I am a hockey mom

I just can’t resist.

As my 50th birthday looms in the not-too-distant future, I am thinking of the milestones I had hoped to achieve in my life by now.  I’ve got most of the important ones covered:  Grade 8 trip to Quebec City,  a degree, Europe, career, husband, car, kids, house, and a little money in the bank.   True, I want to make sure I can walk to the bathroom on my own steam, and wipe my own drool off my chin, so I should leave those on the list.  But seriously, what else is there?

Well, come to think of it, there is one little thing I might like to do.  I’m thinking maybe I might play professional hockey in the NHL.  Oh yeah,  I think I could pull it off.

Did anyone else happen to catch this sports story about the 51-year old beer league goalie called up as an emergency back-up for a real NHL game?  I am not kidding.   In a sequence of unusual events, the Minnesota Wild hockey team found themselves needing a back-up goalie because their #1 couldn’t play and it was touch and go as to whether their call-up would get there on time.   Though Paul Deutsch did participate in the pre-game warm-up, the Wild’s call-up from the farm team was actually able to make it the game just in the nick of time.  Somewhere in the NHL rule book it states that the emergency backup goalie cannot be one with professional experience. Swear to God this only happens in hockey.  Poor Paul was relegated back to the equipment room to change out of his suit of armour.

As a mom to 3 goalies, I’ve weathered their share of disappointments at not being invited onto certain competitive teams.  Now this here’s just the kind of inspiration I can give them, being the amazing hockey mom that I am!  I can now tell them to think about Paul Deutsch and his 15-minutes of pre-game warm-up glory.  Maybe one day that will be one of my kids.   

I’ll be the happiest 83-year old hockey mom out there!

 

 

My husband and I are having a minor disagreement about noisemakers.  No, I don’t mean our children, although we do disagree about them plenty.  We are talking about my hockey fan noisemakers.  Now, for most people, noisemakers probably evoke the image of kazoo-like tooter that is synonymous with New Year’s Eve music making.  Or for others, it probably brings back memories of the constant drone of the vuvuzela in the background of the FIFA World Cup Soccer Championships from South Africa in 2010.

The "lucky" earrings

Noisemakers are shakers, and I use them shamelessly at my kids’ hockey games.  They’re nothing special, just old empty water or Gatorade bottles semi-filled with coffee beans that make a great shaker noise reminding me of musical shakers from the percussion family of instruments.  My dear husband thinks differently.  He thinks they’re embarrassing and obnoxious.  “Isn’t it enough that you wear your lucky earrings and team scarf?” he asks.  Nope, I don’t think so.  Personally, I think he should consider himself lucky that I’m not the foam finger-sporting kind, or one that paints my face red, white and black.  But I do like my noisemakers.  They are tension relievers for this stressed out goalie mom.  The noise that comes from my noisemaker drowns out the noise in my head steeped in sheer panic.

Anyway, he took my daughter to her first tournament game last weekend.  He hemmed and hawed about packing the noisemakers.  Pretended he didn’t have room or something like that.  Seriously, like I would fall for that.

So now word has got out that I am not going to the Lysander Hockey Association Thanksgiving Tournament in Syracuse.  He will be going instead and taking my middle son, while I manage the hockey home front.  As most of you could have predicted, some of the other moms asked me to make sure the noisemakers were packed.  You see, I made 24 of them to ensure there were enough to go around.  Don’t want anyone feeling left out, after all.  Anyway, that’s enough for 12 moms to have 2 each, because the hockey dads seem a little reluctant to shake theirselves.

So, once again, I remind him to not forget the noisemakers and he once again he is balking.  This time, not about the lack of room (it’s true:  a quick stop at the duty-free will seriously cut back on the free space in his car!).  No, this time he thinks they’re going to get confiscated by the border officials.  My coffee bean-filled water bottles.  Can you not just picture it?

Border official:  Passports, please. Where you folks from?

DH: Ottawa.

Border official:  Where are you headed?

