Parenting

Are you a hockey family?

Tracy's brood has joined the ranks of families with two kids playing the Great Canadian Game. Will they survive?

Anna (in white) and Avery at their first practice of the season.

I know we weren’t the only ones up before the sun this past weekend to take our girls to their first hockey practice of the season. But that didn’t make it suck any less. Dragging your kids out of bed (which I never, ever have to do under normal circumstances), shoving food into their mouths and loading them up with equipment to go out into the single-digit temps and then the cold arena… Yes. Fun stuff.
 
I know I should be more excited. We set the tone, right? And I was trying, especially because Anna and Avery weren’t overly enthusiastic about starting hockey this year and I want them to go out and enjoy it. Anna is starting her third season and Avery her first, and we have been trying to pump them up about this season, especially because they’ll be on the same team for the first and last time. Here’s what we got in response:
 
Avery: “I don’t want to skate! I don’t like skating! I just want to watch!”
Anna [with a sigh]: “OK, but this is my last year of hockey. Ever.”
 
I hate to get all Canadiana on you, but our kids don’t seem to fit into that “We heart hockey” mould. So why do we have them in hockey? It’s a little complicated. I grew up in a hockey family. Both my sisters played and my dad has been involved in hockey on an organizational level for most of my life. Hockey is just what we do (even though I don’t). Sean also plays and is a huge fan of the sport, so it was just assumed that our girls would play, like all their cousins before them.
 
And, as is Anna’s nature, she always says she doesn’t want to play at the start of the season, but then enjoys playing every week (more or less, you know), so we don’t give in to her giving up. I also wasn’t surprised to have Avery reluctant in recent weeks, following her great enthusiasm for the idea of playing hockey last year. Today she seemed glum as we got ready (but it was 6:30 a.m.!) and was quite stoic in the dressing room before going out on the ice. “You’ll give me a kiss before I put my helmet on, right?” she asked us. Honestly, it seems to be a kiss of confidence that she needs, and she toddled out there and did a great job — and even said she had a good time afterwards.
 
They both said so. And that is why we keep doing it. I know I’m probably in the minority (or am I?). Most hockey moms and dads I know are pretty enthusiastic about their kids playing — and excelling — at the sport. They’re eager to see their budding hockey stars hone their skills and advance to rep teams, which puts them at the arena four or five times a week and has them travelling all over the place, giving up weekend plans for the Great Canadian Game. They love it. And their kids love it.
 
Maybe if our kids loved and lived for it, I would feel different. But for me, hockey is another activity we’re trying out — one I do hope they’ll stick with, but I won’t be devastated if they don’t (don’t tell my dad I said that!). It’s got so many positive elements — physical activity and skill building, as well as teaching sportsmanship and how to work together as a team. Hopefully it will motivate the girls to work hard and push themselves in many areas of their lives, and lead to lasting friendships. I want them to love something and do it with passion, but I’ve realized by this point that that may take a considerable amount of trial and error over the years to find that special thing. And I’m OK with that.
 
And I tell myself, it could be worse. They could be on the pageant circuit. Or I could have been one of those parents taking her children home from hockey practice when we were just arriving. Ouch.
 
Are you a hockey family? Do you love it, or just live with it? And if you have more than one child in the sport, or kids on rep teams, how to manage to have hockey and a life?