On Robin Hood, space is naturally limited. But there are two essentials that every family member gets–a bed and his or her own skateboard. Not only is a skateboard a great tool to use when you get to a port (imagine fitting 6 bikes onto a boat? not happening!), but as a parent I see skateboards as a fantastic tool for free-play.
It is almost a right of passage for a Bingham kid to get his or her first skateboard. River got his first penny board at his second birthday at Orchard Skate, and today Van took his own trip to pick out a board at Thuro, another one of our favorite local Boston skate shops.
As a kid, my mother looked at skateboarders as being only a very small step up from drug dealers and petty criminals. The look on her face when older kids would skate by us at the park pretty much said it all: “My impressionable young daughters are watching and don’t you dare influence them or else they will surely be skating down to the nearest tattoo parlor for some body piercings washed down with a shot of whiskey.” I am laughing as I type this, because I don’t think anyone has ever more accurately put words to someone’s facial expression than I just did. That said, “Mimi” has certainly admitted that she sees the error in her ways!
As a parent, I quickly recognized what a wonderful tool of coordination and creativity a skateboard could be. It is free play at its finest, starting with when a baby first begins crawling. Both of my boys began with simply pushing and pulling a board around on the floor, which escalated to doing simple little standing tricks on them while watching TV or hanging out. We pretty much always have one or two skateboards on our living room floor. They are also great–and safe–fun in the grass.
I pretty much always have a skateboard or two in my car and underneath the stroller…just in case. Skateboarding is all about figuring it out yourself, and working with your body to make it happen–coordination and balance practice that is perfect for little bodies.
According to a study led by Tony Hawk, skate parks get 4 times the use per square yard than any other sports field or facility. Skate parks get bad reputations as a place for losers to hang–but most community leaders now understand that this only happens when skate parks are relegated to outlying areas.
Skateboarders themselves are going to skate parks to actually skateboard. Mind-blowing, right? But seriously–no one who is focused on perfecting difficult tricks is going to be doing drugs or drinking at the same time. Skate parks in my experience are fantastic additions to any community…and if done right they are a safe hangout for many kids and a place where older kids are more than happy to pause to give pointers and tips.
So clearly I’m an advocate of getting your kids started in their shredding careers early. How to get started? I recommend starting with a shortboard–these have no designated front or back–bow or stern, if you will–and they are easily maneuverable but still stable. Basically what you think of when you think of a classic skateboard. Penny Boards are a fun second board, but they are definitely less stable if you are an adult trying to learn. ahem. I would know. All our kids started with shortboards, even Van, but there is something fun and “special-occasion-esque” about picking out your own fun-colored penny boards. They are also small and light enough for even a 2 year old to cart around, so that is pretty awesome too. Just head to your local skate shop, ask questions, and be inspired!