DH:  A hockey tournament in Syracuse (it will be tough for the border official to dispute this, given the mound of goalie equipment in the back of the Jeep, in case the stench doesn’t tip him off first).

Border official:  Any alcohol or tobacco on board?

DH:  No sir (boldface lie, but I don’t blame him for leaving this part a little on the vague side).

Yes, these coffee beans are being tortured

Border official:  What’s in that black bag?

DH:  Why, they’re noisemakers, sir…(we Canadians are so polite, after all)

Border official: Noisemakers?! Did you say noisemakers?!  Are you not aware that they are a contravention of Homeland Security’s US Container Security Initiative, Section 403, clause 4, subclause (a) strictly prohibiting noisemakers from Canada entering US soil???!  I’m afraid I’m going to have to confiscate them right now!

DH:  Why no sir!  I didn’t know.  So sorry, sir!  Here.  Take them …

I’m pretty sure that’s how DH thinks it will unfold.  To spare himself and my son this border crossing humiliation and blatant act of terrorsim, the noisemakers might end up being left on Canadian soil.  So. If your US Thanksgiving travels take you across the border for whatever reason and you are welcomed into Canada or back into with a chorus of border officials singing, In the Jungle, shaking MY noisemakers, you’ll know why…

I gotta get those noisemakers to Syracuse!

I’m shakin’ it while I still got somethin’ to shake!

Car chats – Part I

On the road again...

I spend a lot of time in my car. 

Not just because I drive to and from work, but also because I drive to and from hockey – A LOT of hockey.  These days, these car rides provide an opportunity for peace and quiet as my teenagers plug in and tune out (a fine legacy of Steve Jobs, I might add).  My two teenage boys are generally a quiet pair these days anyway as convo with their mother is not a cool way to spend their time. No matter, I think to myself, I got my coffee, I got my own own music, don’t worry be happy, right? My 11-year old daughter is still the chatty Cathy (and her name’s not Cathy by the way, I think it’s Linda Blair or something like that).

Anywho, once in a blue moon I am enlightened by my kids.  Here’s what I mean:

On a 4-hour trip from Ottawa to Toronto for a tournament, my oldest son spoke precisely six words to me.  And what were those six words? “That was a really good book!”  I know! I couldn’t believe it either, since I was convinced the only thing he could read started with the words , “In sports news today …” Ah, hope springs eternal with a sprinkle of creativity: I had secretly downloaded S.E. Hinton’s “The Outsiders” audiobook onto his iPod before leaving on our epicly quiet hockey road trip .  He actually noticed it there and listened to it. Not being a particularly avid readers, I am constantly looking for sneaky little ways to talk book talk with my boys.  He loved it. What I didn’t even realize, however, was they were studying this book at school and he was a little behind in his reading. The audiobook had saved his hide for English class on Monday.  Hope they have one of these for Twelfth Night…

I prefer to live with PonyBoy tuff talk for a while.

Upon being eliminated from an entirely different Toronto tournament, I took my middle guy downtown to see the King Tutankhamun on exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario a while back.  I had somehow missed his transition from dinosaur boy to full-blown Egyptologist, and instead of listening to Eminem or Skrillex all the way home, I got 4 hours of the life and times of Howard Carter and the various conspiracy theories surrounding King Tut’s death. Not sure which is worse. He didn’t even laugh at my Steve Martin version, either. Sheesh!

But I can live with an Egyptologist for a while.

More recently, on our car ride home from our Cornwall tournament, my daughter and I were blasting out Adele, Katy Perry (a little slack here please; her team nickname is The Fireworks, after all), and even the Bieb. Shortly after belting out a Carrie Underwood favourite, I asked her, “So, if a boy ever cheats on you, you’re totally dumping him, right?” She still young, so I am still privy to some of her innermost secrets (aka, the latest crush).

“Totally!” was her response, “and I’d also send him a harshly worded letter too”.   

A harshly worded letter? What the ….?!!!

Who says that about a rotten boyfriend, anyway … Jane Austen? Kate Middleton?

