Rational people conjure normal images of the remaining dog-days of summer: the drying out of the flower pots and the front lawn, the innumerable roadside corn stands that have spring up, Perseids meteor shower and progressively diminishing daylight. I however, recognize that summer is coming to a hasty conclusion by the sudden incidence and increasing frequency of the hockey emails I receive: try-outs, conditioning camps, sort out skates, frantic pleas from friends for replacements for outgrown hockey equipment, etc. Such is the life of a veteran hockey mom. My summer’s end is not always “the most wonderful time of the year” marked with back-to-school shopping and pencil sharpening but hastened by hockey association executives eager to jump start the season the precursor of which ended but a few months ago.
Initiation and Novice parents (hockey parents with less than 4 seasons of minor hockey under their jockstraps), prepare with shiny new pint-sized hockey equipment, fully charged cameras and gleaming new travels mugs. Atom and Peewee parents look forward to their reconvening with a solid social network and recalibrated car pools. Bantam parents start the season thinking, “two more years and they can drive themselves to the arena”, while Midget parents let them!
Set to take to the ice in my 10th season as a hockey mom, my oldest is preparing for his Major Bantam year tryouts and my youngest for a year of Atom net minding. My pre-season training camp involves the customary flurry of hockey emails, the to-and-fro camps and conditioning sessions, reacquainting ourselves with the store layout at ProHockey Life and PlayItAgain Sports, renewed commitment to fitness regimes and, more recently, a small interest in modified eating habits focused somewhat on nutrition.
If the dream of an NHL career still exists in their impressionable young athletic minds and bodies, my kids articulate it less and less. They increasingly focus on their reunion with friends and coaches that their school networks may or may not encompass and set their sights on new competitions that league and tournament play elicit. I remain supported and committed in their hockey years, and am still a formidable fan out on the stands, yet I do lament my sudden end to summer.
Summer evaporated as quickly as a Slushy in the hands of a 7-year old.