We had the opportunity to attend a North Star Roller Girls roller derby with friends this weekend. Our 10-year-old attends frequently with them, but this was our first family outing. Would I recommend going with kids? I have mixed feelings.
To begin with, this was a last-minute invite. Evening outings with preschool dates require naps and well-stocked diaper bags. We had neither of these, plus I was nursing a migraine. Without these self-created barriers, I believe it would have been a very successful family outing. As with many outings, preparedness is the key. The following are the good and the bad of taking kids to these events.
The Upside of Attending Roller Derby with Kids:
- Kids get in free and parking was also free. Adult tickets are $13 in advance and $16 at the door. I guess the way the free is worded — “with an adult ticket purchase” — could mean one child per adult, but we walked in with four and they were happy to hand our kids their kid tickets.
- Everyone we dealt with was very child friendly. From the ticket taker who offered our toddler her own ticket “to eat or whatever” to the face painter and stilt walkers, everyone seemed happy to see children in the audience. There were a lot of kids.
- Free face painting! Bring tip money though. Since I was unprepared, I had no tip money and felt bad. The artist did a fabulous job.
- Fun photo booth with props. We got to have our picture taken in a photo booth. Pictures will be posted on the roller girls website. I forgot to ask my daughter if they do this at every bout, but the props and backdrop appeared too well made to be a one-time thing.
- Balloon animals. They didn’t have balloon animals this weekend. But I am told that usually there is a man skating around making balloon animals for kids.
- Half-time fun. At half-time the crowd is invited out to participate in fun. This time was hula hoop, but I’m told they do different things each time. Once was the hokey pokey. My kids were too lame to go out. I think they would have had more fun had they participated.
- There is space down on the floor where kids can be a bit more squirmy. This is important. They are not allowed to run on the bleachers.
The Downside of Attending Roller Derby with Kids:
- Forget keeping score. In roller derby, points are scored every time a jammer laps an opposing player. It’s actually kind of hard to keep track of the jammers, but its near impossible when you are trying to keep a crabby four-year-old from kicking the head of the person in front or a squirmy toddler from trying to climb the bleachers. We finally started taking turns taking them out. There is a score board, but the fun is in watching.
- Little kids don’t care about the bout. This is family fun only in the sense that the North Star Roller Girls have made it kid friendly. Even the 10-year-old wasn’t actually interested in the sport itself.
- It kills bedtime. Even with our relatively late bedtimes, our kids went to bed late. It made getting up for church in the morning difficult. We ended up going to an evening Mass.
- It is loud and there is a lot going on. There was no hope the toddler were just fall asleep on my coat. As tired as she was, she was way overstimulated. Again, had she napped properly, this would not have been a big issue.
Overall, we would do it again. We would definitely take the school-aged kids. They had a great time. I would consider a babysitter or a better game plan with the younger kids.