I love to roller skate. Because I grew up in the 70's and 80's, I learned to skate on traditional, quad skates. As a kid, I would skate on my street, which was basically a dead-end, so it was safe. And going to the roller rink for birthday parties or just to hang out was a regular occurrence. Plus the 80's had fantastic movies like "Xanadu" which featured roller skating. And I don't know about you, but this girl wanted to be just like Olivia Newton-John.
When I was around 12 or 13, I got my own pair of skates--white boots, red wheels and toe stops, and sparkly red and silver laces. I still have those skates to this day. And because I didn't bother growing much during puberty, these skates still fit! Now, I'm not a great skater. I can't cross one leg over the other as I skate or go backwards or do tricks. I also can't skate using rollerblades. I tried, but they just don't work for me. But in my old-school skates, I can go forwards, not fall, and stop. I feel like these are the basic necessities in skating.
In 1997, I was in a play where I played a roller-skating clown. Yes, you read that correctly. A roller-skating clown. And in 1999, I would even roller skate to work a couple times a week because I lived 3 miles away and it was a straight shot down Ventura Blvd. from Coldwater to Sepulveda. (I would get a ride home though, cause after that 3 miles, I was exhausted!)
In 2000, I moved to an area with hills and busy streets, so my skating significantly decreased. But there is a skating rink near my area. The Moonlight Rollerway. I actually first went to this rink before I had kids. Two of my friends had their wedding reception there and it was bitchin'. And, much like riding a bike, I can put my skates on and start rolling. After having kids, my daughter Moira was invited to birthday parties and would have Girl Scout events at Moonlight. I know that I took Moira on her own to one of these events, trying to teach her how to skate, which is always a dangerous endeavor. It's less about skating and more about making sure your kiddo doesn't fall, wiping out even more skaters.
But another time, I needed to take Soren with Moira to Moonlight. By this time, Moira was better at skating on her own and Soren was using a wheelchair. I thought, "Hey, I'm allowed to use my outdoor roller skates on the rink. Soren's chair has wheels. I bet I can skate with him on the rink! This will be so much fun!" But when I arrived at Moonlight, I discovered that there were only steps to get in--no ramp. This seemed so weird to me. You have people on wheels, why wouldn't you have a ramp? They didn't even have a ramp around back. So I hauled Soren and his chair up the steps (thankfully both were smaller at this point, but it was still rather tricky). Once I got up the stairs, I asked if I could skate around the rink with Soren in his chair. The answer? No.
I was very annoyed. How were my wheels or the wheels of someone's rollerblades any different than the wheels on his chair? As long as we weren't causing a hazard on the rink, why couldn't we be allowed on? Plus I was really excited to share something I love with Soren. Instead, he had to hang out on the sidelines, either with me or other moms. I went out on the floor a couple times, skating by myself or with Moira. But I felt so bad for Soren not getting to participate. After that, I didn't return to Moonlight.
Fast forward to late 2016. I was on Facebook and saw a post from my friend. Her son is also disabled, and while he can walk, roller skating wouldn't be a safe activity for him. This boy often uses a chair as well. And my friend posted a video of her roller skating while pushing her son in a chair at a roller rink! I commented to her immediately. Where was this? Her answer: Moonlight Rollerway. WHAT? I asked if they now had a ramp. YES! And they allowed chairs on the rink? YES!!!!
Finally! I would be able to skate with Soren! Because life is busy, we didn't actually get there until December when we were invited to this same boy's birthday party. I put on my skates and pushed Soren around and around that rink. He was wiggly and adorable, clearly enjoying it. It was amazing, just as I'd always imagined.
In fact, we had so much fun, we went back this week. Soren and I met up with one of his other friends who also uses a wheelchair. His mom and I had a blast skating our boys around. When we were done, someone from Moonlight came up to us and asked if we had a good time. I told her we did. Though next time we go, I'm going to be sure to thank her for making the roller rink inclusive. It's so hard to find things that Soren enjoys. And we've tried many, many things. So it's wonderful to discover that Soren loves whooshing around the rink with the disco lights flashing and the music blaring just like his mom.
Time to show him "Xanadu!"