Anyone who reads this little ‘ol blog knows that our four sons play hockey. This year, my oldest two started playing in the city’s house league, and well… I’m not quite sure I knew what I was getting into.
It turns out that Hockey is not your average sport.
The boys had played football, which lasted about 3 1/2 months, and soccer, again about 2 1/2 months. Heck, they’d even done the weekend programs… but league hockey, well… it kind of consumes your soul. Jason was gone when they started, and we spent so much time at the rink that Princess Pumpkin was actually brought to us while there. Yeah, I see a lot of THIS in her future.
But anyway, the bigs handled West Point hockey camp last summer, so I kind of thought they were ready for league. Well…
Ehhh, maybe not.
The first day of practice was Septmeber 3, which was also the first day of school. Yes, you did the math right. Our kids have been practicing two times a week, often with another two days for games a week for almost 7 months. Like I said, it kind of consumes your soul.
So anyway, I take them to practice, and the boys are pumped. After all, they’ve seen the Mighty Ducks, and they’re like, yeah, we’re….
So they get dressed and hit the ice with their team. Well, the other kids are kind of like:
And I look over, and Captain America and The Hulk are kind of like:
And maybe a little bit of
Because these other kids have been playing together for YEARS, and this is really our boys’ first year of real play. I have to tell you, that first practice, when they had this shell-shocked look of:
Well, I asked them if they wanted to come back. They said yes, so we went. Their coach, God bless him, pulled me aside at that 2nd practice and told me, “I know they look bad now, but just give them time. By Christmas, you won’t recognize them.”
So okay, we gave it a shot. Now, let me talk about the moms. Going into hockey, the only thing I really knew about hockey moms was what I learned from the RNC:
So I can admit, I’m kind of expecting THIS to happen from the other moms:
But what did I get instead?
I just have to say that these other moms…. these women came into my life at the most hectic time I’d ever had. And whether or not they realize it, they saved me. They were and are my safe place away from Army bullsh… um… yeah. They are kind, smart, and willing to share what they’ve learned. They saw me at my worst and didn’t laugh, and instead gave me much-needed social time during FULL MEASURES edits. They were there when our Little Miss was delivered to practice, and they carried diaperbags for me when my arms were full. I have never known such an open-armed welcome, and they never made me, or our boys feel like we didn’t belong, even though we were the only newbies. I just really want them to know, well…
Now, back to the kids.
All season, all four boys have had their roles to play. There’s our little Hulk, who’s ready to bash just about anyone he can, penalties be damned.
And I mean, sure, we told him to get his aggression out on the ice, rather than turning it on his brothers, but well… when I see he’s on the penalty leader-board for the team, I’m kind of like:
Then there’s Captain America, who seriously, I kid you not – we cheer when he sends the puck the right direction. I know in the back of his mind, he’s really just wishing hockey was more like this:
And honestly? We’re okay with it. He doesn’t play hockey with the goal of the NHL or a college scholarship. He plays hockey to round himself out. And he’s so bent on not breaking the rules, that the first time he got a penalty (at the very end of the season), it was like his world just didn’t quite make sense.
Right, and I’m seeing this via phone, since I’m busy with the other kids and I’m all:
And Jason’s all:
Because his boy is… well… being a boy.
And meanwhile our Captain America is in there all worried that he’s offended someone, because… that’s who he is.
Let’s not forget the Littles, who when they’re not geared up for hockey, simply run amok causing all sorts of terror at the rink like:
And it’s been like this for seven months, people. Seven months of cold rinks, early mornings, hotel rooms, away games, smelly gear and well…. awesomeness. But the league season is finally at an end.
Two weekends ago, we went in Canada for the last tournament of the season. Earlier this year, our kids already brought home the division trophy, and first in their home tournament, but competing in Canada?
That’s kind of terrifying. I mean, come on, those kids grew up like this:
So we get permission to take Princess Pumpkin with us, which kind of worried us, since it’s… you know… leaving the country. But we get it, pack up the tribe and head north. And the funniest thing happens when we approach the border: I feel like I’m smuggling her, like I should look at border patrol and say:
In reality, we handed over her birth certificate, ad the letter from the State of NY saying we can take her, and they let us cross the border. Totally anti-climactic.
Off we go to Ottawa, which is GORGEOUS, by the way. We get ready to cross over into Quebec, and we pass by Parliament, to which the kids say, “WOW! MOM!!! It’s….”
