Demolition derby… on ice.

Forget everything you think you know about human behaviour. For an honest assessment, watch a group of kids at play.

This weekend we celebrated our middle son’s eighth birthday by taking him, his brothers and some of his friends ice skating. This was a great and obvious plan for a winter birthday, save for one exception. None of the kids knew how to ice skate.

Not to be deterred however we pressed onward. My plan was simple, the kids would learn to ice skate the way I did; by falling repeatedly until that pain became so unbearable that they had no other option but to learn how to stay upright. Of course, our modern and more sensitive world offered a gentler solution.

Tiny plastic ice walkers.

It’s exactly the kind of thing that would have gotten me beat up when I was their age. I was appalled when the young lady who rented the ice skates offered to me the option of ice walkers for the kids. Then I looked towards the rink…

Everyone had these tiny ice walkers, even adults.

“Not on my watch.” I thought to myself.

This is where I would take my stand. The coddling, the perpetual infantilization of our children wherein for emotionally selfish reasons, we never relinquish control… I alone would stand and fight.

Then I looked towards the wobbly kneed gaggle of young men before me who could barely so much as stand upon the rubber floor in their skates and my sucker of a heart betrayed me.

“Give me the ice walkers.” I said to the young lady.

And so we hobbled, one by one with our brightly colored, plastic walkers down the ramp and onto the ice.

I put on a brave face even though deep down, I knew that a piece of my soul had just died. That’s when we got onto the ice and the most amazing thing began to happen; The kids, without prompting from myself, formed two teams and tried to kill each other.

It was demolition derby… on ice.

I realized then that the ice walkers weren’t crutches at all but weapons of war. These kids weren’t slackers but rather innovators. Innovators set upon gleefully trying to destroy one another.

They crashed and they smacked and they screamed. They soared like tiny Celtic warriors into battle at first light. I screamed right along with them and smiled warmly to myself as I realized that no matter what safety measures we try to enforce upon this generation; kids are still kids.

The ice skating didnt last long but the battle was ferocious nonetheless. We left the rink, ate pizza and cupcakes and then ended the night with some digital battle on the Nintendo. Over the course of the party I witnessed these young men be fearless, encouraging, loving, savage, wild and free.

Tiny, plastic ice walkers or not; there was no “lesser than” at all with these boys. If anything they are everything great that I remember from my own childhood and more. In a world that is hell bent upon shielding our children from adversity, they seem to be thriving.

I suppose you can take the kid out of the fight but you cant take the fight out of the kid.