I’m not sure I could live with this.  I invited her to consider taking a more assertive approach and maybe ‘take a Louisville slugger to both headlights’ or some other form of public ridicule but she said “Wouldn’t I get in trouble  for that?” Anti-bullying week and all, y’know.

I told her perhaps that just this once it would be worth it. 

What pivotal or riveting car conversations have you had recently?

My daughter is but one of the 1,400 girls registered to play minor hockey in the Metro Ottawa Girls Hockey League, and since I do not play hockey myself, I realize I am not uniquely qualified to write about girls hockey.   I can’t help it though – and since there’ are just way too few happy stories in sports these days – take a leap of faith with me!

There are some Canadian men who still think girls hockey is not real hockey. I find this a little dippy since there are those at Hockey Canada who are taking keen interest in the fact that while men/boys registration in hockey has stagnated over the last few years, women’s/girls hockey has increased by 68% over the last ten years and registration now boasts over 85,000 a year, making up 15% of of the 570,000 Canadians playing organized hockey in Canada.  Which begs the question:  What are the other 35,500,000 Canadians doing all winter?? 

We have just returned from the 28th Annual Cornwall Girls Hockey Tournament, just she and I. One of the cool things about this particular girls hockey tournament is that it provides for an annual pilgrimage to the small eastern Ontario city along the St. Lawrence Seawaywhere I lived for 11 of my formative years.  This presents endless opportunities for me to bore regale my daughter with nonstop tales of “I used to live here”, “I used to work here”, and “I used to go to school here”.  This year, all my daughter’s games were played in the brand new Benson Centre, surely a new standard for sports complexes, but I was still somewhat wistful upon seeing the gaping hole in the ground where once stood the old Water Street Arena. Memories of my Saturday night public skating adventures could not be contained in the construction barrier now erected.

So I still bitch about there being not much else to do in Cornwall(which I am uniquely qualified to do because I lived there), yet this hockey tournament weekend is particularly fun because of two other facts: it’s girls hockey, and we stay at the The NavCentre.

Girls Hockey…

The fundamental difference between girls hockey and boys hockey is not played out on the ice, it’s in the packing:

Hockey gear?

Check!

Game jerseys?

Check!

Sticks?

Check!

Nail polish and hair straightener?

Check!

And the personal hygeine accoutrements don’t stop there. Yes, my car still stinks like a gym locker, but damn, if we don’t look good! I have previously posted some other differences between boys and girls hockey; so if you’re interested in a primer, you can find that post here.

Sporting their new matching team T-shirts, a generous gift from their volunteer coach, our 2012-12 Fireworks set off over Cornwall (that’s the team nickname, not a display of pyrotechnics, but the resulting experience is roughly the same) along with their stuffed mascot, MoJo.

The NavCentre …

On any given day, the NavCentre is a training facility of NavCanada which responsible for our nation’s air traffic controllers. At check-in, instead of staring into nondescript hotel chain logo, NavCan front desk boasts a huge flat screen
computer monitor that depicts with accuracy all the airplanes currently in transit in all ofNorth America.  It’s a totally cool and extremely captivating visual that briefly takes my attention away from the damage waiver I am asked to sign.

On this particular weekend in November, though, NavCentre is also fully booked but with well over a thousand moms and dads (okay, so I lied, it wasn’t exactly just she and I) attending this annual girls hockey tournament with their hockey bag-toting, hairbrush-wielding daughters ages 6 through 14 (which has seriously got to be better than over a thousand air traffic controller trainees, don’t you think?!). Conference rooms are converted into pizza rooms, while foyers are converted into dance floor (to say nothing of the makeshift bars along the way… hic!) for these Chicks with sticks.  The halls are ripe with estrogen:  serious dance routines, several simultaneous games of  Man Hunt, group manicures, hair wrapping, jewellry making, and piles of whatever else kind of fun, while the  security guards that generally look the other way.  Except in my case, however, he did NOT look the other way as I carried my open container of fun from one room to another.   Apparently alcoholic beverages in an unlicensed area is a big faux-pas. I better tell Karen to put a lid on her – uh – coffee cup.

