If you give a kid a skateboard, they’ll try to ollie. And they will fail. Over and over again.
To go with their new skateboard, they'll insist you pay for skate shoes. You’ll refuse. Because you picture the pot head 10th graders you grew up with who wore iconic checkerboard Vans like a bad-boy status symbol. But then they show you all the holes in their Nikes. And says their toes and ankles hurt. So you grudgingly buy them skate shoes. And your mindset just might evolve a little.
If you give a kid a skateboard, they will find other kids with skateboards and disappear for hours into the neighbourhood, returning sweaty and thirsty and a little scraped up, calling each other “Brah” and “Dude.”
They’ll initiate conversations about trucks and bearings, which you will have to Google. When you won’t shell out, they will spend their mowing money on “Bones Reds.” And you will Google that, too.
If you give a kid a skateboard, you’ll have to drive to all the skateparks in a 30-kilometre radius. Every time you go, you will feel old and dorky. And you’ll worry, a lot, about other kids getting hurt. (Why aren’t they wearing helmets? Where are their parents?)
However, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the absence of smoking, drug use and graffiti, which you always—perhaps unfairly?—associated with skateboard culture. (The swearing you can live with.)
Without realizing it, you’ll learn about half-pipes and longboards and grinding and how posers carry their decks like a fashion accessory.
If you give a kid a skateboard, they will toil for hours on the driveway working on his ollie.
They'll spend a solid weekend building a ramp with his dad, while several friends linger nearby ready to help.
If you give a kid a skateboard, they will get hurt. If you’re lucky, it won’t involve broken bones or too many stitches. And if you’re luckier still, they will learn something and get back on the board, tougher and wiser and braver than before. It will also remind them why they wear a helmet and pads, making them less likely to complain about mom-required safety gear in the future.
And one day, you’ll see them Velcro-ing wrist guards for their little brother. Or witness them helping a newbie with tic tocs or proper footing. And you’ll try not to snap a pic or get misty eyed as they hold the hands of his best friend, whispering words of encouragement and carefully supporting him as he attempts “dropping in” for the first time.
If you give a kid a skateboard, it might take a month or two, or even a year or two, but one day, your kid will stop you in the kitchen and sheepishly ask you to join them on the driveway.
Finally, after so much struggle and frustration, with no formal instruction or official practice schedule but loads of grit and persistence, your kid will land that ollie! Again and again. Higher and stronger, sticking the landing like a natural, as if they've been doing this their whole life.
And as you step back and take in the pride in your kid's face and accomplishment in their stature, you will be so very glad you got a kid a skateboard.