There’s no upside to performing a diaper change in roller skates

imageIt’s been more than 250 years since John Joseph Merlin invented the roller skate. Considering that there were no cement sidewalks, asphalt streets or concrete half-pipes in 1760, then one can only assume Mr. Merlin’s intention was to commit suicide.

Hmmm, running myself into a wall at full speed probably won’t do the me in. But maybe if I was rolling down a hill..?!?

I thought about this during a recent trip to Eugene, which is the closest big city to us and home to many University of Oregon students who roller skate through downtown. They do this as a way to leave a smaller carbon footprint, which is ironic considering I go through twice as much carbon in my brake pads by trying to avoid hitting them in traffic. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a roller-skate prude shaking his fist at a generation of whippersnappers with their fancy moves and ibuprofen-free flexibility. In fact, it wasn’t long ago (Okay, 10 years *cough cough*) I was lacing up my own skates in a show of dexterity rivaling any speed-skating Olympian suffering a leg cramp at 40 mph. 

In this instance, a friend had asked for my help with a skate party for his daughter — a sweet, thoughtful seven-year-old whose vocabulary didn’t yet include terms like “compound fracture” or “hip replacement.”

After getting skates for ourselves and her friends, we discovered that the rink also had skates small enough to fit my then two-year-old son, transforming him into what was essentially a human bowling ball. With a little practice, he became an effective tool for humbling even the most accomplished skater.

However, as we feared, my friend and I were eventually asked to stop rolling my son like a smart missile and actually go out onto the skating area — something that, at first, resembled a pair of blindfolded chimps searching for bananas along the walls of the rink. To our surprise, we quickly discovered that roller skating is just like riding a bike: Once you’ve learned how, the more likely it is you’ll get cocky and run into a post. Which isn’t to say that we weren’t able to regain at least some of our former skating prowess. At one point, I began free skating in an impressive display of grace and speed that left my friend in awe.

Unfortunately, it also left a group of small children too frightened to return to the rink, and scarred by the image of a faceless man grabbing at them in order to maintain his balance.

Naturally, it was about this time I realized my son needed a diaper change.

If you’ve never performed a diaper change in roller skates, you’re missing out on one of life’s great experiences, just like riding your bike into a parked car or almost making your victory leap over a tennis net. That’s because aside from the normal challenges that accompany changing a squirmy child, there is the fact that, at any second, you could find yourself under the changing table doing the splits — something that, as far as I know, has only been attempted by Jackie Chan.

The fact that I’m here to tell you the story proves I was successful; the fact that I went from singing baritone to soprano should tell you to which degree. For example, a decade later my wife knows when I’ve had one too many drinks because I start involuntarily doing the splits during conversation.

I also can’t watch any kind of Olympic skating event without a bag of cold peas on my lap.

Does that mean I regret some of the riskier things I’ve done? Or continue to do as a volunteer firefighter?

Of course not.

Sometimes to get the most out of life you have to stretch yourself…






Ned is a syndicated humor columnist for News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, available from Port Hole Publishing, Amazon Books, Barnes and Noble or the trunk of Ned’s car!

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I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

42 thoughts on “There’s no upside to performing a diaper change in roller skates”

  1. Perfect timing! I’m getting ready to make a trip to take care of my 18 month-old and 3 year-old nephews in Atlanta – thought I’d exhausted most of the options for unappealing diaper change venues but roller skating never occurred to me. The chance to do some toddler bowling is a huge bonus. Thanks for coming to my rescue!

  2. This took me right back to when my son was 2 and donned his first pair of roller skates. At our closest rink, they actually allow street shoes on the rink, so I could walk along with him. Fast forward to a few months ago when I got a wild hair and put on roller blades to join my son. About four feet into my journey I rocked forward a bit, grabbed with my toes inside my skate, experienced excruciating pain from a recently smashed toe, and the next thing I remember is hitting the deck square on my tail, feeling lots of cracking and popping and pain, from my head down to my tailbone.

    Changing a diaper with skates on is mighty impressive.

    1. That hurt just reading it, Susan! And though I can’t make any promises until I have grand kids some day, I’m pretty sure my roller-skate-diaper-changing days are over.

  3. Ned. You must. Take. The skates. Off. First.


    I know it’s too late for YOU, but maybe one of your readers might have picked up on this post and decide to try to one-up you.

    But never mind. I’ve changed a squirming toddler:

    –on the back of a galloping horse…no, wait, it was TWO galloping horses and I did it standing up, in mid air!

    –while skiing down Mt. Everest. I’m still a tad snow blind, but as you well know, you have to do what you have to do.

    –on top of a speeding train, just as it was about to go into the tunnel, with Dashiell Hammett in hot pursuit

    –in the cargo hold of a pitching Death Ship (the water kind, I’ll get to the other shortly), in the pitch black, jostling like sardines with other refugees and their excreta…one wonders, “Why bother?” Indeed.

    –in a rogue capsule, broken away from the Mother Ship, in zero gravity (that was by far the worst one, I still get nightmares, does that mean I get a Card? You know what I mean 😉)

    And BY the way, you youngsters are SO spoiled with your paved surfaces! I’m still picking gravel out of my knees from 1958. Hey, are you the bastard who stole my skate key????

    1. Given your dexterity and physical capability, not to mention your obvious tenacity in the face of the most extreme diaper danger, there’s no way in hell I’d risk stealing your skate key, Laura!

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