Hockey mom angst

by DaniGirl on August 24, 2011 · 21 comments

in Ah, me boys, Mothering without a licence

With three boys, it was inevitable that the hockey issue would come up sooner or later. The time I have long dreaded has arrived. One of the boys wants to play hockey.

I am totally torn about this. My Official Canadian Parenting Handbook says that any boy child must endure enjoy at least one season of playing hockey in his lifetime. My Official Lazy Parenting Handbook says that a hockey rink is a hell of a place to spend two perfectly good hours every week. My bank account shudders at the idea of $550 just in registration fees alone, to say nothing of gear. My husband thinks I’m insane for even considering it, and although is opposed in principal, will likely be swayed if I set my mind to it. My barely repressed rejected inner child thinks this is the key to popularity — or at least, of not being marginalized among his peers. My already insanely busy life has no room for up to an hour of traveling to various rinks throughout Eastern Ontario on game day, to say nothing of practices that may run any time from 6 am to 8 pm.

Most importantly, though, my boy asked for it. This is the boy who gamely endured two years of (expensive, lengthy) skating lessons and can still barely stand on the ice. The one who is already reasonably popular among his peers. The one who would rather sit on his hiney and play video games than do just about anything else.

24:365 Skates

I had no idea this choice — to register for hockey or to not register for hockey — would be so filled with angst. And that’s if you can even find the information you need to register. Thank goodness for this great post for rookie hockey parents from Kids in the Capital and a little handholding from a BTDT friend of mine, because you can’t find ANY other useful information online.

What I’m realizing is that really, it’s not even about the hockey. It’s about being part of the team, and the status that somehow infers on the rest of his life. I come from a place where I was the odd kid out, and still bear the scars today in an almost unreasonable anxiety that the same things may happen to my boys. Six hundred bucks and a couple dozen hours out of my year seem like a small price to pay to mitigate that possibility.

And then, my stubborn side kicks in and voices agreement with Beloved, who is vaguely resentful of the implication that you must join the giant hockey machine and fork out that ridiculous sum of money just to be part of some intangible club. I think of all those hours of lacing skates (OMG how I hate lacing skates) and lord knows I probably won’t escape without getting sucked into some infernal volunteer role with the club.

I wonder if he’s totally forgotten the tears, the cold, aching feet, the crazy rush through dinner to make it to the rink on time. I wonder if he, so like his mother, likes the idea of hockey more than he will enjoy actual hockey. I wonder if we’ll get as far as October and face a twice-weekly battle of wills, where I have to battle both my own inertia and his reluctance to play. I wonder if I’m overplaying the importance of this silly game in his peer culture. I wonder if I’m doing the other brother a disservice by not signing him up while I’m at it, which would be twice as awful all-around, unless I was wrong and it is that important.

249:365 Hockey skates

I dithered about this for a month, and finally found the right person to ask about registration for our league. To my relief, she promptly replied that the novice level is completely full for the season, so very sorry. I breathed a huge and regretful sigh of relief. The decision was no longer mine to make, it was out of my hands.

Until the e-mail she sent just now, saying they just had some spaces free up. Did I want to register my son now, before they disappeared again?

I honestly don’t know. Do I?

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Windex August 24, 2011 at 3:15 pm

We went through the reverse…my oldest daughter wanted out after we signed up…..
Just from what you wrote – I would sign him up if he has nothing else in the sport/team department. My daughter had soccer so we allowed her to drop the hockey for a different activity (secretly relieved because like you I found the time and money a bit much). But you also want your kids to have an outlet when they get older to help keep them busy and out of trouble even if they do not stay in the sport they will have learnt how to play and will feel comfortable playing pick-up or something.
As for the whining – maybe reminding him that he was the one that made the committed would help?????
Tough decision – took me a week to agree to the withdrawal

