I swished across the ice to him offering words of comfort and promising ice packs and chocolate. Two minutes later he was away, grinning with his friends wearing his welt like a medal.
It was carnage.
Some wobbled, some walked, some took the kamikaze approach, I don’t think there was any one moment when they were all standing upright together.
But they loved it. It seemed to cause them all anguish and pain but yet they smiled through as myself and the other grownups skating round picking them up and on occasion he who helped create them administered water and sympathy from the side.
We all survived.
We all made it home with only one blister, one lumpy eyebrow and one missing sock.
That wine tasted like little drops of heaven, there is no better feeling than not killing someone else’s kids!