Sorry to break your heart, boys, but no, it most certainly is not. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, well…
We get to the hotel with all five kiddos, I throw a minor hissy fit that they’ve screwed up our room reservations, which leaves the four boys in the room next door NOT connecting. So I recover from that, we get the kids upstairs, where we’re consuming nearly the entire floor with our hockey team. The kids, being kids, are a wee bit rambunctious after being cooped up in the car for 2 1/2 hours, and they’re doing what they do in every hotel… they’re playing knee hockey. We immediately get yelled at by the staff… you know, like they didn’t know they had booked two entire teams of hockey-playing kids here. And they’re telling us to keep all the kids confined to their rooms and quiet. In the middle of the day. And we’re all just like:
Right. Now remember, we fully expect them to get trounced here. Completely and totally walked over and spat out, because not only are we playing against the Canadians, but they moved us up to the A division when we’ve been playing at the B division all year.
And we get to that first game, and the other kids are HUGE. Like… HUGE, and all I can think is:
But they do, because apparently there’s some miracle-grow rocking the tap water in Ottawa, and these kids are legal… legal and HUGE. And my problem here is that I haven’t been a “hockey mom” for long enough. Oh no, when I look out there, I don’t see players and gear, I see an ice rink full of little kids like:
So anyway, then this miracle happens, and our boys win their first 7pm game.
But it’s revenge of the tournament in scheduling. We get the boys finally down around ten pm (remember the game ended at 8pm), and then well… we’re up at 5:30 a.m. to get them on the ice for a 7 a.m. game.
But somehow we get all five kids up and into the car. Well, it was more like…
And I’m realizing just how true THIS is:
The truth is, at this age, with these little kids, (Iron Man has been playing since he was three), it’s not even the kid’s desire that gets these kids to the rink. It’s the parent’s desire to make our kids happy that has us up, watching the sunrise from the car, with sleepy kids, hot coffee, and bags of gear.
But I digress. Jason doesn’t exactly travel well, which means there’s a lot of, “yes, honey, I know,” going on. But we make it, and then they tie, and tie again, holding their own against the massive skills of these other kids, and they make it to the semifinals the next day.
The funny thing about tournaments? Once the kids are all in bed, the parents turn into a bunch of college-aged frat partiers.
Except there’s no boat. Or sun. Because… we’re in Canada, and our kids are asleep up and down the hallway (in their rooms), and there’s really no dancing. Just… well… alcohol.
Of course, I go to bed relatively early because:
So the next morning we’re up at 5:30 a.m. for another early ice slot, except it’s also spring forward for daylights savings, so now it’s actually 4:30 a.m. Which means the kids are zombies and the parents basically look like:
But we get there, and they play. And MAN do they play. And our goalie is out there like a champ:
Get it? Okay, no one get their panties in a wad, this .gif is on here for Jason. Because he wanted a shirt like this that says, “Jesus Saves,” and I vetoed. So now he gets a .gif. 😉
And they WIN. Our kids WIN!!!!
So we do the tournament thing, which is check out of the hotel (where I accidentally leave my beloved running shoes. No worry, they made their way home thanks to UPS), and distract the kids for a couple hours while we wait for the next game.
Princess Pumpkin picked out some light reading while we were at the Chidlren’s museum. Maybe it’s the bright colors? Nawh, I think she’s just ready for her first pair of skates.
So we head back, and compete in the finals. The finals! We’re so proud of these little guys, they’re not only holding their own against what we have seen to be FIERCE competition, they’re WINNING.
So proud of them!!!
And then… it happens… Our little kids WIN. THEY WON!!!! The only American team there, and they bring home the Gold!
And just like that, it’s over, and it’s bittersweet. On one hand, I’m ready for just a little bit of spare time, of not spending 4 days a week or more for hockey. But these other parents have become my friends, and this team our surrogate family.
Why has hockey become so important to us? Well, read up. 4 days a week. I spend more time with these people than I do my “normal” friends. And it’s not army. No. You know what? Our lives don’t always revolve around Jason’s uniform. This one is for our kids, and THEIR uniform. And it has been worth it. Worth it to step out of our little Army world and find another family.
So, the season is over. Kind of. We took this one week off from pratices, but spring league starts next week. Then there’s camps, clinics, and prep… because it may be slower now, but it really means that there’s only five months before it all begins again. Until then??? Well… I’ll be:
Here’s to hockey. And families. And the massive pile of stinky, smelly gear in my entry hall. And here’s to brothers, at least the ones in this house, because it will be a couple of years until their ages put them back on the same team. We have been blessed with not only the perfect season, but a phenomenal group of people we’re so lucky to get to call our hockey family.
We’ll catch ‘ya next year.