The things we let get away from us

November 23rd, 2011

I’ve been spending a lot of time in and around ice rinks lately: on the ice twice a week as a trainer, on the ice on weekends skating around with the boys, in the stands twice a week (or more) as a hockey-mom, and in the stands as a fan when the Big Boys play, and I’ve been thinking about the things we allow to get away from us. When we “grow up.” When we get busy. When we put other people’s needs – often our kids’ – first.

I grew up around hockey, we were a hockey family. My brother and I played (though I quit after a season and a half – back in the day being the only girl my age in the entire suburban league wasn’t so fun – my brother played on until he left for college); my dad was a coach and the president of the local hockey association; my mother was secretary or treasurer and sometimes both. When I was old enough, I worked as a time-keeper and kept statistics on goals for and against, minutes played, penalty minutes served. I grew up skating. Winter afternoons were spent at the local rink skating laps and giggling with my girlfriends under the lights. Hot chocolate in the warming house, watching the boys play pick-up hockey, skate-a-thons to raise money for the hockey club and threading a season pass through the laces of my skates. Always a season pass – growing up in the Chicago suburbs in the 70s, if you didn’t skate in the winters you didn’t see much of your friends, because for sure they all skated.

Slowly, in high school I guess, I started leaving it all behind. My brother went to college, so I didn’t tag along to his games anymore and I was busy trying to find my thing in high school – it couldn’t be hockey, high-school girls didn’t play hockey back then and anyway although I still skated I had given up on hockey. I went to college and found cycling and after I graduated – I don’t know, I just sort of forgot about hockey and skating. I forgot about it for a long time, until a few years ago when we put SB in the hockey school and slowly, slowly, I started skating again.

But it’s been this year, between SB practicing or playing matches three times a week and my getting on the ice as a trainer in the hockey school, that’s put me right back in the middle of Hockey World – I’m at rinks three or four times a week and I’m having a blast. Oh, I’ll grumble about the logistics of it all because really it’s quite something some weeks – I’ve already decided that we need to be one of those families with the family calendar with a column for each family member – and my carbon footprint is GINORMOUS, but I’m having a blast. I’m having a blast on the ice and I find I’m happier off it – I’ve got a Thing. A hobby (though technically it’s also a job), a place to be. A whole other life. It’s chaos sometimes, and I’m not a big fan of chaos and time-pressure, but I’m having a great time.

And I’m wondering why I let skating slip away from me for so many years, wondering why we allow ourselves to drop our little hobbies and interests along the way. All the years I was in Switzerland before the boys were born, I never went skating – why did it take the boys getting into hockey for me to get back on the ice? Every winter of my childhood was spent in and around ice-rinks and then, somehow, I stopped. Now I find myself in them again and I’m realizing how much I missed it.

Is there something you loved to do when you were younger that’s fallen by the wayside? I challenge you to remember it, and try it out again.

There’s something happening here

November 8th, 2011

Something is happening with my writing, something I’m afraid to look at too closely lest I scare it off. It’s as though I’ve changed gears – I spend less time circling around and around the subject, warming up with an hour of rambling before the poem finally takes off. It’s – smoother. I won’t say easier, because it’s not, but the work comes more readily. It’s like the half-wild cat my mother-in-law has courted these past two years to the point where it’s not afraid of her anymore. It’s still skittish and half-wild, but it doesn’t hide anymore. My poems – they are skittish and half-wild, but they don’t run off and hide anymore.

More than that I’m almost afraid to say. Things like this shouldn’t be examined too closely.

A day in the life

November 4th, 2011

Apparently, it doesn’t take much for me to go from being busy to feeling over-extended. Apparently, it takes about 4 hours a week. I very carefully chose the phrase “feeling over-extended” because I know I am not, in fact, over-extended; I am, however, a person who stumbles over transitions (please, do not try to talk to me about anything requiring a decision for the first ten minutes after I have walked in the door and for the love of god do not catch me in the driveway as I am stepping out of the car and try to talk to me about anything) and who needs a five-minute cushion – getting someplace in the nick of time stresses me out more than actually being late.

So the fall schedule of Small Boy’s Bambini hockey, the Boychen’s hockey school hockey, and my training at the hockey school has knocked me sideways far more than I ever would have guessed a four-hour a week job would. It’s not the four hours, so much as the craziness of those exact four hours.

Here, for example, is how Thursdays afternoons run around here: at 3:45 Small Boy and I need to leave for his Bambini hockey practice. It’s almost always possible for Boychen to stay with his grandparents, which is a relief because Small Boy and I drive to Hockey Rink 1 where he takes the ice at 4:45 for practice that runs to 6:10. At 5:00 I leave Small Boy at Hockey Rink 1 and drive to Hockey Rink 2, where I teach with the hockey school from 6:00 to 7:00. (Boychen doesn’t attend the Thursday session because it’s too late at night for him.) At some point between 6:00 and 6:30 I get a message from R confirming that he made it to Hockey Rink 1 and is taking Small Boy home. So far, R has always made it on time but we’ve worked out a Plan B for Small Boy to follow (basically go to the restaurant, order a plate of french fries and wait for Dada to show up) in the eventuality that he doesn’t get there on time. Which is totally going to happen one of these days.

About every other Saturday, Small Boy has a hockey game at Hockey Rink 3 or, heaven forbid in a whole other town, while Boychen and I have hockey school at Hockey Rink 1. Boychen and I go to hockey school, Small Boy and R go to the match, and when hockey school is over Boychen and I cut across town to catch the end of the match.

It’s kind of chaos; and now I understand why Fellow Hockey Family worked so hard to get their younger son into Bambinis with his older brother. Have any of you seen that Suburu commercial with the hockey mom to triplets? I laugh at the hockey mom of triplets, because her kids are all on the same team. Honey, I could do that in my sleep. The real challenge is having kids 3 years apart who will never end up on the same team and you have to be in two different places at the exact same time.

Once I’m there, though, and take a few deep breaths, and put on my skates and my trainer’s suit – yes, I have an Outfit – and get on the ice with the kids, it’s pretty good. In two weeks, Boy Who Can’t Even Stand On The Ice has been transformed into Boy Who Can Make It From One Side of the Rink to the Other. Last night, Boy Who Cried became Boy Who Played Pickup Hockey With Me. It’s good. I’m friendly with my fellow trainers and last night I had a drink with them after training. (Iced tea, because of all the driving.) Parents will wave me over and ask a question and I’ll tell you what: watching a kid let go of the supports and take four steps towards me, because I told him I knew he could do it, and because he believed me, is pretty awesome.

So life looks kind of like this right about now:

When’s March?