It seems that when I go somewhere with Grandma and Grandpa in their hometown, we inevitably run into huge numbers of people who know them. We go out to dinner, someone stops them to chat. We’re at the mall, a parade of friends stop them to chat. We go to a movie, more chatting. It’s not like they live in a town of six people and two horses where everyone knows everyone. It’s just that everyone knows them. Which is great.
The most astonishing time was when they came to visit us here in Cincinnati. We all went to see a performance (I can’t remember what) and while we were waiting, someone stopped by to chat. With them. In my city. Ridiculous. Funny, but ridiculous.
Last night you were the one everyone knew. Fortunately, our wait for a table wasn’t more than about 20 minutes, because it seemed that everyone leaving the restaurant stopped by to say hello—to you. Once we were seated in a dark and hidden corner, we returned to anonymity. One of the families that stopped to chat (with all of us) was a hockey family from when you played in high school (lo, those many moons ago).
Which reminded me that I had written some advice about hockey, both for players and for parents. This is a reprint of what I said (published exactly 4 years ago), but it seems to me that my insights and advice are as brilliant and relevant as ever. As is my humility.
Hockey moms are tough. We sit in bitter cold arenas watching opposing teams try to damage our children. We invest in cars the size of Canada to lug equipment bigger than the child from rink to rink. We endure frostbite and penalty calls equally. Mostly, we say a silent prayer of thanks each time the child comes off the ice with most important bodily parts intact.
Here are my Top Ten Tips for Surviving Hockey Season as the parent of a player. With a special bonus Top Ten Hints for Surviving as a Player.
Top Ten Tips for Surviving Hockey Season For Parents
- Wear the same kinds of outfits as the guys who climb Kilimanjaro. Then bring a blankets (preferably one to sit on and one to cover your legs). Don’t forget the little chemical packets that warm up when you smack them.
- Invest in an industrial size bottle of Fabreeze. Better yet, make it a case. I thought soccer bags got a little ripe, but soccer bags have nothing on stinky boy hockey stuff.
- Find a portable hobby. What with the kid having to be there over an hour before the game starts and then the showering and packing up after the game, there is a fair amount of wait time. Do your waiting in the area outside the rink where it will only be very chilly rather than stupid cold. Bringing something to entertain yourself (and any small children you may have brought with you) goes a long way toward making the time more enjoyable.
- Hockey has often been defined as a fight in which an occasional game breaks out. Fortunately, it is not nearly as vicious in High School—except in the stands. Seriously? These are kids. Back off and enjoy the game.
- If you haven’t already learned it, figure out the best way to get from your rink to the Emergency room. Be nice to the doctors, as over the next few years you are likely to be there more than once. (Corollary: If you are there so often they know you by name, you might consider encouraging the kid to switch to a nice safe sport, like boxing.)
- Hockey rink food is pretty bad. And generally all you can say for the coffee is that it is more or less hot. Plan accordingly.
- Many High School hockey teams have a variety of players. Don’t say “But you’re a GIRL!” when you meet Chris the Goalie.
- Turns out, much to my surprise, that referees are human too. They make mistakes. Shouldn’t happen, but it does. Disparaging their eyesight or casting aspersions on their ancestry is annoying, rude, and teaches our kids the wrong things. Kindly remember that there are siblings in the stands.
- Cheering for your team is good. Booing the opponents is bad. Cow bells are fine. Fog horns should earn you a one-way ticket to the penalty box (these are not professional size arenas, folks!).
- The most difficult position in hockey is MotherOfTheGoalie and she might be sitting near you. Try to remember that if the puck gets to the net, someone else on the team either didn’t do their job or got beaten. Phrases like, “Oh, come ON, you gotta get those!” are neither useful nor informative. Guaranteed the goalie did not let the puck in on purpose.
Top Ten Tips for Surviving Hockey Season: Reminders For Players
- Looking at the latest in NHL level equipment is not a substitute for getting your homework done.
- The front hallway is not an acceptable storage area for hockey equipment. And stacking your equipment neatly so that it conveniently blocks the front door is not helpful.
- I bought you a case of Fabreeze. Please use at least some of it.
- Watching an NHL hockey game on tv is not—under any circumstances—“studying.”
- Your sister has gone to all of your hockey games. Yes, you have to go to her dance recital.
- I don’t care how big you are or how effective you are on the ice rink. I’m still your mother, and I make the rules.
- Hockey pucks do not belong in the house. Especially when there is a hockey stick in your hand. No amount of “I promise I won’t hit anything!” changes this rule. Just as no amount of “I didn’t mean to” will repair Great Aunt Sophie’s vase.
- “I have to re-tape my stick” is not a reasonable excuse for not doing school work. Nor is it a reason for us to invest in enough tape to mummify the entire western hemisphere. Sorry, extra tape is on your own dime.
- We are only half-way through the season and so far this sport has cost us the equivalent of the national debt of a medium-sized nation. Try to act grateful occasionally. Or at least not sullen.
- The floor, the chair, the banister, inside your hockey bag—NONE of these are considered appropriate places for your wet towel.
Addendum: While there is nothing quite as wonderful as watching your child play a sport (any sport), there is something to be said for watching sporting events from the comfort of a warm home and a comfy couch. With good snacks. And clean rest rooms.
Today we’re on the road taking you back to college. Still have mixed feelings about that.
Enjoy the hockey (from the bleacher seats), enjoy your friends, learn lots, and be good.