A win-loss-tie record was not enough for us to advance beyond round robin play but this disappointment was quickly quelled by the many other distractions including a lax curfew, plenty of popcorn, and pyjama-casual dress code.  My mother called us upon hearing that her grand-daughter’s team had been eliminated from the tournament to see how she was taking the devastating news. My daughter was running in the opposite direction with her teammates in their matching new t-shirts with a big bag of barbeque potato chips and 3 cans of pop.

I’d say she’s taking it pretty well.

The memories of these hockey weekends inCornwallat NavCentre will be remembered longer than the score of any of her hockey games.

Player - er rather - Goalie of the Game

This past Friday night, my three kids had no hockey commitments.  No, really.  No hockey.  I think the last time this happened, the moon was in the seventh house and Jupiter aligned with Mars.  Unfortunately and rather ironically, our 5th dimension (husband/father), was taking clients to the Ottawa Senators game against the Montreal Canadiens.  So the kids and I were left on our own to steer the stars.

The hockey calendar usually dictates our existence, and without any edict from Lord Zamboni, we were a little lost.  It requires considerable planning and negotiation to coordinate a joint-operation of our family’s Social Committee and considering the majority voting members are 15, 14 and 11 years old, I knew convening this group meant little or no thought would be devoted to my entertainment choices.  Even without my vote, consensus in our family is as achievable as a Stanley Cup victory for the Leafs (couldn’t resist).  After a brief meeting in the Situation Room over chicken parmigiana, we reached a tenuous agreement.  In the end, one of us stayed home to eat, sleep and game, and the other two decided on a movie; naturally, not the same movie.  That would have truly stretched our truth and understanding, sympathy and trust abounding.  How was this impasse resolved?  All hail The Devine Cineplex-Odeon, true Sovereign of Cinema, who delivered unto me 2 movies that started AND ENDED, 15 minutes apart. While I do pine for the old red velvet seats of reel-to-reel movie theatres, it is wonderful to have an abundance of choices. 

While my oldest joined some friends at Paranormal Activity 3 in an adjoining theatre, my Dear Daughter and I decided upon Puss In Boots, a newly released spin-off of the Shrek series.  And just so you know, that’s 1h34 minutes and $14.95+ of popcorn I’ll just never get back.  Because it was Friday night around 7 o’clock, I soon started nodding off and found myself fantasizing about having sex with a cat.  Yes, it was that good.  I mean the movie, not the sex with the cat.  I closed my eyes briefly and all I hear is the sound of Antonio Banderas (voice of Puss), purring to me something along the lines of “The winds of fate have blown on my destiny, but I will never forget you.  You are the one true love of my life” into my sweet reverie.  I am sticking to my mother-daughter bonding experience as the official reason for this outing, so she needn’t ever know that the ONLY reason I agreed to her choice was to hear that voice speak to me.  I know.  It’s sad.  So she and I shared some buttered popcorn and while she found the undeniable cuteness of the movie’s animation totally irresistible, I tried my best to savour every word spoken by the sexy furry feline, rejecting all thoughts that it was very possible that Antonio may, in fact, have been neutered.

So how was your Friday night?

Did I mention it was 3-D?  The movie, silly, not Antonio Banderas. 

Although …

 

Contract for Services Rendered

This agreement is made this day of Friday October 6, 2011 between Better Hockey Parent (hereinafter referred to as “the Provider”), having its principal place of business in Hockeyville, Canada and Ever-Growing-Lazy Hockey Parent (hereinafter referred to as “the Client”), having its principal place of business down the street from Hockeyville, Canada.

The Client hereby engages the Provider to provide services described herein under “Scope and Manner of Services.” The Provider hereby agrees to provide the Client with such services in exchange for consideration described herein under “Payment for Services Rendered.”

