“I don’t like my skates,” my four-year-old mentioned quietly, as we sat on the bleachers outside of our local ice skating rink.
It was our family’s first time ice skating together, my husband and my previous trips around a rink more than twenty years behind us. Since my children have some of my genetic material, they didn’t take to the sport right away, but my son’s bravery and tenacity kicked in, and he was faring better than his sister. He was falling more than she was, but that’s the price of letting go of the wall.
We had already taken a hot chocolate break, and as I was lacing my girl’s bright yellow rentals, she made her confession.
“I don’t like my skates.”
“Do they hurt your feet?” I asked.
“No,” she clarified. “I don’t like the way they look.” She touched a finger to one of the many dings and scuff marks on the lemon-colored surface, and continued. “Mine are too scratched up. No one else has scratches on their skates.”
As I held one of her feet in my lap, the cold metal blade cutting into my thigh, I smiled.
“Your skates have marks on them because other kids have used them before you. Those are marks of fun. The more marks a skate has, the more fun it has had.”
“Marks of fun?” she wrinkled her nose, doubtfully.
“Yeah,” I continued. “Look at my face. See the lines around my eyes and my mouth?” My preschooler pulled me close by cupping either side of my face, her small hands cocooned in rose-colored kitty mittens.
I smiled widely, the teeth-baring, eye-squinting smile that created the crevasses in my skin, and she nodded.
“I see them,” she said. “Here,” tracing between my eye and my ear, “and here,” tracing my smile line.
“Those lines are from all times I’ve smiled,” I told her. “From all the fun I’ve had.”
“If I smile a lot, will I have cracks on my face like you do?”
“You will,” I told her, thinking about the way her face transforms and her eyes disappear when she’s happy.
“Cool,” she grinned. “I hope I have so many fun marks when I’m a grown-up.”
Smile fading, my girl cocked her head to the side and watched the people on the ice for a moment. Looking down at her borrowed footwear, bright as the sun and heavily worn, she nodded for the second time.
“These skates have had a lot of fun,” she decided.
“They really have,” I agreed. “Now let’s go have some more.”