I’ve had a pretty extensive spot-bible mapping the various hills in my town over the years, however, as longboarding has grown I’ve noticed that there have been more and more groms taking their hold on these spots. I have no problem with their presence, but often times they do not respect the rules of the road and as a result have brought heat to my favorite runs.
For instance, there is a private road that my friend and I like to skate. We keep it low profile with few people and we’re always nice to the neighbors. Of course some gromlets found it recently and decided to bring 15 of their friends. They didn’t spot corners, didn’t pick up trash, and eventually got a visit from the police. Now I can rarely skate the hill without the neighbors shooeing me away. They associate me with the bad experiences they had with these particular gromskies. Now I want these kids to have fun, but I want them to show some respect for the road and other riders. Have you dealt with this at all? What would you do in this scenario?
I’m sorry to hear that the local groms have got you down, but it’s a common issue sweeping suburban neighbourhoods across the nation right now. So frankly, I’m not surprised you’re running into such issues.
Downhill and other forms of skateboarding are growing at a an alarming rate right now, and most of that growth appears to be in the 10-14 year old age demographic. Troubled adolescent behavior can start as young as age 10 these days, which leads to my lack of surprise of your issues. Now there has been many a book written on the subject of dealing with “adolescent behavior”, but we won’t get too far into that—this’ll just be a crash-course.
That said, adolescent behaviour’s first line of defence has always been in the home, where rebellion and teen angst are supposed to be dealt with head-on using strong and consistent parenting techniques. Sadly though, it seems this war is being lost in the homestead on a major scale, and these young pre-teens are getting released onto the street in alarming numbers, with even more alarming disciplinary issues. Unfortunately, many of these troubled youth find skateboarding as a way to deal with their issues, and the problem continues to grow. This has forced many older skaters such as yourself into hiding, and often off of the hills they once called home. I’m here to tell you though, this may be perfect opportunity to mentor these little shits and be the second line of defense against negative adolescent behavioral issues. Consider dealing with these groms with compassion and love, and show them the ways not to blow-out spots or disrespect the neighbours. I’d like to give you a 6 step parenting technique I’ve found that may be wielded as a helpful tool in dealing with the troubled groms on your local hills:
1. Focus on the grom you love, not the behavior you don’t.
This first step should really be nicknamed “don’t get depressed”. It suggests that you redirect your focus on the fact that at least kids are skateboarding rather than sitting in their basements eating nachos. Shift the focus from the fact that you’re having to deal with their shit on the hills and turn attention to something positive. It’s about finding good in all the bad so as to keep perspective.
2. Reflect on your groms’ strengths and positive qualities.
This step is about realizing that groms are sensitive creatures and need lots of positive reinforcement. According to parenting 101 you need to try to make a conscious effort to focus on all of the li’l guy’s positive achievements—it suggests jotting them down for future reference too.
3. Ponder the pain behind the troubled behaviour.
This is about having a compassionate response and trying to relate to the root cause of the pain for the teen. Try seeing things from their point of view and see what unspoken issues you can shed light on. Again, perspective.
4. View your grom through the eyes of a stranger.
Sometimes you can get so caught up in dealing with the groms’ issues that you start to draw your own conclusions on the whole scenario. It can be helpful to take a step back, look at the behaviour through a stranger’s perspective and see if you can perceive things differently.
5. Connect with your grom on a deep and caring level.
Dealing with a difficult grom or skate-kitten can be extremely exhausting. You need to make a concerted effort to maintain a loving and caring bond with the grom in question, so that they become aware you have their best interests at heart. This helps you relate to them in a different way and not always seem like the disciplinarian.
6. Know when to fix and when to just be.
The last step is about approaching the situation with awareness and making your decisions properly. This is about knowing when to attack the bad behaviour head-on. Sometimes, the time is not right during the act, but rather, when everything is settled and you’ve got one of the lead groms aside. Maybe mention to him/her that leaving garbage and being disrespectful to neighbours isn’t cool, and if he sees someone doing it, to regulate them. This is a better approach than confronting them as a group during the “acting out”.
Yes, those 6 steps are actually common advice for dealing with troubled teens in general, but I believe the message translates well. That said, if all the “Creative Thinking” and “jotting things down” doesn’t work for ya, your best bet may be to simply skate later in the day, at about 5:30-6:30pm, when all the groms have been picked-up for dinner by the grom-moms. You could also try scoring some phone numbers from the grom-moms—maybe even work your way up to real parenting.
Best of luck,
GENERAL DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this column are meant to be interpreted satirically and not to be taken too seriously. To all you skaters out there, you’re awesome; please don’t take this shit to heart and then try and track me down in some weird internet-witch-hunt. Do remember, it’s all about fun.
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