Friday, September 28, 2012

I'm about to become a hockey dad.

I'm about to become a hockey dad.  I'm pretty nervous.  I have received the e-mail for a pre-season practice on Saturday.  Judging by the e-mail list of parents and the last names, my son will be one of the visible minorities on the team.  Not to mention the fact that he is 5 years old turning 6 in a month, and just started skating this year.  It's amazing that so much has changed in (ahem) thirty-ish years and yet some things haven't really.  

When I was 7 years old, I wanted to play hockey pretty badly.  When you're a kid life is about play, school, and friends.  I begged my parents to let me play.  I had no idea how much it cost and what was involved.  For my birthday all I wanted was hockey equipment.  At the time we were living in Edmonton.  My father would walk me to one of the four outdoor rinks in our neighbourhood.  He would sit in the freezing cold shed and put my skates on and then he would get on the ice with me and be my goalie.  Imagine, a thirty-something Filipino father who immigrated to Canada standing in the freezing cold on ice playing goalie for his son. Oh the things you do for your kids.

I found out later in my twenties that while we were living in Edmonton my mom and dad were having a rough go of it.  My father didn't have a job for about a year and my mom had almost died while giving birth to my little brother.  My request to play hockey must have been the furthest thing from their minds.  Except that I bet that it wasn't.  On my 7th birthday my parents, who must have been struggling but never really let that show to us, gave me a pair of hockey gloves.  It was all they could afford.  I loved them.  They were black with red and white fingers.  I put them on and  played in the living room with my Northlands stick and a tennis ball.  I used my little brother's empty Pampers box as a net.  It was about two feet tall and a foot wide.  The flap would open in the front of the box.  I would shoot wristers into that box for hours.

Fast forward 30 years.  We were able to get some equipment for our son second hand.  I have to go out and get a neck guard, mouth guard, some elbow pads, a water bottle, and a couple of sticks today.  First practice tomorrow morning.  I'm about to become a hockey dad.