Frozen wonderlands: but some of us should never skate!
THE MIDDLE one bounces home from school, just before the Christmas holidays, with a big announcement.
"We're going ice-skating," she says. I look at her. No we're not, I think. The last time somebody in this family went ice-skating, he broke his elbow. He's still doing the physiotherapy exercises.
"With my year in school," she says, correctly reading my mind.
"Oh, right. When?"
"Tomorrow. Can't wait! I've never been ice-skating."
There is a good reason for that, but I decide to keep my negative thoughts on snow and ice to myself.
Where everyone dresses up and girls get proposed to...seriously romantic.
"You know, I don't know why we don't have permanent ice-skating rinks in Ireland. We could get in practice, then. Oh, you know what would be brilliant? A huge frozen lake like they have in New York at Christmas.
"Where everyone dresses up and whizzes around in circles, and girls get proposed to, and there's restaurants and cafes all around it, and you can drink your hot chocolate and look out. Seriously romantic, Mum."
Seriously unrealistic. Unless we undergo monumental climate change and have below freezing temperatures during the winter.
Clearly she's watched too much Frozen. I decide to offer some practical advice.
"Wrap up warmly."
"We're allowed to wear our own clothes, so I'll be wrapped up like a snowman."
"They're usually naked, except for a scarf."
I had to be scraped off the pavement by a colleague.
She rolls her eyes. The following day, she arrives home, limbs mercifully intact.
"How was the ice-skating?" I ask.
"Horrendous. I'm completely traumatised." She has a tendency for drama.
"It was horrible, Mum. Everyone else was out there, scooting around, linking arms with their friends. One girl was skating backwards and doing turns! And I was holding on to the edge, because I knew I was going to die."
Melodrama aside, she may have learned an important lesson. In a small country, with a temperate climate, we don't have access to ice rinks and frozen lakes.
With the result that the small number of man-made rinks which pop up at this time of the year, tend to be sites of a ridiculous number of daft injuries.
It's the same way that most Irish people will never ski as well as say, the Swiss. Who all probably receive a miniature set of skis from the government when they are born.
But I say none of this to the distraught middle child. What I say is:
"Did you get out there at all?"
"Eventually," she says. "And then I fell. Really hard! On my bottom!"
Whoever came up with the idea of attaching knives to your feet to slide around all over the ice?
I can empathise. I even find it difficult to walk in the snow, when it starts to freeze over. I clearly remember crossing the river Liffey years ago, on my way into work.
I slipped on the icy bridge, ended up in the splits, and had to be scraped off the pavement by a colleague, who wasn't sure whether to laugh or commiserate.
"Your bottom is a good place to land. Did you go out again?"
"Why would I do that?" There is indignation in her voice. "Whoever came up with the idea of attaching knives to your feet to slide around all over the ice, is a complete..." she trails away, frustrated.
"So, will you have another go at it, do you think?"
"Never! I mean, I thought it'd be like Blades of Glory, or something." She starts to laugh at the admission. "You know the worst part?"
I think I can guess.
"There was this boy working there...."
My daughter. The ice queen.
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