I bought the photo-pin last week. I've done the drop-off -- "See you in an hour!" -- without any hint of maternal affection. I've learned to skate backwards (almost) by playing defense against a seven-year-old on a frozen pond surrounded by rocky cliffs and tall pines.
The transformation is complete.
I love hockey players. To the point of being kind of obnoxious about it. More specifically, I wish I could [em]be[/em] one. More specifically still, I really, really wish I could skate like a hockey player. Not even a pro -- I'd settle for a Division II second-string defenseman. Hell, some of the high-school players here. That would be OK. (Just their skating ability! I mean it.)
John is now a mite, which means he has practice twice a week, and he has also been skating once a week with the mini mites, because down where we were, he didn't have a lot of practice learning to skate. You know, when he was 3. So he's already a little behind his peers, although I'll tell you right now no one works harder than he does. At the end of practice his yellow hair is crazy with sweat (long and shaggy! hockey hair!) and he slumps in his breezers, helmet unbuckled but still on and mouthguard hanging out, as I pull off his skates.
When I dropped him off the other night, I watched him take the ice. He's made a ton of progress. He still ankles-in when he's tired, and he's inherited my complete lack of grace, but he has speed and size, which is enough for the coaches, right now. I saw him fly down the ice, toward the wall as if he would run into it, and then he winged aside at the last possible second, losing no speed and cutting off a teammate. He asked me after practice if I'd seen it, and he told me he was "really good at turns."
I can't skate like a hockey player. But my kid does. And it's awesome to watch.