I was a reluctant hockey parent. When my son became obsessed, I thought his obsession would pass. When it didn’t, I tried bribery. When that didn’t work, I played the daddy’s little girl card and got my dad to pay for his first set of equipment. We all want what’s best for our kids, and we will go to the ends of the earth to give that to them, so since he wanted to play, I gave it my all, too. Got my level 1 coaching card to keep mites in line and chase pucks as an assistant coach, and when the kids’ skills got close to surpassing mine, I let the card lapse and switched to team manager, running the clock, keeping score, and running doors or the box.
I got caught up in as much of the craziness as I could afford and then some. Set the summer camp budget and usually blew it. Kiddo wanted the most expensive gloves in the store? I justified that. Three hundred dollar composite stick for a PeeWee? Did that, too. Even fellow hockey parents told me I was crazy, but I justified that because I only had one child, and they had multiple children, so I told myself we were spending the same amount of money. I was just spending it on one kid instead of three. I spend most of my waking hours working to pay for it to this day, and there have been times I have cut down to two meals a day for myself so I could afford it.
Since I’m not a dad whose hockey career ended in junior B, no one thinks I’m living vicariously through my kid, but I am. It’s just not in the way that you might think. I’ve got a couple of missed opportunities from my younger days, and I know now I didn’t take those opportunities out of fear. I gave up before I gave myself a chance, and I don’t want that for my son. I want him to face those fears head on, and keep going until it is literally impossible to go anymore. I don’t want him to be 30 or 40 or 50 and wonder what might have been. I want him to have tried every possible way to get there.
I want it to become a habit not to give up on his goals or himself. I don’t want setbacks to completely derail him, and I want him to realize that when other people are telling him he can’t do it, that is simply them projecting their own fears and insecurities onto him. I want him to know he is the one in complete charge of his life,and he doesn’t have to sit back and wait for things to just happen. He can make them happen.
I can’t get my missed opportunities back, but I can try my best to make sure my son misses as few as possible of his. If I’m being completely honest, besides pushing him because I believe in him, there’s also a part of me that wants him to succeed just because so many have told him he can’t. I do believe in him or I wouldn’t make the sacrifices I have made, but there is most definitely a part of me that would relish being able to shove that success in the faces of those who doubted him.