Scope and Manner of Services

Services to be rendered by Provider:

  1. Deliver by all means possible but legal, the appropriate hockey playing offspring to Saturday morning practice at designated time (0600) and specified location (see team website); and,
  2. Ensure all manner of protective equipment is available and appropriated engaged during aforementioned 0600 practice; and
  3. Return appropriate hockey playing offspring to principal place of residence following practice; or (if return time is estimated to be earlier than 0800h),
  4. Appropriately engage and supervise appropriate hockey playing offspring until the designated time of return.

Payment for Services Rendered by Client:

The Client agrees to pay the Provider for services rendered according to the Payment Schedule attached, within one (1) calendar day of the end of the 2011-2012 minor hockey season for services rendered from the Provider.

  1. Reimbursement for all Tim Horton’s coffee supply and required sustenance (i.e. donuts, Timbits, Red Bull) for aforementioned 0600 practice; and
  2. Provide necessary reasonable and customary reimbursement of all fees associated with required skate sharpening fees for the 2011-2012 hockey season (including any and all play-off games); and,
  3. Assume responsibility for all fundraising activities of offspring’s teammate for the 2011-2012 hockey season, including but not limited to
    1.  bottle drives,
    2. pumpkin sales,
    3.  raffles,
    4. Christmas wreath sales,
    5. chocolate bar sales,
    6.  gift card sales,
    7. PamperedChef product sales,
    8. fantasy hockey pool participation, and
    9. any other extraordinary fundraising activities partaken by the team; and,
  4. Provide necessary and appropriate infusions for the next out-of-town hockey tournament (strictly limited for consumption by only those that have reached the age of majority in the specified location of the out-town hockey tournament) including reimbursement of intermittent but probable watering hole tab; and,
  5. Provide pleasingly scented seasonal laundry service for all UnderArmor garments and socks associated with and worn during the 2011-2012 minor hockey season (the Provider shall designate appropriate rotation and delivery of said garments); and,
  6. Be appointed, and provide safe and reliable service as, the designated driver for the Provider and the Provider’s Spouse to the parent hockey party whichever date immediately follows the date of abovementioned 0600 hockey practice.

Should the Client fail to pay the Provider the full amount specified in any of the aforementioned clauses within the date specified by the Provider, a late fee equal to Offspring’s Teammate’s first-year tuition fees at an accredited college or university of their enrolment, shall be paid and interest of 10 percent per annum shall accrue from the calendar day following the end of the 2011-2012 hockey season.

Applicable Law

This contract shall presumably be governed by the laws of the County of Canada and in the Province of Ontario and any applicable but not entirely useful law, rule, precedent, practice, tradition, routine, habit of typical hockey parents.

Signatures

In witness of their agreement to the terms above, the parties or their authorized agents (not to include abovementioned offspring or teammate of offspring) hereby affix their signatures:

____________________________________

Better Hockey parent   

____________________________________

Ever-Growing-Lazy Hockey Parent

 

Author’s note:  You think this is bad?  You should see the contract drawn up when my husband has to take our kids to 6am hockey practices! A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

Did I tell you I’m a hockey mom?  I’m pretty excited for this season, now that all my three kids are now all finally settled on to their respective hockey teams.  I have one playing Minor Midget RepB, another playing Bantam House A and my youngest, my daughter, playing Peewee House.  All goalies.  Yes, as a matter of fact I am in the market for a new flask, thanks for asking! Have you seen these?  On my Christmas wish list but not sure if I can wait that long! Not sure if I can make it past this weekend!

Nevertheless, there are some new parents on our three teams and given that I am a pro (it’s pretty much official:  I’ve now been circulating the arena scene much longer than I ever circulated the night club scene), I think it’s only fair I warn them about my Top Hockey Parent Peeves.  Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental (but you know who you are):

Peeve #1:

If you insist on repeatedly pointing out to all parents on our team, that your child had about 30 seconds less ice time than any of the other players you will be voted off my Zamboni waaaay before the tribe has spoken (and my zamboni has a marguerita maker … your loss!).  I’m pretty sure the coach will do his or her best to even it out over the next 42,420 seconds of possible game time over the course of the season.

