Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The First Step on a Long, Dark Road

John is now a mini-mite. This means he now plays hockey on a team. I suppose this makes me a hockey mom.

Baseball and soccer seem to come naturally to him. Judo, as we all know, did not. Hockey is kind of in between. He still isn't 100% comfortable on his skates, he can't skate backwards, and every once in awhile he'll still land on his elbow or butt and bite back a tear. But he likes it, and is working hard at it, and that's all we can ask, right now. We told him he'd have to work extra hard, because he was behind the rest of the group, and he's given it all he's got.

Up here, hockey is the sport that brings out the scary parents. The screamers, the bullies. I had some reservations about getting involved in that. On top of that, it's expensive as hell and a huge time-sink. Suddenly you find yourself driving to Grand Forks at 4 a.m. on a Sunday morning and you wonder what happened.

Fortunately, we seem to have gotten lucky. The program up here is run by some guys whose only point of existence seems to be to make sure John has fun while learning about hockey. Matt asked if John could join mid-season -- not even play in the games, but just skate with the kids to get comfortable on the ice -- and suddenly he's a mini-mite with a jersey playing in the game during intermission at the high school team's Senior Day game. Matt had told him, at first, not to try to look like a hockey player -- don't work on celebrating your goal before you can even skate it to the net. And then suddenly, there's John in the net, turning away shots, or playing defense, taking pucks away and passing them to his friends.

I know they're sucking me in. I know that a year from now, I'll be growling over the volunteer chart, leaving nasty messages with the backsliding parents who haven't done their time at the concession stand. I'll wear my photo button to work. I'll stand out with a hose, icing down the outdoor rinks.

Heh, not really. It's just been a pleasant surprise to find a group of people who are supporting their kids who want to play hockey, without getting all weird over it.

The other day, John and I were out on the pond practicing. I stood at one end, and John would skate down the pond and take a shot at me. I would block it and shoot it back down to the other side, and he would sigh, skate after it, and then come at me again. He didn't complain once, and we did it for an hour.

At one point, I chased after the puck myself, and tried to turn quickly to skate backwards away from him with it. I succeeded, with much flailing. John stopped and put his gloved hands on his hips. He cocked his helmeted head, sweating and breathing hard, and smacked his stick on the ice.

"Mom," said the hockey player, "you're not a hockey player, so don't try to look like one."


  1. I fear hockey parents. FEAR THEM. We have the craziest of the crazies here. Every season there are law suits ("You stopped my kid from running! I'm going to say you hit him! I'm claling my lawyer") and physical altercations and evictions from board appointments and.... they are reliving highschool in front of their 8 year olds. OY VEY.

    And every last one of them thinks they have a potential NHL'er so their kid needs more ice time.