First Love

  I’m pretty sure that if I had known all that was going to be involved I would never have said yes…but, when my son’s aunt called up and offered to pay I said sure, okay. She said that she would take care of the registration fee if I would agree to cover the cost of equipment. I was between pay cheques so I trundled off to the pawnshop to hock some jewelry.  Actually when I returned to get it a week later the gentleman who owned the store didn’t even charge me a fee. I don’t know if he was a fan (as I had explained my need for quick cash) but given the circumstances it was a kindness that I certainly could appreciate. And just like that everything changed.

 

I had grown up in a single parent household and there had never been money for any type of organized sports. My brother could skate but he’d never actually played hockey that I knew of. There was no hockey night in Canada in my house. When I finally married years later my husband would be shocked and somewhat appalled that I had never even heard of the Canada-Russia series. I had a vague idea of who Wayne Gretzsky and Bobby Orr were (another something scandalous to my Bruins fanatic husband) but I couldn’t have told you that they were Canadian. Don Cherry was an unknown to me as were the terms "original 6", "puck bunnies" and "hat trick". So even though I’d been born in the great white north, I was not born into the culture of hockey.

 

Before I got married to my hockey crazy husband I too was a single parent as my mother before me. I was, as I have already said, blissfully unaware of the gaping hole in my knowledge of the national pastime. My son had not even been on skates before his first hockey practice. He was enthusiastic and so was I as we headed off to the arena.  The place was teeming with what looked like hundreds of armored midgets. We found the change room and started to get ready. I wasn’t sure how everything went on but with a little help from one of the hockey dads we were set to go.

Thank God for all the padding, I think that my son spent more time lying on the ice than he did standing up. I was in the warm room watching the action on the ice through the large picture window when I heard two of the other mothers critiquing the 5 year olds who were on the ice.

 " Look," said the first one, “there are some kids who can’t even skate out there".

The other mother, absolutely horrified, answered, " You’ve got to be kidding".

It was my child they were referring to of course. He couldn’t skate but he didn’t care, he was having a great time. This was my first taste of NHL-itist.

NHL-itist, in case you don’t know, is a well known disease found around Canadian hockey rinks. The symptoms manifest themselves in an all consuming parental belief that it is only a matter of time until their little Johnny is noticed by a roaming scout and whisked off on a magical journey to the enchanted world of the NHL. I am fortunately immune to this particular disease. I actually have Dentist-itist which is a malady characterized by the fervent hope that your son will someday become a successful dentist (yeah! free dental care). So ambition free I was able to enjoy my little tyke rolling around on the ice in his little red Timbits jersey. Lord knows I had no idea once again and after such an auspicious start that he would become a beautiful and graceful skater. Later we’d always tell him he should have gone into figure skating (that was before I learned how much that cost!). He’s been playing hockey for ten years now and he still doesn’t have much of a shot but that boy can skate.

 

But back to that day in 1995, that day, my son discovered his first love. He discovered the joy of being one of a company of men, little 2 1/2 foot men but men nonetheless. He learned that it is fun to sweat, stink, and spit and to be a little bit, not a lot, "bad" (moms don’t seem to encourage that type of thing). It was never any problem to get him out of bed as early as 6 or even 5 am to go off to the rink. He loved it and still does. He’s played house league and competitive (travel) hockey and I’ll tell you that he liked the house league better. He’s had winning seasons full of trophies and medals and he’s had losing seasons where even I got tired of listening to myself say " Did you try your best? Then that’s all that matters”.  Trust me when your team hasn’t won even one game in a season those words start to sound pretty empty. This past year was the first time he had the opportunity to skate around the ice carrying a championship banner. But even if his team hadn’t gone all the way he’d still have came back this year. It’s what he is and it’s what does. Football might distract him, he actually managed to get knocked unconscious last year and he loved that, or lacrosse or dirt biking but hockey remains his first love.