Pet Peeve #2

If you’re that good a coach, why aren’t you behind the bench?  Uh, maybe it’s because you’re not actually that good a coach.  If you insist on coaching your kid from the stands, I will give you the stink eye.  If you yell, “Kill him!” more than once a season (we all make mistakes), I may have to kill you myself. 

 Peeve #3 

C’mon, be serious.  The ref might NOT actually need glasses, might NOT be skating with his eyes closed and is probably perfectly aware of the fact there are two teams on the ice.  This is not a full time gig for them, you know.  If the referees were really that great, do you honestly think they’d still be officiating minor league hockey games earning $20 a game?  Therefore, as h-u-m-a-n, they might actually miss the occasional hook, trip, offside or kicked-in goal.  Give them – and me – a break, please.

Peeve #4 

You needn’t incessantly point out that your kid is better than everyone else’s.  We get it:  s/he’s good.  But we’re all crazy hockey parents here and believe me, if your kid is really that good, s/he would be playing one or two levels up, as you insist s/he should be.  If you actually think you kid is going to the NHL, let me ask you this:  How many kids play hockey in Canada?  Answer:  almost all of them (okay, but I’m sure I’m close).  How many kids make it to the NHL?  Answer:  almost none of them.  Here’s a plan:  start saving for your retirement. 

Peeve #5 

Plastic wine glasses.  I have a travel wine glass and a portable frig that holds exactly 3 bottles of wine (and perhaps some milk and juice for my kids).  What does this have to do with hockey (actually, nothing; like most of my posts about hockey)?  There are a lot of compromises I will make while staying at the Super8 Motel while at hockey tournaments, but drinking out of plastic is not one of them.  I have standards.  Please don’t call me a princess – you and your sweaty beer can dripping with condensation will just have to get over it.  And please don’t break my wine glass.

You see?  I am a very reasonable hockey mom!  I’m here to have fun … just like your child, by the way.  Avoid these pet peeves of mine, and we shall all have a lovely season. 

Game on!

When I complain about headaches, my husband tells me all the time, “When you get out of bed, it’s feet first!”

Ba-dum-bum.  I stole that from a Henny Youngman classic.

Things are going to be different in hockey this year.  There has been so much chatter and twitter about concussions lately.  It’s all the talk in hockey town these days.  First, my daughter’s favourite Sidneyhas not been able to play hockey since January 2011 and his return to the NHL is still unknown (good thing she has a life size poster of him in her bedroom to tide her over).  Several recent tragic deaths of NHLers, allegedly suicides, have raised awareness regarding the lingering effects of concussions and their link to mental illness.  Finally, Hockey Canada has initiated a new head contact rule for minor hockey and every hockey association in Canada is initiated or expanding their non-checking divisions (checking starts at the Peewee level, ages 10-12, in my boys’ association for both competitive and recreational hockey, and does not exist at all in my daughter’s association).

I have 3 kids in hockey – I’m thankful they are goalies.  Actually I am NOT thankful they are goalies as they’ve made my pure enjoyment of the game virtually impossible (see post) and my official induction to AA entirely likely.  I can concede, however, that head shots are not typically directed at the goalie of the team – unless of course you’re my 15-year old son who insists on pointing out to every player he’s thwarted that their mother wears army boots … or something like that (my hearing’s not so good anymore).

Hockey Canada’s poster about their new head contact rule doesn’t make me happy though.  This is the sign my husband usually gives me when I have my more than occasional perio-menopausal moments.  Now I’m going to have to see that hand signal 10 times a game and it’s really going to confuse me!  Did I forget something again?  Why is that zebra on the ice giving me the What were you thinking?! sign?  Who does he think he is?  Only my husband can give me the What were you thinking?! sign!  Maybe that zebra IS my husband (my vision’s not so good anymore)!

