Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Guest Post

I found this on my daughter's blog Jessica Day Ontiveros and couldn't resist placing it here today.

 To Skate or Not to Skate

Every other Monday night was suspenseful in our house growing up.  The happiness of 6 young children hinged on a handful of poor and unsuspecting piano and voice students. The weight of our worlds on their poor little shoulders. It was simple, if their parent’s paid for their lessons today we got to go to the skating rink. If they didn’t, we didn’t.

We would wait “patiently” as the student would try relentlessly to pound out a beginner’s version of Jingle Bells. My Mom and her ever patient and gentle instructions somehow making sense of it all to the kid, who really just wanted to play drums in the school band but had to get piano out of the way first.
One of us would watch the clock and someone else would watch the window for the parent coming to retrieve their child. Sometimes if they came early and sat in their car for a while we would  try to pass the time by “entertaining” the bored adult. I remember one specific instance when we adorned one of us (probably my poor little brother to five sisters) with a pot on the head and a wooden spoon. The little performer marched like a soldier from one side of the yard to the other, rhythmically beating the pot with the spoon. I can only imagine the concern for our mental state these poor people must have had.

So finally the time would come when the last student would leave. One look at my Mom’s face and we would know whether they had paid her or not.

My Dad worked very hard at two jobs, he was a music minister and (because we all know how much they get paid) also an auto parts delivery truck driver. My Mom had upwards of 30 piano and voice students, this was what funded our skating.

Oh the torment we must’ve put my poor Mother through. Six little faces staring at her as if our lives depended on being able to skate. Especially if she hadn’t been paid. I also can’t imagine homeschooling six kids or teaching 30 music students a week only to have the profits go to a few rolls around the track and a game of Dead Bug. Which was really difficult in heavy roller skates, by the way.
Sometimes we didn’t get to go. Which was of course devastating. For all of 5 minutes. We’d silently curse the parent for forgetting her check book and maybe shed a few tears. But then Mom would come up with some fun thing to do that completely erased it from our minds. We might read The Chronicles of Narnia by candlelight and drink hot tea, or watch Anne of Green Gables all curled up in their huge water bed. Mom always has a way of turning everything into something more enjoyable.

I should probably add (in case it sounds like we were deprived of entertainment) that we did many other fun things and were involved in other activities throughout the week. On Monday nights however, we only cared about skating.

So then there were the glorious times when we did get to go. You may wonder why it was every other Monday night. This was simply because every other Monday night at our local skating rink was Homeschool Night, of course. A whole night dedicated to families like us! Although I don’t remember there being many other people there.
The icing on the cake was that Homeschool Night doubled as Christian Music Night. Because apparently every homeschooling family is also a christian family? Anyway, we were definitely that, so Homeschool/Christian Music Night was our night.

There were some rare occasions that we went on a non-homeschool night, nights where they played “secular” music (gasp!). Honestly, I don’t remember any songs that played on Homeschool/Christian Music night, I do however remember vividly the other nights. Nights where I’d skate around to Tim McGraw’s ‘I like it I love it’ feeling oddly naughty while pretending not to enjoy it or even know the words. I also remember the sheer shock and horror that melted into silent delight when I’d catch one of my parents singing along to “the devil’s music”.  I always knew they were the “normal” ones after all.

Looking back I’m so grateful for those evenings when we waited for the answer to the question “To skate, or not to skate”. They taught me that you can’t always get exactly what you want when you want it. That you have to work for everything that’s anything and that sometimes no matter how hard you work, other people may end up holding the key to your happiness… and disappoint you. In those instances we can choose to be devastated or find a different happiness, like reading Chronicles of Narnia by candlelight. Thanks Mom :)


  1. Sounds like your family has a treasure trove of beautiful memories!!