Tuesday, October 2, 2007
My sons spent the weekend studying Newton's Laws of Physics, some cultural anthropology and a new idiolect.
They all participated in the Skimbash in Santa Cruz.
The skimbash was a skimboarding competition. A skimboard, for you not-so-hip people, is a small surfboard-like device used to ride along the beach and in shallow water. The overwhelming majority of skimboarders are boys and men, who happen to have regular access to the beach, and a certain kind of athletic grace combined with fearlessness. It is a small but quite distinct subculture. Kids start skimming at age five or six, and pros are as young as fourteen. As I observed at the competition, the skimmers who are the most fun to watch are the 12 to 14-year olds. There are very few in the oldest category, 30 and up. If you are over thirty and still skimming, be prepared for lots of Geritol and hip-replacement jokes.
What sport could be more attractive to my kids? It is a perfect storm of boys, most less than ten years older than they are, who are incredibly athletic and daring and cool. Boys really love to look up to other boys just a bit older.
Not many moms there. Thank god my kids have not realized how uncool it is to have your mom with you at a competition. I had a chance to study these older boys closely for two long days. There are definitely worse crowds to hang out with. The thing that really stood out to me is that skimmers as a group seem to appreciate creativity, individuality, and innovation. They have four main things to work with: 1. their skills as skimmers 2. their board 3. their attire (trunks slung a bit lower than decent seem to be preferred), and 4. their hair.
This creativity is very well expressed in skimmers' idiolect. No, I'm not insulting their intelligence. Idiolect is the speech habits peculiar to a particular person. The dynamic language that skimmers use is quite funny. Too bad I didn't understand a word of it. I could have used a translator. My boys have new vocabulary now.
As a mom, I have to say the skimbash was one of the most unorganized organized sporting events I have ever been to. But if you are going to be at a competition where no one has the least idea when you might be competing, you might as well be at a beach all day for two days on a beautiful weekend. It is so much better than being at a soccer tournament in Dixon, CA on a day when it is 105 degrees in the shade but you didn't know you had to bring the shade with you. So I sat on the beach in my chair and tried to locate my inner zen and let my boys just hang out and skim. I tried to block out the occasionally inappropriate music and concentrated on what words and phrases like dank, rootbeer-style, sex-change, shove-it, schwag and shwack, nar-nar, minibucket, and wrap-it-like-a-Christmas-present could mean. Oh, wait a minute, I know one: sick! I know what sick means! It means cool! I probably spelled it wrong though.
My husband could not locate his inner zen. Everything about the competition drove him berserk, especially the lack of schedule and having no idea what was going on. He couldn't take it, he had to leave. I had to take it, I'm the one that promised the boys they could compete and I wasn't about to leave them there by themselves. Too much Red Bull around. Besides, they had been practicing skimming all summer for the competition.
My boys spend most of their waking hours propelling themselves or objects through space. Skimming is a great example, with the added complexity of having to read the ocean conditions and waves. It also requires understanding and physical implementation of Newton's laws.
Briefly stated, the three laws are:
1. An object in motion will remain in motion unless acted upon by a net force. (Timing of running and throwing the board down)
2. Force equals mass multiplied by acceleration. (Those really big waves can trash you)
3. To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. (When you fall it really hurts)
I should have known that last one when I thought I was a cool mom and did some skimming with my boys last November in Hawaii. I was looking pretty good until I fell. Hard. And the equal and opposite reaction to my wrist was a fracture and the first cast of my life. I'm retired now.
Oh by the way, at the skimbash, my 8 year old placed second in his 8 and Under division, my 9 year old placed fourth and my 10 year old third in the 9 to 11 division. I have to admit that I was thrilled that everyone got a prize. And they had a blast!!
(First picture is my 9 year old, second is a pro who won the competition, third is my 7 year old, fourth is a 14 year old pro, last picture is my 10 year old. Photos by me.)