I'm trying to be a good hockey mom, but it seems I've got a lot to learn.
I had to learn early on after becoming a single mom how to tie skate laces and help my boys put on their equipment. I began by asking other veteran moms and dads in the change room, and everyone was more than willing to help. In talking to other parents and to my brothers, I sorted out where to send the boys for skating lessons and decided on a league for house league hockey.
I figured out where to go to buy them equipment. I even signed up for skating lessons with another mom so I could take my boys to public skating and skate with their class at school. I didn't want to have to beg friends and relatives to take my boys skating, so I figured I'd eliminate the excuses and learn to skate it myself.
But the boys are getting older and, as it turns out, I've still got a lot to learn about being a hockey mom. For instance, my parents took my oldest son, Ari, to his first game of the season a few weeks ago. I had Ari dressed and ready at 5:30 p.m. for a 7 p.m. game. By the time my parents picked him up, crawled through traffic and got to the game, Ari was so overheated and sick that they had to take him home.
With all my mistakes so fresh in my mind, I wanted to hang my head and cry.
Recently, I bumped into a friend who let me know that she saw Ari at an arena the other day and noticed that Ari's hockey socks were bunched around his ankles like slouch socks. "He needs to velcro them so they stay up, or you can tape them."
"Thank you," I mumbled. I appreciated the feedback, but was embarrassed nonetheless.
Last week, I realized another issue I'd have to tackle. As we watched Ari during a game, one sock again bunched around his ankle, we couldn't understand why he was falling down and rolling around on the ice like a bowling ball.
"I think his skates need to be sharpened," my mom told me. "I used to take your brothers' skates to be sharpened all the time -- like once a week."
"Once a week?" I balked. "I think I take them once a season!"
Sure enough, his blades were so dull that standing upright on them was impossible. Today, I skated with Ari's class and he didn't fall a single time. I also bought a new pair of hockey pants with Velcro that isn't so worn out. He has yet to test them out.
With all my mistakes so fresh in my mind, I wanted to hang my head and cry. Why is it that every other hockey mom seems to know these things? Why do I always feel like the only one who has difficulty making it to games that take place in some far-off arena in the middle of rush hour? Why is my kid the only one wearing slouch socks? Why didn't I realize blades need to be sharpened frequently, or that kids get overheated if you dress them too far in advance of their game?
Maybe there's hope for my future as a hockey mom.
Well, I didn't cry for myself or for how little hockey knowledge I currently have. Instead, I'd rather use these experiences as valuable life lessons. I won't make the same mistake twice. I won't make them with my younger son, because now I know better. And I won't hesitate to help other newbie hockey moms avoid my mistakes.
When I helped out at Ari's class skate today, I was asked by other moms and kids to help tie and untie hockey laces. I was able to clip on helmet straps. I was even able to skate over to one girl who had fallen to see if she was OK.
Maybe I'm not doing so badly after all. Maybe there's hope for my future as a hockey mom. I've improved markedly over the years, and that is an accomplishment in itself. Maybe this year I'll even build a rink in my back yard. Maybe.
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