THE SEASON IS OVERMany of the citizens of the PUTP are letting out a sigh of relief knowing the hockey season is now over. "What are we going to do with our weekends now," is a comment that will be heard often over the next month or so. To say that weekends are dictated by the hockey schedule is no joke. Throughout the entire winter every Saturday and Sunday has hockey scheduled into it. Hockey is a big commitment. And sometimes, like this year, this commitment takes place at 6 in the morning.
There are many benefits to this time consuming / early morning schedule:
1) A reason to get up at 5:30 am in the middle of winter
2) A reason to get out of the house before the sun rises
3) A reason to get out of the house and get some fresh air and sunshine when you'd rather burrow down into the couch and eat chips
4) A reason to meet up with family and friends (when you'd rather burrow down in the couch with a bag of Doritos)
5) The most important reason is because Eli loves playing
Here is a video showing a few snippets of the season.
Although hockey does bring on a few challenges, the benefits far outway the costs. Many life lessons are learned at the rink - for both kids and parents.
For the player: Eli has not only learned physical skills like skating and shooting, but, more importantly he has learned some wonderful social skills. Being part of a team has made him more empathetic. He has had a chance to see that the world is made up of many people. The team can only succeed if they all work together. Eli has taken this attitude and run with it. He is constantly celebrating his teammates successes. The first comments when he hits the changeroom is about his team - "Mikey scored four goals today!" - while being humble about his skills - "Sure, I scored two, but, it was only because Alyson was so good on defense". This life skill, of seeing the big picture, is a tough lesson to learn, but, hockey (or any team sport) allows this to happen.
This year the season was loaded with dawn cracking early morning games. Eli quickly learned another important life lesson - planning ahead. The night before he would be the one getting out his clothes for the morning, he was the one questioning bed time (is 7 early enough?), and he was the one that requested getting up an hour earlier than required so he'd have time to wake up, and time to get mentally prepared. He learned a lot about himself with those early morning games, about how his mind and body work, and that he does not do well when rushed. And he was the one who found a solution to that by getting up earlier. Pretty impressive for a six (now seven) year old.
For the parent: Hockey is another time you have to let go of your child and allow them to explore the world by themselves. If you look around at the other hockey parents you will see a wide range of reaction to this loss of control. The extremes range from totally ignoring all that goes on to yelling instructions from the stands. It is tricky finding the ideal balance of being involved and letting your child discover the world of hockey for themselves.
If you are looking for some advice from a great hockey parent, or at least the parent of a great hockey player - check out Walter Gretzky's book. He is the father of The Great One - Wayne Gretzky. In his book he talks about how he approached hockey when his children were young. He gave the kids some general advice, but, he never told them what to do. He let them explore the game for themselves. Experimenting, trying new things, learning new skills - that's what keeps the game fun.
As a parent, hockey is one of those lesson in restraint. There are times you want to yell from the stands. There are times you want to push your little player because you know they can skate faster. There are times you want to correct them, tell them how you think they should be playing the game. It is easy to get caught up in the game. The game. That is the lesson here for us parents - it is only a game. In the grand scheme it doesn't matter if they win or lose. It doesn't really matter if they skated as fast as you thought they could. They are out there to learn a game, make friends, and just have fun. It is a tough exercise in restraint, but, one with great satisfaction when you find yourself sitting on the edge of your seat watching your little one try out that ridiculous move they invented in the backyard (the triple deke, kick the puck with your skate, do a twirl and slap shot it) and actually score with a goal with it. Then have their teammates crowd around high fiving them while they humbly try to give credit to their teammates great passing play. It is well worth the effort and the tired mornings.