Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Grabbin' some air

Sunday morning before work and my 4½-year-old son is unwrapping the cellophane from his new skateboard.
His former skateboard met a quick demise — not at his hands, or feet rather, but the neighborhood boys.
Y left his board down the street at a friend’s house overnight, forgotten. The next morning it was cleanly broken in half. My husband thought it the work of some neighborhood hooligans, I envisioned someone trying to jump the curb and it snapping on the axis point.
So Y's got a SpongeBob SquarePants board now, K-Mart’s finest.
And he’s demonstrating to me how to do a kickflip, then an ollie, an 180 and 360. Y adds in a couple of other tricks he says his dinosaur taught him (imaginary friend alert): the flower, the grass and the toe-twister. All these are of increasing difficulty, all end with a tumble over the concrete sidewalk onto our lawn, with Y subsequently scrambling up unscathed.
(He’s our little stuntman-in-the-making.)
Y’s fascination with the skateboard began when he was just under a year old and I would prop him up in my window at work, in the former Middletown Press building on Main Street (since demolished). We had quite a view from the second floor of the neighborhood skateboarders down below who often used our stairway as a jumping ground and gathering place. Every day around 2 p.m. I’d hear the crack of wood and wheels on concrete, as jump after jump was perfected.
One day at age 3, Y ran home after being at work with me and grabbed his older brother’s never-used skateboard from the cellar, then proceeded to replicate the moves he’d witnessed on our wood floors. It was so cute we let him continue.
Almost two years later, it’s not so cute — or harmless — in the living room anymore.
So, he’s been relegated to the sidewalk outside our house, where boys and teens whiz by on skateboards and waveboards, showing each other the tricks they’ve learned.
One funny scene unfolded while I was sitting on a yard chair knitting, keeping an eye on things.
A 10-year-old boy watched Y work his board, then asked, “Can you do an old-school pogo?”
“What’s that?” Y asked.
K put the board perpendicular to the ground, stepping on the lower set of wheels with both toes, then hopped vertically three or four times.
“Sure I can!” Y piped, and proceeded to replicate it exactly.
About an hour later, the boy had drifted off to other neighborhood activities.
Three boys walked down the sidewalk toward me, carrying their boards, the oldest in the lead, followed by younger and younger boys.
Y silently brought up the rear, unknown to them.
“Hey, looks like you guys have an honorary member of your skateboarding team.”
They looked back, then laughed.
Then they all stopped to hang out.
Y started doing his patented jumping-on-the-board-then-ollie move.
“Hey, Y! How the heck are you doing that?” one boy yelled.
Y proceeded to show him. No one could replicate his spritely move.
“Hey guys, look at this!” he yelled. “This is an old-school pogo!”
The kids were fascinated, then proceeded to try the trick out for themselves.
No wonder he wants to keep up with the big boys.
He admires them.
And they’re starting to return the favor.

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