Sk8r Boy

He seriously won’t listen to me. I’ve called his name thirteen times, to the point where I went from being a room away to four inches in front of his face and I get nothing. He’s not going to respond. His shaggy blond hair is hanging in his eyes, head bent over in concentration, perfect little mouth pursed into a pout. He’s my son- he is the cutest thing you literally will ever see and he’s a video game addict. Yet, I need to speak with him about homework- it’s kindergarten but there is still homework. He is inebriated in his Nintendo DS and he doesn’t want to listen to mama’s jabber about “school stuff.”. How sad is that? How modern is that? I have to laugh at myself because I always said I wouldn’t have my kids be the big “TV heads.” Ha!  My baby boy learned to master Wii sports before his ABC’s. You’re wrong if you don’t believe I hate admitting that but it’s true so what can you do? These days it’s hard to find something as enticing as 3D images fighting with weapons to stimulate a child. I do what I can though, I rely heavily on this city, as most parents do, to provide us with an adequate venue to get their cute little brains turned on in a real way, not a digital way.

I’ve been hearing some chatter recently about Congdon Park School and the renovation it is about to undergo. I knew Congdon was going to be made over as part of our “no choice whatsoever red plan.” But I didn’t know what all that entailed. What I am learning now, is that part of the renovation is to take out the perfect little skating area Congdon Park offers. Duluth School board wants to crush it and kill it and make it a big ugly concrete parking lot. You might ask yourself- What does Amy Z care about that?? She just said her kid is a digital zombie.... Well true- BUT guess what? He also ice skates. Both of my kids love to ice skate, and guess where the rink of choice is located? Yeah- it’s Congdon. So yup, this is personal.

Here’s the thing. This isn’t just about all the little ugly truths that were lost to the public during the red plan unveiling, and it isn’t just about the idea that my kids happen to skate at Congdon. It’s about the fact that Duluth needs to not take away from natural activity when our children need it most. Life is complicated for kids. I find my daughter whom is intelligent to the point of weird, vegging out to television more often than she should. Talking on her phone more than she should, googleing odd topics, more than she should. So when Nana (aka: my mama) wants to pick up my kids for a play date at the ice rink you have no idea the satisfaction in that. It means hours of fresh air. It means invigorating physical activity for my daughter and the video-game junkie both. It means making friends in an atmosphere that doesn’t include a confining classroom or a .com to follow. This little rink, as insignificant as it seems to Duluth, provides children with a chance to be what we all miss, just the way things used to be.

I find it sick that we have to vote on things like parks staying open in this community. I find it sick that the choice for a local little skating rink to stay open will fall upon grown people who will never have a Saturday wrecked because they can’t go skating. This choice is put to adults who don’t see little faces light up at the idea of recreational freedom on a lazy afternoon. I’m not very old so I suppose it sounds silly for me to refer to the old days, but for this scenario I am going to take that liberty. When I was a kid I spent many hours at Memorial Park skating rink. I met friends there, I loved it there. It was a chance to burn out some energy and learn a new skill. What skill is my little guy’s quick video game thumbs going to offer him in the real world? Not much I’m sure. It’s not like I’m implying skating will make him succeed either, but it’s healthy, it’s outdoors. It’s self-made adventure.  Ice skating is a Minnesota past-time and a  taste of the way things used to be. Before Iphones, before xbox, before any of that, It’s the way we as an entire people originally learned to live. It’s what was okay after our parents screamed “Go Outside and Play!” Now Duluth, you want to take away one of the few little venues we have left to threaten our kids with-outdoor play?

It doesn’t make sense to me that parking is the vital issue at hand. Ridiculous parking is already the calling card of Duluth...this is per say, what we are good at. We build things, and then leave the parking up to the crazy. Go to the new Walgreens on 12th Ave East. You will most likely be killed in an accident getting in or out of the parking lot, but at least I will have made my point. Do I need to point out the parking dilemma at the new East high School (old Ordean)?  Take a quick drive through old lakeside. Bet you can’t even count the number of early 1900’s built houses with new “permit parking only” signs embedded in the front yard. If nothing else in this city we can handle ridiculous parking. Don’t take away a person’s favorite local pastime in favor of ONE single place having “ample” parking.

To lose this skating rink, would be a travesty. I personally know two little people and a Nana who will extremely sad to see it go. I  know my step-dad who himself walks over to Congdon to re-live his hockey playing college days, will be sad to see it go. I believe the entire crowd that gathers late on a Sunday afternoon to lace up themselves and their little ones for a couple spins, would be sad to see it go. At what point can the citizens of Duluth trust again in our city council and school board and see you stop taking things away? It’s a really sad day when a parking lot is seen as a better choice than a skating rink. A really sad day.