Our oldest son will be eleven in a couple of weeks, our youngest is nine and we have always been the sort of parents who keep a sharp eye on things. The boys are reasonably aware of the world but very inexperienced. They still voluntarily hold our hands when we are out in public, they kiss us upon waking, again when we tuck them in and sometimes in between. These are still childish activities that I relish because I know they will begin to occur less and less, most likely in conjunction with my own "cool" factor.
In the past several months I've noticed some changes in my older son, such as mouthiness and moodiness and a ridiculous amount of hair on his legs. Donald and I are chalking it up to pre-pubescence. Along with physical changes comes a growing need for independence. Since we nearly always stay on military bases when we travel we've been letting the boys wander the campground areas with walkie talkies, allowing them to test a bit of freedom in the trees or the playground.
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base has, and I quote, a "totally radical skate park" which happens to be just beyond the campground, about two blocks away. Out of eyesight but well within walkie talkie range. Our youngest son has held a minor interest in skating for a few years, having owned a cheapie, yard sale skateboard in Washington state but never really getting the hang of it. Plus, he's interested in just about anything that looks cool or dangerous. Skating is definitely both. Oh goodie.
We finally consented to let him go with a couple of boys his same age, equipped with walkie talkie, helmet, water and a borrowed board. He came home with stars in his eyes and I quote, again, "in love with the sound of the board." Oh goodie. For three afternoons he hung out a whole two blocks away and came home sweaty, filthy, exhausted and begging for a board of his own.
Our oldest son is the cautious sort, not one to jump on a bandwagon or participate in anything that could cause physical pain. He asked for something called a SoleSkate (smaller than a skateboard, triangular, with three wheels) at Christmas, which was something of a surprise because it took him three years to learn to ride a bike. I speculated, privately, about the number of years before he could master something without a seat and handles. He did not find a SoleSkate under the tree. This week he went to the skate park with his brother and a borrowed scooter and returned home, once again asking for a SoleSkate.
We are also not parents given to providing for our children's every whim. Rarely do they get treats at the store or gifts for any reason other than a national holiday. I know, I know, we're ogres. Believe me, we've heard it from the boys many times. Donald decided we should explore this opportunity since we still have two weeks living next to the skate park and the kids with the extra boards have moved on. We checked craigslist, second hand sports stores and pawn shops but finally found what the boys were looking for at Target. Thankfully this was not an expensive adventure!
I think it may be premature to call them skaters but they are having a good time, meeting friends and getting crazy amounts of fresh air and exercise. There have been a few minor injuries already and I fully expect major ones if they continue for any length of time. They are also getting to experience a little bit of necessary freedom beyond the parental eye but does not stop me from obsessively checking in with my walkie talkie!