It’s Friday night and I’m at the hockey arena. It’s no big deal. Since becoming a hockey mom fourteen years ago, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been to a hockey arena on a Friday night! What can I say? I have an impressive social life.
Only this time, I’m not here with one of my three kids; I’m here with one of my friend’s kids. Again, because of my impressive social life, I need to be at a hockey arena on a Friday evening.
This boy’s parents, our friends and neighbours, are off to a family wedding at an adults-only resort in the Dominican Republic and being fourteen, he’s too young to join them. I think he could have passed for an eighteen year old, but whatever. I don’t even think there was a wedding, but whatever.
Thursday evening, my friend drops off her son for his 10-day retreat Chez Astra with $50 and a list of his weekly activities. I tell her “Hey, not to be rude or anything, but I don’t think this is going to cover my weekly LCBO purchases” and she doesn’t think this is funny.*
At first it looks like I might get out of the Friday night hockey carpool gig because I have company coming to visit . Then my guests decline and I mention this at dinner Thursday evening.
“Oh! So you can take me to hockey then?”
Quick. Think of something.
Only nothing comes to mind, and I concede: looks like I’m spending Friday night at the hockey arena.
After a 30-minute drive during which any question I asked was responded by him pulling his ear plug out and asking, “Excuse me?” I should know better; I drop all efforts to converse. I leave him at the front door of the arena and tell him, “I have a few errands to run (like running to the LCBO) but I’ll be here to watch the last twenty minutes” and off he goes.
This hockey arena has four ice pads and I forgot to ask him which surface he was playing on. I quickly size up the place: Pad 1 has girls on it – moving on. Pad 2 has little tykes on I,t so I move on again. Pads 3 and 4 both look like they’re hosting groups of 14 year olds. I spend a few minutes checking out the teams on Pad 3 but I don’t see our underage, unemployed free loader. I move over to Pad 4 and see him chasing the puck down the ice.
I flash my best fake yeah-thumbs-up in his general direction, mostly because I sure as hell don’t want to have spent a Friday night at the hockey arena without him noticing my efforts! The game appears to end in a 2-2 tie, and I retreat to the foyer to await his return from the dressing room. I then run into another hockey mom I know from my daughter’s hockey team last season. After some chit-chat, she asks what team Emily is playing on tonight – because it would be normal for me to be here with my own child. I tell her that I’m here with a friend’s son and am just waiting for him to change, gesturing in the direction of Pad 4.
All of a sudden, my friend’s son comes up behind me and says, “Hey, I’m ready to go!” I wheel around and ask, “Where did you come from?” “My game. Over there” gesturing to Pad 3.
“You weren’t playing on Pad 4?”
“Oh. I see. So. You were not the one I gave a thumbs up to?”
Thank God I didn’t bang on the glass.
“Did you even watch my game?”
“No. I was watching the game on pad 4.”
“Who was playing on Pad 4” he asks, and it’s not a bad question.
“I thought you were.”
So, not only did I take a child not my own to a hockey game, I watch almost an entire game of complete strangers. Loserdom has my name on it.
“Let’s keep this between the two of us, okay?” I implore to him.
“Sure” he says. “Just like you’re going to keep the two chocolate bars before dinner between the two of us too, right?”
It’s a deal.
*Truth be told, she also dropped off all his lunches, and two or three meals for our entire family (which had just grown to six people) but whatever – it’s my story.