My family has recently become addicted to the brilliant show Man vs. Wild on the Discovery Channel. In case it hasn't yet been broadcast under your rock, allow me to briefly explain. Bear Grylls, a strapping young former member of the British Special Forces, allows himself (and his camera crew) to be stranded in various survival situations, and rescues himself. Thanks to the glory of TiVO, I can follow Bear's adventures on my own time, including his voyage to Utah's Moab Desert.
During this trip, Bear was forced to overcome the treachery of 120-degree heat. As I watched him cut up a perfectly good white t-shirt and wrap it around his head for a headdress, then urinate on it to increase the cooling effects of this survival technique, I was forced to wonder if Bear's mother had ever rethought her efforts to push her now-urine-soaked child into a life of outdoor sporting adventure.
Grateful that my children typically do not cover themselves in their own urine (except when my two-year-old has an unfortunate mishap with her Pull-Ups), I reflected on my children's participation in the sporting life. And so, I present...
Ten Reasons that, Despite Widespread Popular Opinion, Figure Skating is a Good Choice for Children...
1. Weather - Practices and competitions, while chilly, are always climate-controlled. You may think this is of minor relevance. If so, I invite you to attend a swim meet in Greater Phoenix in the summer, then reconsider how minor the weather factor really is.
2. Laundry - While figure skating does require a certain amount of handwashing with Woolite, or your preferred eco-friendly alternative for delicates, in order to protect valuable sequins and crystals, there is no lung-burning bleach or industrial disinfectant necessary. Hockey and football moms aren't so lucky, and can be easily identified by the bleach splatter marks on their clothes and the involuntary dry heave as they walk by a locker room or pick up their kid's gear after practice.
3. Recycling - As opposed to other areas of life, recycling - as in wearing the blingy dresses of former champions - is cool. Environmentally conscious Momzillas can translate this into a larger lesson of social responsibility.
4. Professional Opportunities - These days, with 4 Holiday on Ice tours overseas and multiple productions of High School Musical On Ice in the works, figure skating actually can lead to lucrative professional opportunities, thus turning it into a veritable life skill. It's not plumbing, but it'll pay for college...
5. Valuable Skills in skating do not include urinating on one's improvised headdress to keep cool.
6. Safety - The bling ubiquitous to figure skating certainly increases visibility, and may even be a safety feature in heavy traffic conditions.
7. Traffic Skills - Speaking of traffic, many tween years of navigating overcrowded freestyle skating sessions will undoubtedly lead to excellent driving skills, particularly in spectacular traffic cities like my beloved Boston.
8. Etiquette - Curtsying is often required at the conclusion of on-ice and off-ice classes. I really think that this is one of the greatest perks of the sport. Now, if there was only a section on thank you notes and a reminder of which fork to use for what, we'd be able to name new moves after Emily Post.
9. Foreign Language Education - The required ballet classes will teach even the most xenophobic youngster some French. As in, "It's not a curtsy, Mom. It's reverence." (spoken after ballet class)
10. Economics - After being involved with figure skating, any child will understand the value of a dollar by constant exposure to the question, "DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MUCH THIS COSTS?"