 

September is here and I’m digging through the old equipment trying to figure out what I can make "last one more year". No amount of washing can remove the underlying stench of the "thrill of victory and the agony of defeat" (or should I say the smell of de’ feet). My son likes that smell. Halfway through hockey season I don’t even want to sit in the car with his bag and he actually can’t wait to put the malodorous contents on. Next Sunday will be his first time on the ice this season. Actually I’m sort of looking forward to it.

Don’t get me wrong I don’t enjoy the early mornings, arena coffee, occasional crazy parent, long road trips or cold weather and even colder arenas. What I’ll be watching for is that first step out onto the ice when skates kiss the cold hardness and my son slips into the rough embrace of the game. I know he doesn’t see it as a discipline, or a philosophy or as anything grandiose for that matter. To him it is what it is and that’s just fine. There is something to be said for the joy to be found in watching someone do something that they love with their whole being. When it all comes together, as sweaty and stinky and bruising as it is, for him it is his poetry, his life, his first and perhaps forever love.

 

Advertisements

26 thoughts on “First Love

  1. I think it\’s fantastic that your son is involved in a sport. It\’s also great that you\’re willing to sacrfice to help him realize his desire to play and to be part of a team. It\’s a huge sacrifice as a parent, one that you are rarely (if ever) thanked for.

    Like

  2. (¯`v´¯)¤ .`•.¸.•´ ¸.•´¸.•´¨) ¸.•*¨) (¸.•´ (¸.•´ .•´ ¸¸.•¨¯ Come on back and Join Momma\’s Place~♥~♥~♥~♥~♥~♥

    Like

  3. Fantastic! I don\’t even know where to start! First, beautifully written. Second, I could FEEL the cold and I have never been to a hockey rink and Canada.Third, and most importantly, thanks for being a caring, understanding (I could also SMELL the hockey bag… it smells just like mine…!) mom.Unless you have been there, immersed and obsessed with a sport you love, it is hard to understand the things we sports crazed people do. For me it was baseball (hockey came WAY later… after I had stopped bouncing and started breaking when I fell…sigh). I started at five. I sucked on my glove, picked flowers, watched the birds…. but my dad was always there. Then when it became all consuming, he was there still and just as excited.I will never forget the smell of the grass, the feel of the jersey, the "right fit" of a glove, the perfect sound of a ball hit off the sweet spot… and dad… always there helping (or chewing butt when I deserved it).Your son may not say it, but that is as important as anything. The fact that you are there, freezing and choking down terrible coffee in the middle of winter at 6am will be as important to the memories of hockey for him as any goal or championship. Long past any of that, he will remember the time he spent with you. I remember the times with my dad to this day (I\’m 38), but I don\’t remember one home run…Nice job, mom.

    Like

  4. My daughter is still searching as well. but she is a very young 19. Soon for her. We can only do what we are able to help them take the right steps. Take good care, and thanks so much for coming back to read my poems.~Silent

    Like

  5. (¯`v´¯)¤ .`•.¸.•´ ¸.•´¸.•´¨) ¸.•*¨) (¸.•´ (¸.•´ .•´ ¸¸.•¨¯Thank you for your comments … Come on back and Join Momma\’s Place~♥~♥~♥~♥~♥~♥

