3 Things Skate Dads Don’t Want To Think About
Wear a helmet, don’t do drugs. Pretty straightforward parenting advice.
Then you have a kid and have to look at the person you are, the person you’ve been, and suddenly your complicated relationship with skateboarding gets a little more complicated.
My son is only one and a half, so I have some time, but as he starts to take more interest in the skateboard lying in the corner of my office, I can’t help but question if I want him to pick it up or how I’m going to handle it if he does.
The good in skateboarding far outweighs the bad, but there are a few things I can’t quite figure out how I’m going to explain away.
I’ve always hated, “Do as I say, not as I do.” but goddamnit if it wouldn’t be a whole lot easier on this one because the current conversation doesn’t sound right. “You see, son, I’m part of a subculture that values looks over life. I’m going to make you wear a helmet because my love for you is infinite, and I can’t stomach the idea of you getting seriously hurt on my account. But I’m not going to wear one, it’s not cool, and although I’m in my mid-thirties, I’m incredibly insecure and care deeply about what the teenagers at the park and my peers think of me.”
The coma and head injuries in college didn’t convince me. Maybe my kid will; jury’s still out. Respect to all the dads out there sacrificing vanity for the sake of their kids.
Drugs & Alcohol
Drinking, doing drugs, and partying are not specific to skateboarding. For most of us, life itself is the original gateway drug. Partying is only slightly more celebrated in skateboarding than other athletic activities. The contest runs won on acid; video enders landed too blacked out to remember, the Team Managers mandatory spliff rolling abilities, all well and good, especially if you’re skating better than anyone else in the world. It adds to the allure.
You could argue that skateboarding doesn’t glorify partying and profit from it, but you’d be wrong.
Maybe I struggle with this one because, as part of the industry, I’m arguably in a position to change it. Truth is, I don’t really want to. The fuck-all lifestyle is what drew me to skating in the first place. Changing it would erase a big part of my past and alter a culture I hold very dear.
To all those other people’s kids, “Skateboarding is for the youth and the powerful recklessness that comes with it. It’s better to see the world as is, full of vices, peer pressure, bad decisions and deal with the consequences on your own. Rather than a sugar-coated, sheltered version of skateboarding as an after-school special with blinders always on.”
But this is my kid we’re talking about. Don’t come near me with that self-righteous manifesto bullshit. Drugs are bad. Alcohol is a depressant, and any issues with depression, anxiety, or mental health you might struggle with in life, drinking and partying, will make them worse. Trust me on this one.
So, I know skateboarding might look pretty cool and all, but have you thought about badminton?
Plus, your dad skates. Lord knows that dude is pretty lame.
Respect For Other People’s Stuff
As soon as your kid can crawl and interact with other babies, one of the first things you teach them is to share and respect other people’s things. You don’t want your kid drawing all over the walls and destroying your house or others.
Then you have to explain that your life’s work and passion revolves mostly around destroying public and sometimes private property with your four-wheeled toy.
I know dad told you that it wasn’t nice to mark up the walls in the house, but when I do it skateboarding on all those buildings downtown, it’s completely different.
Of the three, this one is the easiest to look the other way on. It involves inanimate objects. No one is facing a life-threatening injury or developing an addiction because you scratched the paint off a bench.
It’s just another one of those things you know is wrong but feels so right, as long as your kid isn’t watching or asking questions.
As much as we want to, we won’t be able to fix the world for our kids or completely protect them from it. The best we can do is offer the tools we have to help them navigate it.
Skateboarding may not be the sharpest tool, but I’ve yet to find a better one for approaching my life.
Growing up, I felt like a walking contradiction, wrapped in imperfections. I needed a community as imperfect as I felt. My own island of misfit toys. I found it in skateboarding. It became me, the good and the bad. It’s never been perfect, and I think that’s why it’s served me so well.
With a skateboard as your compass, you learn very early that the world doesn’t operate in absolutes. There are a million shades of grey in between right and wrong. Limiting yourself to the strictest of rules and logic, you miss out on all the people and experiences in between.
While my instinct is to protect my son at all cost, wrap him in bubble wrap, and steer him towards the highest path of moral ground. I know skateboarding or not; he’s going to do dangerous things, face hard decisions, and occasionally screw things up.
That’s when my expertise as a skate dad will come in handy most. The ability to forgive, sympathize with the pull to make bad decisions, and above all else understand what it’s like to be a kid because my days still revolve around pretending to be one.