The American Calgarian

Tales of a Midwesterner transplanted in Western Canada

Brave on Blades

We ask a lot of our kids this time of year.  They start school, new activities and clubs, new sports, new teachers, so many things.  At each point we tell them to be brave.  Enjoy the adventure.  Take a risk.

Our family is no different in that I have asked my kids to buck up quite a bit lately.  I have had to pull out a “Fredism” a few times.. “just go do it, its builds character”.  After the first two weeks of school and a couple of new activities, I think my kids would say that they have had enough character building, thank you.  Even so, I am proud of them.

Apprentice has been taking skating lessons for a couple of years on and off, as he wants to play hockey.  After the last round of skating sessions, he was given the thumbs up by the instructor that he is indeed ready to play novice hockey.  I signed him up.  I bought all the gear, (for those that don’t play hockey, there is a shitload of it).  Last weekend the sessions began where the coaches evaluate all the players so to divide them on teams.  The goal is to establish the novice league with as even-skilled teams as possible to maximize fun and learning of the sport.  The first morning, I was a wreck.  I gave Apprentice a pep talk as I helped him suit up.  Thankfully the guy at the hockey store had spent a gazillion patient hours with me so I felt okay getting all this stuff on him in the correct order.  Neck guard, elbow pads, shoulder pads.  Shorts that have velcro for hockey socks, jock strap and cup all in one easy piece, (hold up, my 7YO needs a CUP and jock strap? I don’t know how you guys walk around with those things), shin guards, hockey socks.  The jersey, skates, helmet, (with mouth guard) and gloves.  At the end of all this, Apprentice looked at me and I took a deep breath.  First, I was winded due to all the lacing and pulling and whatever.  Second, he looked like a big kid hockey player, no longer my baby boy.  What is happening here?  He took the ice with the other kids.  I waited in the bench area (bench? dugout? WTH is that area called in hockey?) until he seemed to get his skating legs back and was following instructions from the head coach.  I went up to the seating area to sit with other parents. 

The new kid in his class (just moved from Toronto) was also on the ice and he recognized Apprentice.  I took the opportunity to introduce myself to his mother upon setting seating in the (bleachers? stands? I don’t know what anything is called in hockey!).  She is quite nice.  She shared their previous hockey experience and politely answered all my stupid questions and how to dress these kids more efficiently and how this whole evaluation things works.  Day one completed, Apprentice comes off the ice.  He is so tired that I am surprised he didn’t fall asleep standing up.

The next day is an early session.  I took all the advice from the other mom and the morning went much more smoothly.  I dressed Apprentice at home, cranked the AC on the way to the rink.  I was even more nervous on the second morning, as I knew Apprentice was tuckered out.  JB and I had talked about worse case scenario – what if he doesn’t want to play? – after all, he is totally new.  These Canadian kids appear to have been fitted with hockey gear in utero and he had trouble keeping up on day one.  I texted a friend and hockey mom/player seeking a pep talk of my own.  She delivered big time.  I was going on about how I am not really doing any favors to the kid here, as I don’t know much about the sport and can’t coach him like I can when Jaybird wants to run a race or Mid wants to play tennis.  She assures me to stop coaching and just be there for him.  Practice over, Apprentice skates off the ice.  I thank Jen for (once again) calming my nerves regarding youth hockey.  Apprentice comes over to me and exclaims, “Hockey is awesome!” and I am all better.

Until Tuesday, when Mid starts his evaluations for basketball.  But that will wait for another day.


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