2 Laura S August 24, 2011 at 3:30 pm

I say go for it. When my son started three years ago at the age of 9 (his idea totally), I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about going to the rink. The hockey parent culture seemed so foreign to me. But a few months later it all grew on me and I looked forward to the weekly game. It was amazing to see how the kids progressed over a few, quick months. In the beginning (and this was Atom C level) they were practically falling over like dominoes. By March they could all skate well and do a few impressive plays. My son loved it. And aside from one overly zealous uncle who kept yelling “skate, skate!!!!!” every single game at his nephew, all the other parents seemed pretty cool. My son enjoyed the dressing room banter and getting to know new kids. I do believe house league hockey is a great experience. It’s all about the team effort, camaderie and trying one’s best. And it’s awesome to see the mile-wide smile on your kid’s face when they score. Give it a try for a season and see what you think. πŸ™‚

3 alison August 24, 2011 at 4:22 pm

You just may suprise yourself when you realise just how fun it can be! We hockey Moms are not all CRAZY! My son loves hockey and we are at the other end of the spectrum all in at the competitive level for hockey and my daughter is right into ringette, I really love watching them play and it becomes part of your social life, for the parents and kids, lots of fun on and off the ice, gice it a try, you just might like it!

4 Jody August 24, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Rushing and no time to read the comments, but to me, it sounds like no, you do not want to sign your son up for soccer. You just think you SHOULD sign him up for soccer.

How you resolve that, I have no idea. I dithered my way out of a couple of tough decisions that way, and haven’t yet had to revisit any decision made by choosing not to decide. Yet.

5 Jody August 24, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Argh. Talk about rushing. And Freudian slips. HOCKEY. It sounds like you really don’t want to sign him up for HOCKEY.

How I feel about daughter’s upcoming three-days-a-week at soccer you can just imagine.

6 DaniGirl August 24, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Ahhh, such good arguments on both sides of the fence. And Jody, despite the Freudian slip, you indeed spot on — I don’t want to but I feel like I should.

Wonder if there’s anything of cultural significance to be read into the fact that the four yays so far are Canadian moms and the lone nay is an American? LOL

7 Kerry August 24, 2011 at 5:47 pm

You totally know what I’m gonna say. Really, Dani? Really? Cause two jobs isn’t enough, you want to be a hockey mom, too? REALLY?

8 allison August 24, 2011 at 6:44 pm

My partner and I have discussed hockey at length, and agree that we would both prefer our son NOT play it. We feel like the fighting that’s encouraged in it takes away from the sport. Linked to that, the number of injuries befalling hockey-playing kids seems to be much greater than those of other sports. Not to mention the time and money associated with playing hockey! Of course, our son is only 7 months old, so things could change, but if we have any say in it he’ll be a swimmer or a cricket player. πŸ˜‰

9 Marianne August 24, 2011 at 9:05 pm

I’m anti-hockey. It’s expensive, dangerous, easily become competitive, and I don’t like the inherent aggression. While house league fun teams may be very co-operative, it leads into increasingly cometitive play as the kids get older. I think it’s just easier to say no. Hockey is definitely not the only way to get along socially. My husband and I have always been on the same page about this, and agree that one of the benefits of having 2 girls is that there’s less likely to be pressure to put them into hockey or some other competitive sport. Although we’re also agreed that it’s important to have the team experience, and will get our girls involved in the non-competitive comunity soccer when they’re old enough.

10 Steve August 25, 2011 at 6:52 am

I only have girls but hockey seems like a right of passage for boys and your right its about wearing the jersey on jersey day and saying your part of the team. Sadly, makes him cooler and more popular yes. Ultimately your call as a parent and as the person paying, biggest problem is you have 3 boys so can get very expensive and time consuming.

11 Mary V. August 25, 2011 at 8:38 am

I’ve struggled with the same thing – if my son doesn’t play hockey, is he missing out on connecting with all the classmates that DO play hockey? But I’m kind of discovering that while it seems everyone is playing hockey, they really aren’t. There are plenty of kids who pass on hockey and instead do tae kwon do, karate, music, Lego club, swimming, etc. But I’ll also admit that I’m secretly relieved my son has never asked to play hockey – phew!

