First game of the season? Already? Matt's working, so I'm wrangling this one on my own. The last thing I feel like doing is getting all that equipment together. I run through it in my head: socks, skates, elbow pads, knee pads, breezers, jersey, gloves, helmet, stick. Is that it?
"John, where's your helmet?"
A blank look. I tell him his hockey bag is in the garage. Which garage? Where in the little garage? He goes out, comes back without his helmet. I am more explicit in the directions. He retrieves the helmet.
The skates, of course, have not been sharpened. "Why didn't we get these sharpened when we were in town last week?" John shrugs.
The game is out of town. It's out of state. I google the arena and jot down a little map; Superior is another place where my sense of direction is completely useless. More than once I've found myself on one bridge having been sure I was crossing the other one.
We fuel up on a huge salad and then mac'n'cheese. I run the dogs through the woods and tell them that after the latest performance (chewing up my CD of Minnesota Orchestra playing Beethoven's Third (Eroica) and Fourth Symphonies), they had better keep away from the LPs.
I pile kids, equipment, yogurt raisins and water bottles into the car. Maia requests "the robin song," and she means "Maybe Sparrow" by Neko Case. We're shuffling the iPod, so she's out of luck, which she accepts.
Who schedules a game on a Sunday night? What kind of mom am I, going along with it? We won't be back home until 9:30. Is this what happens when hockey rules your family?
We get to Superior. John runs into the arena as I get the bag. He runs back out. "Oh, MOM," he says, "you are TOTALLY playing a tough team. They're out on the ice right now and they are good."
"Hold the door for me," I say. "That's the men's team. We'll play the women."
In the locker room, I put on John's helmet, now mine because he got a new one this season. I strap on the skates and pull on the gloves. I greet women I haven't seen in months. We hit the ice, which is warm and sloppy and Olympic-sized. My ankles hurt. I'll need to buy shoulder pads this year. It feels good to play again.