I have seen some hockey hits that make me feel truly nauseous (or was that the canteen coffee?).  Though I approve Hockey Canada’s decision to implement this new rule (I know, like they care), the ripple effect will be go all the way to the local hospital emerg room.  There will be decidedly few kids there due to concussions sustained in the wickedly violent game of hockey (which is good) but I’m not so sure my experiences in the emerg waiting room will be near as satisfying (which is bad).

Me:  So… what are you here for?
Player:  I got slammed into the boards from behind by some jerk on the other team.
Me:  Oh, that’s a bummer [since I’m totally hip to the teenage lingo].  Gotta headache?
Player:  Yeah, but we won the game so it’s ok.  How ‘bout you?
Me:   I knocked myself out on the upper bunk making my kid’s bed*.
Player:    [Loser]

So NOW, with fewer kids in the waiting rooms with concussions due to injuries sustained in hockey, the conversation in the waiting room of my recurrent hospital visits will be decidedly different:

Me:   What are you here for?
The Drunk (not to be confused with me talking to myself):  I banged my head on the street lamppost after I left the bar.
Me:    Bummer, that sucks.
The Drunk:  Yeah, but I don’t remember anything so it’s cool.  How ‘bout you?
Me:   My husband caught me banging my head against the wall again and brought me in.
The Drunk:   Bummer, that sucks.  I like that white jacket you’re wearing.  Can I have it?
Me:   Yeah, I don’t remember anything, so it’s cool.  Am I wearing a white jacket?  Oh!   So I am.  I guess we can share!  What are you here for?

Things are going to be different in hockey this year.

 

* I didn’t pass out but this actually happened to me – I swear to God I’ve given myself a concussion! And that upper bunk has been there for 5 years!  How do I keep forgetting it’s there??!!

 

A gentle breeze is blowing today.  I sense its soft breath puff onto my face, seeking to divert my attention away from my summer reverie.  I know this breeze and I am not fooled for a minute. I know this breeze will soon become a wind, transferring its energy to my still waters, causing friction between the molecules of my calm Summer and my gusty Fall.  It begins as a ripple; the genesis of a wave, but soon evolves.  The winds will become stronger; causing more friction, creating a white cap.  It’s likely a storm will course its way forward, causing larger waves, and then they will crash their churning, frothy mess on the shore only to be wrenched backward subsiding into calm waters once again.  I know not to turn my back, for this surf will only rise again.  The minute I look away, it will sneak up and knock my warm and wooly socks off.

The hockey season is upon me.

It’s extraordinary how the National Hurricane Center tries to create an up-close and personal experience with hurricanes by giving them a name.  How could something so sweetly tagged evoke such anxiety, tension and fear?  So I’ve been thinking (pre-season generously affords me a few moments to do so).  If the National Hurricane Center can assign names to hurricanes, why should I not assign a name to the whirlwind tempest that is our annual hockey season?  Rather than plagiarize from the list published by the Center, I was thinking I should use the name of the NHL’s first round draft pick.  Not a bad idea, but for the fact I can’t see myself running around all winter writing about my Hurricane first-ever-first-round-draft-pick-with-hyphenated-name-Nugent-Hopkins.  So rather than complicating an already complicated time of the year, it just comes down to plain old simplicity:  Season 11 is beginning to form.  Season 11 – my 11th season as a hockey mom.  “Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays the courageous [hockey moms] from the swift completion of their appointed [ice times]…” as I continue to deliver at least 1 goalie to each of our three yet to be appointed teams!

Let’s play …

The 2010-11 hockey season, now officially over, was continually pierced with apprehension and worry.  Not because the Sens and the Leafs struggle for a playoffs berth, much to absolutely no one’s surprise, did not happen. No, you see, though I have been a hockey mom for 11+ years, this was my first season as a hockey mom of three goalies.  Three goalies. I have lived under the same roof for 8 months now with three – 3 – goalies and one goalie dad.  While my kids were peppered with shots, I was peppered with stress. Who, out there, can top that? If I had a nickel for every time I heard “I could never be a goalie mom”, well, never mind; you get the idea.  I just smile as no witty reply comes to mind.   My kids’ time in the creases has aged me, added wrinkles and grey hairs.

