Becoming a Hockey Parent
A few years ago, after moving to a relatively small town known for its hockey programs, my then 9 year old son looked at me with his big brown eyes and asked the question I had be dreading; “Mommy, can I play hockey?”
Today, I have three sons on the ice. This translates to us spending most of our free time in an arena or in the car, on the way to an arena. I have learned to recognize the moms and dads new to the hockey world by their frazzled faces and the utterly defeated look in their eyes as they try and dress their youngster while a sibling begs for their attention. I have been there, wishing that my cup of coffee was in fact, a cup of vodka.
So, here’s some advice to all the newbies out there, entering their very first hockey season.
Pack the hockey bag the night before. Double-check that all the equipment is there, including anything that could have been left in the laundry room! Pack healthy snacks and water, for your player, their siblings and yourself. We all know how hunger can negatively affect our children’s behaviour and our patience levels. Having food on hand will also avoid the need for a rushed stop or indulging in arena-quality cuisine (and prices!).
Having a sibling (or 2 or 3) in hand is possibly the most difficult aspect of being a hockey parent. To avoid siblings running free-range around an arena, make sure you have some distractions on hand. My trick; my kids’ designated tablet time is at the arena. This way, they see it as a treat and rarely move from their seats, allowing me to focus my attention on the ice.
Ignore gossip and politics
Any hockey parent will tell you, politics and gossip play a pivotal role in frustration levels. Even at the beginner levels, someone will always claim that his or her child was overlooked, team make-up is based on who-knows-who, this coach plays favourites, etc. Do not allow yourself, or your child, to be negatively affected by such behavior. Most organizations are run by volunteers, with only the best intentions.
Make hockey time a social outing for you as well. Most other hockey parents are eager to make friends and chat. Chances are you will have many things in common, including your secret wish for vodka!
In the end, when your son or daughter plays their very first game, scores their first goal, saves their first shot or simply looks at you with all the thanks in the world, it will be worth it – trust me. The tears welling in your eyes will be those of pride, not frustration.