August was marked by much anxiety about sports. I googled, I asked friends online and IRL, I blogged, I tweeted, I wrung my hands in anxiety. To hockey or not to hockey, that was the compelling question.
Do you like how I just turned hockey into a verb? If ‘friend’ can be a verb, so can hockey. And we, as a family, have decided not to hockey. At least, not yet.
When I realized that I was projecting many of my own innermost anxieties about social acceptance and peers onto the situation, I realized I had lost all perspective and sought the opinions of others. (The irony does not escape me that even in this, I seek external approval for my actions and validation of my decisions. Don’t judge me.)
There were many factors that informed our decision to not hockey, and many voices. On the pro-hockey side there were those who shared their own childhood hockey experiences, those who loved being a hockey parent (see, if hockey can be an adjective as well as a noun, surely it can be a verb as well!) and those who saw hockey as a natural right of passage for their sons and daughters. On the con side, there were those who expressed reservations about the cost, the culture and the violence. Annie of PhD in Parenting wrote a post that helped me crystalize my own reservations – read it here, because it’s worth seeing the other side even if you’re a rabid athletic supporter.
I was so torn that I first registered and then a week later de-registered one son from our local minor league team. The money and the time commitment were just too great, and I couldn’t rationalize the benefit against the costs. When I told said boy that we had in the end decided it was best for our family that he not play hockey this year, he looked at me mildly with this thoughtful brown eyes, shrugged his shoulders and said, ‘Okay.’ For this I lost hours of sleep.
The absence of hockey gave us room for activities for two boys. One will join Beaver Scouts, something I find endlessly delightful. And, it’s around the corner on Thursday evenings instead of all over the eastern half of the province at wildly unpredictable times. The other was given a choice of activities, and he chose — be still my heart — guitar lessons.
There was more googling, more researching, more consultations. A school was chosen, a guitar was acquired, a teacher was hired, a time slot was secured. In the end, the total cost for the first year of lessons and the guitar may yet exceed the cost of the damn hockeying.
And you know what? I am happy with that. Moreso, I am delighted with this turn of events. We are artsy, musical people. (Well, Beloved and Papa Lou are musical. Me, not so much. Despite seven pathetic years of school band, I remain largely tone deaf and unencumbered by any sense of rhythm whatsoever.)
Here’s five reasons why guitar lessons trump hockey playing:
1. We do not risk growing out of this guitar in mid-season.
2. Guitar lessons do not take place at 6 am on a Saturday, or in damp, dank 12C arenas.
3. There is little to no risk of a concussion in guitar lessons.
4. Other parents do not yell angrily at your child during guitar lessons. (Although the jury is still admittedly out on whether we will yell angrily at our own children in the act of encouraging the practicing of said guitar lessons.)
5. Chicks dig guitar players.
We start our first lessons this week. I can barely wait!