Shoot the puck

My daughter is six years old, and for the past two Winters my husband has been her hockey coach.  She plays for a local girls hockey league, and this year she’s got one hour of practice and one hour of a half-ice game per week.  If there’s anything cuter than a pack of ponytailed Grade 1-ers chasing a puck, well then I’ve never seen it.  She’s been on skates since she could walk, like a true Canadian kid, and she’s well-versed in Hockey Night in Canada and the Leaf’s Stanley Cup drought.  With sport-obsessed parents, she’s come by it honestly.

The improvement in her skills from the start of the season, at only two hours of ice-time per week, are incredible.  She’s gone from wobbly and timid to confident and sure-footed.  She can put her gear on entirely by herself, except for skate laces and helmet snaps.  She can pull her hockey bag, carry her stick, and she can last the full hour of ice-time.  She’s a dependable, capable competitor.  And yet, we’re teaching her to pass the puck….

Let me explain.

In a recent hockey meeting that my husband attended, it was pointed out that as our girls are growing into hockey players, they are often taught to pass the puck to their teammates.  In amongst the skill-building, they’re being told to give everyone a turn, to share the puck around, to not leave anyone out.  All good things, yes.  However, this has led to older players scoring less, favouring the pass over the shot.  Now, I have a son in hockey too, and I attend most of his practices and games; I see that he too, is told to pass the puck.  But not as often.  And not in the same situations.

You see, these instructions are heard differently through the ears of a young girl.  These words are spoken within a society that teaches girls to be polite and kind and teaches boys to be forthright and determined.  And while I’m not going to delve deep into the gender equality conversation on this chilly Tuesday morning, this post is a snapshot of what’s been on my mind.  I’ve got Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” and Kirstine Stewart’s “Our Turn” on my bedside table and I’m fresh off a Mexican vacation where women in the workforce was a big topic of conversation.

So I hope that my words make you think.

This small example, using the metaphor of hockey as life, shows me that there’s still work to be done.

Let’s teach our girls to shoot the puck.

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Three years ago, learning to skate.


Ten.

My son turns ten years old today.  Ten.  A full decade, two whole hands, double digits.

How does this happen?  I think that time speeds up exponentially when you become a parent; that’s the only logical explanation as to why the last ten years have flown by so much more quickly than the ten before them.  Each stage of parenthood has been an adjustment, but a very gradual one, full of such small daily changes that they aren’t even noticed until you look back and realize they’ve occurred.  He still needs me, yes, but he needs me far differently than he did then.

I wrote a post when he turned five, and now five is a distant memory and we are on the road to the tweens.  I read over my original words again yesterday, and I cried at this part:

You are one half of my greatest accomplishment, my biggest treasure, my deepest emotion.  My everyday-moment-joy doubles when you smile and raises tenfold when you laugh.  I hurt when you hurt, and when you cry on the outside I cry on the inside.  Before we had you, I wasn’t even sure I wanted children, or had a maternal instinct inside of me.  You changed that, my love.  You showed me a side of myself that I didn’t know even existed, and a side of myself that now seems so intuitive, so fateful, so clear, so this-is-what-I-was-meant-to-do obvious.  

My biggest treasure, my deepest emotion.  All still true.

Happy birthday my sweet boy.

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91, each with a story.

My family got our Christmas tree on the weekend.  It’s a bit earlier than we usually do, as December is not yet upon us, but the kids were asking and we had a free weekend afternoon with mild weather, so we took full advantage.  We get a real tree, and we do as city-people do, and trek to one of the local rural Christmas tree farms for the full urban Instagram experience.  Gone are the days of my Albertan prairie childhood, when we would drive country roads and walk through waist-deep snow in search of “the one.”  The opening scene of Chevy Chase’s ‘Christmas Vacation’ comes to mind.  These days, my husband and I do our best to give our kids a new version of that experience, and it’s definitely a Christmas tradition that we all look forward to.

We borrowed my father-in-law’s saw, again part of the tradition, as my husband remembers his childhood Christmas trees being cut down with that particular saw.  I marvel at the changes in our children each year, and remember the early years of babies in carriers and blankets, sneaking in tree-cutting between naps and feeds, worried about the cold and the little legs that couldn’t hike very far.  Now our kids are involved in the whole process, from cutting to carrying, unloading to decorating.  My daughter’s choice of tree got the nod this year, a point of pride for her, and my son placed the star on top.  In fact, once we got it home and in the tree stand, the kids decorated the whole tree by themselves while my husband and I sat on the couch, acutely aware of the fact that we’re in the midst of a wonderful stage of parenting, sandwiched between the emotions of toddlers and the moods of teenagers.

We carefully unwrapped the ornaments from their newspaper homes and laid them on the coffee table one by one.  And as the table filled, we counted: 91, each with a story.

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Each year, I get a family photo made into an ornament.

Many come from my parents, as they give both of my children an ornament based upon their current interests- we’ve got everything from Thomas the Train to Elsa, Captain Phasma to Dora, Harry Potter to the Toronto BlueJays.  When my kids move out, they’ll take their ornaments with them and have a head start on filling a tree of their own.  Many come from my husband’s childhood, the most precious being a tiny stocking from the year he was born.  Some come from gifts from friends, some from Winter weddings, some from school crafts.  But consistently, year after year, the most magical part for me is not the ornaments themselves, but the stories they tell.

We’ve got 91 stories on display;  91 feelings of nostalgia, 91 tokens of gratitude, 91 memories of happiness, 91 reasons to give thanks.

Merry Christmas.

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