Another hockey season has come to an end for the Bantam hockey player in our house.
This means the giant black bag of odour that prompted the weekly game of “where is that wretched smell coming from?” has been put away until next September. Bottles of air freshener and scented candles will silently rejoice that their work here is done (at least until summer sneakers return).
No more watching the hockey bag steam in the cold winter night as the boy tossed it in my car’s hatchback, where it proceeded to steam up the windows and burn my eyes with a stench that even a sunroof in January cannot fumigate, making the seven-kilometer route from the arena to home almost unbearable. One day I will miss this. I already do.
When the puck dropped at centre ice for the final game, an away game in Acton, I was seated in the same spot I always sit in whenever we travel there: third row up from the glass, three seats in off the aisle. I am superstitious. So is my son. For every road game to Acton, I was the hockey parent to do the drive and if I went, our team won. If my spouse, the Carpenter, drove, the team lost. That made me the official good luck charm, though no male in my household would declare it. It’s okay, I know. That’s all that matters. I played my part.
I believe one of the greatest things about watching your children grow up is the moments when you realize that you admire them for the individuals they have become. Hockey has taught me a lot about my own child: his temperament, his humanity and his brilliant sense of humour.
I respect what the game has taught him too, even when the lessons were hard or unfair. Life is unfair. When he puts on skates, throws on the helmet and picks up that stick to step out on the ice, there isn’t a damn thing I can do to help him navigate the game. This is a very important life lesson for me, as a mother. Equip them, make sure they understand the rules and when to break them (because that time will come), and let them play their game their way.
We spend so much time as parents trying to make ends meet or make schedules work that we forget the whole point is about these experiences. That’s what we’re doing all this for. It’s these moments where you realize you’ve given them what they need, including the opportunities that maybe you didn’t have, to shape who they are and who they will be. Despite the fact that sometimes you want to scream at them to air out that (insert expletives in any random order) hockey bag, you know you’ll be back in that same seat – three rows up, three seats over – the minute he asks. Win or lose.
We went out on a win, for third place overall for the season, and we’re good with that. These athletes made hockey fun to watch. House league hockey is a great community where hockey is for everyone, but it wouldn’t happen without volunteers. Special thanks goes to coach Tom Keating for giving his time and to my fellow parents and grandparents who laughed, cheered and supported our kids: more important lessons about life and the game.
See you when the puck drops next season.