    Like

  6. @JunquedujourI don\’t know if he\’d agree with you on the lucky to have me as a parent thing. He wasn\’t too happy this evening as I told him he had to be home by 10 from his friend\’s house even though he\’s "Geeze mom…15 now" ;)@PPHow could I not support him in what he loves so much. I never realized my capacity for love until I had a child. I want to provide him with all the opportunities I can. I don\’t mean monetary things but actual opportunities so that he can find out what he likes and who he is.@ZaraI\’ll drop by@LuvleeAh the famous have honoured us with a visit…lolSome hockey mom\’s rule and some are psycho…I usually try to avoid those!@Gentle Teddy BearThanks@The Big LeapI can actually see you with your little glove and baseball hat. I bet your dad had the time of his life watching you grow to love and become a part of something larger than yourself. You\’re right though I don\’t understand why someone (sports crazy…lol) would dress up in smelly damp hockey equipment and fling himself into what amounts to full tilt warfare but I do respect it and I respect what it\’s done for my son. It has been an absolutely incredible experience for him. He\’s learned to win and lose gracefully. He\’s learned to sacrifice and get along with people he doesn\’t like. He\’s made friends I honestly believe he will have for the rest of his life. He\’s learned the advantage of team work and how success is directly related to the amount of work you put into something. Even when it was bad it was good and when it was good it was incredible. It was worth every minute of smelly car rides, frozen toes and bad coffee.@SilentIt is hard but hopefully we\’ve laid the right groundwork and it helps them find their way. I enjoy reading your poems. There is a common thread, a voice, your voice, that runs through them that seems familiar and draws me back.

    Like

  7. Hey thanks for your words of encouragement. But if I had really gotten a chance, at the time, I would have thrown much more than a laundry basket – maybe a whole hockey team psyched up – would have done the trick. (just kidding) But thanks also for you little survey below, it was interesting..

    Like

  8. aw, that\’s awesome. i don\’t know a single thing about hockey, but i do think it\’s a cool sport. and i do think it\’s excellent to let kids puruse their interests, whatever they may be (unless their interests are animal sacrifice and bank robbery).p

    Like

  9. I never thought of it that way… Youre reasoning as ever wins through lol. I cant see past a little piece of pressed metal that probably cost 5 pence to make and 1 minute to cut it…. Craig x

    Like

  10. Your entry got me thinking about a lot of things. I hope you don\’t mind, but I wrote an entry in my blog that tries to explain what sports has meant to me as a "sports nut" kid (and adult). Thanks again for the great insight.B

    Like

  11. For my family it was Fastball (Softball). I was never that good at it. I was a teenager when I finally started batting with my eyes opened. My Sister (Tina) and Brother were the best. Both could have gone far if they wanted to, but Tina had trouble with her elbow on her throwing arm. Okay, the point was, as with "The Big Leap" my parents never missed a game, (unless they were at one of the other kids games) Man, my family probably held the "Spitz" company together back then (Sunflower seeds – we ate so many bags at the games). And they are right. My Dad was umpire so many times when the official never showed up, you would have thought he was an official. He always called the plays as he saw them, always honest and fair. Seeing I wasn\’t the best player, the love of the game and the family support were tied in my eyes. So many kids never had anyone cheering on the sides. And sometimes it was a row of like 10 lawn-chairs with just my family (we are big and close). I\’m so glad he has a Mom who allows him to be himself (and pays the BIG BUCKS for hockey each year), a lot of parents don\’t support their children in their interests unless they are "Realistic", but you do and you\’re there cheering him on!! Awesome.

    Like

  12. I just posted a picture of my family at one of my sister Tina\’s games, ypou\’ll get the point of the whole row being our family . . .

    Like

  13. those 2 women sitting there criticizing the 5 yr olds skating need to be smacked in the mouth w/the pointy part of a skate. i\’ll never understand people like that.

