A Most Irrational Fear

Disclaimer: This is a story talking about an aspect of my silly childhood. With that in mind, remember that it is a story about my life as a 4-year old and what may sound preposterous was at the time very real to me.

Living in Canada, skating is an awesome skill because by the time winter rolls around it seems like every friend has a skating rink in their backyard, and schools take trips to skating rinks for fun. Learning to skate, then, is an important part of a childhood where you’re not relegated to cling to the boards whilst your hockey-playing friends race each other around the rink, practicing their sharp stops and backwards skating skills.

In order to make sure my childhood would not be devoid of this necessary component, my parents signed me up for skating lessons at a local rink when I was around 4 or 5 years old. To prepare for these lessons, we went out and bought a set of second-hand skates (protip: always buy second-hand for things like skates, and resell them afterwards) at the local used sporting goods store.

So life kept on rolling until the night before the big day, the night before my first ever skating lesson. I was so excited, I’d finally be able to go on the ice and skate and it would be so liberating. However, before I fell asleep that night, a seed of an idea which had been implanted in my head blossomed into a terrifying (and highly irrational) fear.

My 4 year old self had somehow gotten the idea into his head that all ice rinks are built on top of bodies of water like a pond, even the indoor ones. Having learnt some of the basics of ice safety, I knew that it didn’t take much to crack thin pond ice, and when that happened you could fall into the freezing water below.

With these ideas in mind, I somehow contrived that the 6 year old students who already knew how to skate would skate in circles around me. As I wallowed on the ice, trying to skate but constantly falling, their sharp blades would cut a circle out of the ice. So there I would be, sitting on a circle of ice that had been separated from the rest of the rink. Not understanding physics whatsoever, I then guessed that this circle of ice would sink to the bottom of the fictional body of water that lay beneath the surface of the ice.

Of course, this was just a silly childhood fear, but at the time it was very real. I was certain that the horrible, cruel, 6 year olds would for some inexplicable reason decide to cut a hole out of the ice rink and I would sink to the bottom of the water that lay below, a horrible death for a 4 year old.

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