Roller Bubby

The skater boy. (Phone photo sent to Grandma in real time!)Megan, a pre-K teacher, had her first roller skating night with her students Wednesday night.

It was also her first roller skating experience with Bubby!

Believe it or not, they make itsy-bitsy Fisher Price roller-skates for tots. And the PR woman for the local roller rink told Megan that two-year-olds actually learn to skate quicker than four- or five-year-olds. Reason being, according to the PR woman, that the little ones have shorter legs and less fear. I'm not sure why, but the 'shorter legs' part struck me as funny.

So Megan took her shorter-legged little Bubby along for the event. And he did great! It took him a bit to get used to the skates and to not be shy around the bigger kids, but Megan said he eventually got the hang of it. His lack of smiles and giggles stumped Megan a bit, though, so she asked her serious-faced little boy, "Are you having fun? Do you like it?" to which the concentrating kiddo said only, "I like it!"

All in all, Bubby fell just twice in his four times around the rink. That's four times around a big ol' rink for a little boy who's not yet two years old and not yet three feet tall. Oh, and who has shorter legs!

I find it interesting that of all the things that have changed in the past 30, 40, 50 years, that roller skating is still a hit with the kids. Consider the changes in nearly all aspects of childhood, everything from 3D ultrasounds and diaper genies to fancy-schmancy game systems and cell phones. But slapping on a pair of wheels and whizzing around a rink still appeals. Even in the disastrous economic climate of the last year or two, roller skating rinks prevail.

As a preteen, I loved roller skating night. It meant so much more than just skating. The outings weren't school-sponsored, as there was no rink in our small town, but my best friend's mom was happy to transport a group of giddy preteens "down the pass" from our mountain town to the city, to Skate City -- the old Skate City ... with all-wood floors.

Fifteen or so kids would hop in the back of Miss Leona's pickup in the late afternoon and huddle under the piles of blankets to stay warm. (Note: I would never in a million years allow my daughters to ride in the back of a pickup. But this was back in the days when people did that. Legally.) On the trip down the pass, the girls would be on one side of the truck, the boys on the other. (Yes, it was co-ed. But again, it was back in the day ... when hanky-panky between preteens wasn't even a consideration.)

Travel time was about 30 minutes, but it felt like hours as our excitement would reach fever pitch. Finally, we'd reach Skate City, spill out of the truck and into the rink, where we'd don our skates and scatter to the floor. Some of us were pros on the floor, crossing over feet at the turns, skating backwards, winning the limbo and speed contests, attracting the attention of the city kids with our prowess.

I wasn't one of those kids. I usually stayed within arm's length of the wall for the first hour or so, then eventually ventured out closer to the center. Near the end of the two-hour session I could even get up enough speed to get my long hair fluttering as I'd whiz (relatively speaking, that is) around the corners ... sometimes even managing to cross over my feet on the turns. And sometimes I'd even be asked to join hands with an equally awkward preteen boy for the slow skate.

Then the session would be over.

We'd all pile back into the truck and under the blankets for the trip back up the pass. It was far colder by that time and the huddling was a little more intimate than during the trip down. The girls' legs became entangled with the boys' and we'd all laugh and joke, keeping our heads under the blanket trying to stay warm and out of the wind.

It was joyous, innocent fun, those nights at the roller skating rink. And I'm thrilled to know the roller skating rituals continue, that Bubby will experience the wind in his own wheels. Starting at such a young age, I can only assume he'll be one of those preteens who can skate backward, win the limbo, dominate the speed contests. That's just a guess, of course.

But all guessing aside, I can pretty much guarantee that Bubby will never, ever, ever get to the rink by riding in the back of a pickup truck. That part of roller-skate nights has definitely changed.

Some changes of the last 30, 40, 50 years are for darn good reason!

Today's question:

When was the last time you roller skated?

My answer: Probably 20 years ago, when helping the girls around the rink during their first roller skating nights in elementary school. Gah! Get me to a rink quick, before I get too old!