He shoots. He scores.
Well, he didn’t actually. Shoot or score. In fact, he had the curve of his stick turned the wrong way for most of the game, but I didn’t care.
He was out there. On the ice. The littlest grandson.
And it was his first hockey game of the year.
His big brother, Ben was one of the referees in the game, which made it even more special for me, the grandma, sitting in the stands feasting my eyes on the eye candy of two of my grandchildren on the ice at a good, old hockey game.
“He doesn’t love it,” his mom confessed to me later over coffee and one of those pumpkin spice muffins from Tim Horton’s that are too good not be hugely fattening. I ate mine with relish, anyway, compartmentalizing my mind to put calorie counting in another compartment. “He didn’t want to get up, get dressed and get down there to the arena in time for the game. It was a struggle.”
I thought about her words later, driving home through a few haphazard snowflakes that hit my windshield softly, teasing and flaunting their existence as if to remind me that winter was on its way.
“I’m so proud of that kid,” I thought to myself. “I don’t care if he did have his stick turned the wrong way. I don’t care if he never even touched the puck.”
But seriously, it is a difficult choice parents have to make, isn’t it?
What if your child does not follow tradition and really doesn’t love hockey? What do you do? Do you keep him or her in it because dad wants him to be there, or grandma loves to go to the games?
In my family of origin, I have to admit that excelling in sports, namely hockey and ball was considered to be handed the golden key to happiness.
And if you failed to excel in either of those sports, you didn’t quit. You just kept trying to get better.
Later on, that day, actually it was after 5 o’clock somewhere, I had a drink with my neighbour to discuss that very issue.
“Well,” she said, “taking a swallow of her Keystone Light. “I know of a kid that doesn’t really like hockey but is on the A-team. He says he just plays because that’s what his dad wants him to do.”
“Oh, yes. Parental approval. When does needing it ever stop?”
I think about the hockey game I watched earlier that morning. Lately, I’ve been feeling kind of flat about life in general. You know, the same old stuff to deal with every day except that every day you are one day older. How depressing is that?
But, this morning, I had a purpose.
And that purpose was, without a doubt, to attend the littlest grandson’s very first hockey game. I wasn’t going to miss it.
My daughter was in charge of the time clock and the music, so I sidled in right beside her. I love it when that blast of music happens whether it’s after a goal or a penalty or a face-off or whatever. It’s like being at an NHL game.
Of course, as luck would have it, she couldn’t get the music to work until there was about three minutes left in the game.
But, still, I was happy.
I had two grandsons out there on the ice and one thing I knew for sure.
I was right where I belonged.
Unfortunately, I’m not sure if the littlest grandson was quite as sure that he was right where he belonged.
And, if it should come to be that he decides that the great game of hockey is not for him, I will accept that decision with the grace and dignity befitting a grandma such as myself.
At least, I hope I will.
I might not. I’m only human, you know!
Treena Mielke is a Central Alberta writer. She lives in Sylvan Lake with her family.