12 alison August 25, 2011 at 11:32 am

My son and daughter have played both competitive and house league level sports including hockey….I think sports teach so many important life lessons and are really an excellent preperation for live in general. Not only do you build excellent life skills relationg to team work competition and hardwork you learn how to be gracious and humble in victory and how to handle a loss with your head held high. Competitive sports are not for every child but the life lessons that years of competitive swimming brought me have been invaluable and I am really enjoying those same attributes develop in my children…..I”m 46 and sitting at the airport waiting to pick up a very close friend and former team mate I have been friends with since age 9 when we both startyed swimming together.

13 Marianne August 25, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Alison makes some good points about sport above. But if you substituted the words “Girl Guides” for “sports” I could say the exact same thing about my own life experience. There’s a lot of value in sports, but as Mary V. says it’s not the only way to end up with a well-rounded child.

14 Mary August 25, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Yes, yes, yes sign him up – if only for one season!!- Our 32 year old still plays and coaches hockey- There were many long cold mornings at the arena- and the young ones end up playing the early games (cuz the older kids won’t get out of bed b/f 10 am !!!) but the thrill of seeking him learn to skate with his head held high (so he doesn’t get hit)- scoring his first goal- getting to the playoffs- and winning – or losing (both have benefits) to now going to games as the Coach’s mom–and seeing the pride he has in his little team is priceless!

15 Chantal August 25, 2011 at 2:39 pm

My oldest plays hockey. My middle wants to but we are delaying one more year (he would be initiation this year). I guess my take is if the wants to then you provide the opportunity. Maybe he’ll only do it for one year. Maybe he’ll love it. He’ll never know if you he doesn’t try. And he will be a wiz on skates by the end of the season for sure. Hockey makes them way stronger skaters than lessons alone.

16 Meg August 25, 2011 at 3:24 pm

My rule is if the kid really really really wants to do it – I will be the one to pay for it, get them there and cheer them on. Sometimes it only lasts one session (dance, judo, art class), other times it becomes a passion, (soccer, swimming!) they make new friends and the get fit in the process.

But they have to REALLY REALLY REALLY want to do the activity – I am not one to push them into an activity I want them to do. it.

17 Allison P. August 25, 2011 at 3:54 pm

God, you’d be a better woman than me if you did it.

18 Mary @ Parenthood August 25, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Curious to see what you decide. We decided before we had kids that no child of ours will play an organized sport unless it doesn’t interfere with other family priorities. From observation of friends and families, hockey tends to be all-consuming, with an expectation that if you sign up, you are committing to make it THE priority.

I’m not sure if there are consequences for missing games or what but folks we know have been late to or missed altogether special occasions (eg funeral, weddings, family reunions) because of “hockey”, and it usually sucks up a number of evenings per week, meaning that relationships outside of hockey become more difficult to maintain.

I doubt we’ll ever allow hockey because I’m not willing to do that.

19 Ingrid August 26, 2011 at 10:03 pm

I was not a fan of hockey, but my 3rd child REALLY wanted to play. I figured we could make it through 1 season; we are now entering season 4, and it has been quite enjoyable. I think the difference in time commitment is with house league; if you miss a game or practice ( or a few), it is not the end of the world. It was great to see the smiles and fun that the team had together. Some years it has been a winning team, other years a losing team, but there were many hours of fun and giggles, and some great new friends.

I say go for it – we even have some too-small equipment from Damian that we will donate.

20 Shan @ the fairy blogmother August 26, 2011 at 11:43 pm

I have two girls, so the hockey thing isn’t an issue. My husband worked at a hockey arena for years and he dreaded the thought of our kids playing hockey. You wouldn’t believe the things he’d seen and heard. It was not something we wanted to get involved in. Not painting all hockey folks with the same brush, he’s just really had his fill of the whole scene. Specifically in our small town. Our 9 year old went with riding lessons, we’re going on three years now and she loves it. The 5 year old hasn’t settled on anything yet, but to be honest organized sports isn’t really our thing. I’d rather take that time and have them spent it on creative pursuits (they are both in choir) and volunteering.

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