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.


Three years ago, learning to skate.

Teach your Sons to Cook

*** This was originally written as a Guest Blog post for ***

My son is only five, so he’s limited in how much help he can be in the kitchen.  But he’s often there beside us, as myself or my husband cook.  He passes ingredients.  He stands on his stool and chops peppers and cucumbers with his plastic knife.  He sprinkles in spices and seasoning.  He stirs, he pours, he grates.  But mostly, he learns.

He learns to be self-sufficient.  He learns what foods are healthy.  He learns to help out.  He learns that cooking is not a woman’s job, but rather, a person’s job.

I could’ve titled this post “Teach your Daughters to Cook” or “Teach your Kids to Cook”, but that wouldn’t have had the same effect, would it?  Despite living in a society with self-professed gender equality, many of us still quantify household chores in terms of “a woman’s work” and “a man’s work”.  Teach your sons to cook.  And to do the laundry.  And to clean.  Teach your daughters to do the yard work.  To take out the garbage.  To fix things.  Maybe I should’ve called it “Teach your Children to be Capable Adults”.  Don’t pigeon-hole them because of their gender.

I saw a Facebook post recently, from a mother asking other mothers if they “allow” their sons to play with pink toys.  I couldn’t believe my eyes (you may remember my views on things such as this from my “Yes, I Paint my Son’s Fingernails” post).  And then I saw someone post this response:


Perfect.  Teach your sons to cook.

Don’t Call her “Princess”

This is how defines ‘princess’:

  • 1)  A non-reigning female member of a royal family.
  • 2)  A female sovereign or monarch; queen.
  • 3)  The consort of a prince.
  • 4)  In Great Britain, a daughter or granddaughter (if the child of a son) of a king or queen.
  • 5)  A woman considered to have the qualities or characteristics of a princess.
Numbers 1-4 do not apply to my daughter.  Those points are easy to argue.  It’s #5 that has me concerned.

Yep, she’s cute.  And yep, she’s only 18 months old.  Perhaps I’m making a bigger deal out of this than needs to be made.  In fact, if I am being completely honest, I have called her “princess” on occasion myself.  However, we were at an indoor playplace one morning last week, and sweet little Casey toddled towards one of the dads playing with his children- the first words out of his mouth were “hi, princess”.  He didn’t choose to just say “hi”, “hello”, or even “hi sweetie”, which is what I call most toddlers I encounter.  He chose “princess”.  If she had been a boy, would he have chosen “prince”?  I doubt it.  I think he would’ve chosen “buddy”, or “bud”, or “big guy”.  “Buddy”, “bud”, and “big guy” all convey images of camaraderie, strength, and confidence.

Meanwhile, Google informs me that the “qualities and characteristics of a princess” include nobility, poise, dignity, listening attentively, controlling her emotions, selflessness, generosity, compassion, patience, and forgiveness.  And here’s the kicker: “A princess doesn’t compete with a prince.  Just the opposite, she builds him up”.  Wow.  Not exactly conveying camaraderie, strength, and confidence.  Girls are praised for their looks and boys are praised for their character.  It starts early, folks.  Are we teaching our daughters to be confident, self-assured, independent young women, or are we teaching them to find their prince and build him up?  I’m trying to raise my little girl to be a kind person, just as I’m trying to raise my little boy to be a kind person.  The stereotypical, gender-role, accepted-female-behaviour-versus-accepted-male-behaviour has got to stop.

The reality is, she will likely be told she’s cute many more times in her life than she’s told that she’s smart.  Or that she’s strong.  Or that she’s kind.  Her cuteness is the tip of the great big iceberg personality that lies beneath.

Like I said initially, perhaps I am reading into this too much.  Perhaps I am creating worry where no worry needs to be.  But, then again, perhaps it all starts with “princess”.

I love this kid!

I love this kid!