    Like

  14. @CWW3It\’s probably for the best that time gives us some perspective on things and we can laugh about it , at least a little bit, latter. =)@PatresaLol…"unless their interests are animal sacrifice and bank robbery"…You do have to pick your battles!@CraigSigh..I actually have this perspective because I had to pay $70.00 on the one ocassion I locked myself out of the house. It took the guy all of 15 seconds to open the door. In hindsight I would have gladly paid a percentage of that just to have a second key hanging around.@The Big LeapI don\’t mind at all. If anything I\’ve written has struck a chord with you I\’m more than happy to see where that leads.@PeppertoothGod bless your family. I respect every rainy, cold, hot, muggy ,insect filled hour they spent being a part of you and your siblings lives.I didn\’t miss a single one of my son\’s games or practices until he was around twelve years old. I had to go to my brother\’s wedding so I only saw half of a game (my son was at his dad\’s place that weekend so he wasn\’t going to the wedding). My husband has coached my son\’s team for many years (the good stepdad that he is) and I also contributed by being team manager and creating and maintaining team web sites. It\’s funny that as the only person who lives at my house who doesn\’t play hockey that I\’m the one who received the worse hockey injury (caught a puck in the eye, 15 stitches and damage to my optic nerve) but I don\’t regret any of it and I\’m sure your parents would say the same thing. Your children are your life and that is the way it should be. I know that you and Mike will do the same for your children. They are very lucky girls.L=)@aimsky27 lol. I\’m sure that by now the realisation that their little "phenoms" aren\’t the next Gretzsky has finally sunk in. That will have to be satisfaction enough.

    Like

  15. Wow, I got here from the space called the big leap. I can relate, my daughter just started soccer, i never was a sports gal. Anyway, love your space, can I borrow the three things quiz and of course giving you credit?MtnWmn

    Like

  16. I am so excited for him. I really hope he has a great season, and also that you got caught up on your sleep this summer. Because 5am mornings to go stand in a freezing cold ring isn\’t my idea of fun. But I completely understand why you do it. All I can say is thank goodness for Tim Hortons.Good LuckAmanda

    Like

  17. @GaKatsoupActually I\’ve been to our son\’s site and it certainly looks like all your sacrifice paid off…great job!@Rosesiren1 lol I\’ve just been to your site and left a comment in your guest book. :)…I didn\’t know you\’d left a comment here.I don\’t mind if you borrow the 3 questions thing at all. My sister sent it to me …she loves little quizzies ( you know "what kind of drink are you" etc.) My son used to play soccer as well. It was that cold, sideways driving rain in the spring that I always thought was the worst of that whole thing. Shhhh- don\’t tell him but I wasn\’t all that unhappy when he decided (after 5 years mind you) that soccer didn\’t hold the charms it once did. Good luck to your little one on the field. =)@AmandaThanks=)God bless Tim Hortons! I try to have it whenever I can. Unfortunately most of the smaller towns my son plays in don\’t have a Timmy\’s…sigh. What can ya\’ do?! ;PL

    Like

  18. Wow – you sound just like my mom (a huge compliment, obviously). My brother is 14 and has been on every team – it\’s HIS first love, before golf and baseball. One year when she told me the cost of ice time, equipment, lessons, I was relieved my son enjoys his skateboard.

    Like

  19. @Indigolol, hockey is a pocketbook killer. At one time my stepson played as well (he doesn\’t anymore) and my stepdaughter was involved in precision skating, sigh. Oh well it\’s just money. You only get to be a kid once. I do know that skateboarding can get a little expensive, special wheels and designer boards and such. My girlfriend\’s son keeps a skateboard graveyard in his bedroom. Apparently you\’re supposed to hold onto all your old boards for whatever reason. She says it saves her money on decorating!

    Like

  20. Does this make you a \’puck bunny\’ then? Or a hockey mom? Being British its all new to me. Much like football dads here, taking their sons and daughters to the dew soaked pitches at the weekend, then washing the dirt off their kits and mud off the boots, dissecting the off side trap then watching the big game down the pub with the other dads, drinking beer and shouting at the telly lol. Craig x

    Like

  21. yes. I remember the days at the hockey rink. Not as many as you, but there to support my grandchildren in their sport. Learning not to boo the other teams as parents, mostly moms bigger than me, giving me dirty stares. Yelling at the top of my lungs for the victory shot that wins the game, slamming the protective glass as each winning goal for my team hits the net. I know know why the glass is there to protect the spectators. I was not as brave as you to drink the coffee that in itself was bravery beyond the call of duty. Yes hockey moms and dads deserve the pats on the back for the early morning calls, the long drives and the cold arenas. All for the love of Children.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s