Being a goalie in hockey is a position that often garners special attention.  Usually goalies are unique, sometimes peculiar people with even more peculiar superstitions bordering on OCD.  I hope my kids’ bias for the position is no reflection on how them and how we’ve raised them.  So as the season began late last year, I was the goalie’s mom:  one atom goalie and two bantam goalies.  There are a few things that I now know for sure.

This I know:  you can always pick out a goalie mom in the stands by her distinctive moves.  Before the game, I casually blend in with the other hockey parents, but once the puck drops and the game officially begins, the tell-tale “Goalie mom” signs begin to manifest themselves.  As the puck crosses the blue line, I am the one slowly starting to rock back and forth in goalie mom stupor.  I believe that if no one on the ice can do it, my sheer willpower will get that puck out of our zone.  Magically, as the puck is cleared, the trance-like swaying ceases and I can resume normal cheering for a goal.  If the puck fails to be cleared from our zone, I am the one with her hands in prayer position or covering her eyes while maintaining my bobbling.  Namaste, Namaste, om, om, om. If all else fails, a cheery  “Dammit, move the puck outta there!!!” is shouted unless I can’t because I am holding my breath.

This I know: a goalie mom had eyes on the back of her head.  I now possess amazing periphery vision because I’ve learned to catch the shots on net (i.e., on my child) from the corners of my eyes.  Doing so is a bit risky because you can’t admit that you missed the phenomenal save but the crushing disappointment of the goal is too difficult to endure.  This highly developed sense of vision comes in handy elsewhere in life as I effectively deny my daughter a cookie with the same eagle side eye I watch her denying her on-ice opponents.

This I know:  a goalie mom only pretends to have patience.  I am fully capable of projecting a false pretence of it.  The energy expended to exude patience and calm during a game gives way to a noticeable void of same said virtue elsewhere in my life.  The game, which has seen my blood pressure elevated to dangerous levels then plummet back to normal (normal?), has ended and the casual request for sustenance (or Slushie) can make me snap quicker than an Zdeno Chara slapshot.

This I know:  goalie moms limit eye contact.  Of course I know it’s a team sport and a team loss is rarely the sole fault of the goal tender, but the mistakes of a goalie are laid bare for all to witness.  On the other hand, I know when it’s a good game, my goalies are the superstars!  Good or bad game, the goalie is first to be congratulated or consoled and this goalie mom has learned to find a quiet corner of my own to which retreat.  Thankfully, as a den mom on my daughter’s team, it’s easy to pre-occupy myself as Equipment Manager of the goalie than indulge in post-game analysis. 

This I know:  goalie equipment is really heavy and really cumbersome.  Most other parents use hockey as a tool for teaching responsibility.  “It’s your equipment, you take it in … you look after it”.  The boys can manage, but I just can’t bring myself to make my daughter lift a 40lb bag of gear with her 62lb body.  Heck, she still fits securely into one of the side pouches.  Instead of resembling the romanticized gladiator some NHL commercials suggest of player equipment, my newest little goalie looks more like Ralphie’s little brother in A Christmas Story after his mom has dressed him for the cold walk to school. 

This I know: a goalie’s reflexes are fast! The only one in the family who has ever broken a glass or dish is me. All 3 of my kids can catch it before it hits the floor!

Seems my oldest is now ready to hang up his goalie pads, a position for which he’s managed to grab his share of attention these past five years.  I wonder if wrinkles and grey hairs are proportional to amount of games I watch as a goalie mom.  If so, I am in luck… I’ll only have two goalies for the 2011-12 hockey season … plus one player.

About Astra
Ottawa mom of 3 poking fun at myself, motherhood, and minor hockey! I am steering through life dodging stinky hockey gear and empty wine bottles.
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