This year Colin got "promoted" from once a week Hockey School to the National Leagues' Piccolo program for 9 and 10 year olds, meaning
- Summer Training three times a week: endurance, strength, skills
- Summer Camp the last week of July (including our National Holiday on August 1st)
- Winter Practice three times a week: on ice and off ice training
- Games and Tournaments on weekends
With that come some Joys and Pains for this part-time working Hockey Mom, and even for Colin himself:
Let's start with the pains so we can conclude the post with the positive aspects:
- Each practice means a commute of 45 - 60 minutes depending on traffic. That's one way. We need to get home, too. Now that it's winter, driving back in the dark is bad. Add to that rain or snow and icy roads.
- Preparing or purchasing of snacks and dinner on the go.
- Three practices (in addition to school gym) means laundry. Lots of.
- (Un)packing of the entire equipment: Helmet, neck guard, chest / shoulder pads, elbow pads, jockstrap, hockey pants, shin guards, socks, skates, gloves, jersey, stick! Towel, shower gel, t-shirt, sweat suit, hat, new change of clothes. Don't forget the water bottle!
- With school, hockey, daycare and boyscouts Colin barely has opportunity to see his friends to just play.
- Homework upon arriving at home as late as 7:30pm
- Getting up early on weekends for tournaments. The worst so far has been 4:45am!
- Money. hockey equipment doesn't come cheap, we need doubles, plus these darn kids keep growing out of their skates and gear. Plus all the trips to the gas station and Starbucks are adding up!
- Planning, organizing and communicating by the people responsible: usually practices are more or less fix and being posted on the website on the last week of a month for the upcoming month. Meaning of course you won't know the days and times for December until very late in November - how is a part-time working Hockey Mom supposed to plan a visit to the Coca-Cola truck for example?
- Weekend planning is hard, too: line ups for the upcoming weekend games are posted on Monday. There is no pattern, and you can't gamble. You can of course opt out if you have other plans, but the games are what practice is all about, and the boys live for the games!
- "More or less fix" always leaves the possibility to change days and times on short notice. Again, a freaking pain for busy people who have jobs and more children to drop and pick up.
- So while recurring, routine events are manageable with some flexibility, one-time things have been causing some chaos and stress. Let's take the piccolo event, announced with a save the date in summer. So far, so good. It took place on November 1st which in his catholic hockey town is a day off. Not the case where we live, so I didn't know if I had to ask for the morning off at school until it turned out that he needed to be at the arena at 1pm. School, lunch, car. Pick up was announced to be between 7 - 7:30pm, we'll let you know via WhatsApp chat. I wasn't going to hang out in the city (where everything was closed due to the public holiday) so I drove home, got some sh** done, made dinner, hubby didn't read his texts that told him he needed to get his a** home if he wanted to eat with me (maybe he just didn't feel like having dinner with his wife?) so when he came home shortly after 6, I was loading the dishwasher and putting on my shoes. "What's the rush? They didn't text yet?" "I'm not taking any chances, who knows if they're going to give far-away folks a heads-up, I am on my way to pick up Colin." I was just about to go out the door when he yelled after me "oh boy, now you're in trouble. He'll be ready to be picked up in 15 minutes!!!" In fact the text had just come in, they were wrapping up and wanted to get rid of the kids. F***!!! They were over an hour early! From the car I tried to call the hockey mom who has been the closest friend, and whose butt I saved one night by taking her boy home. It went straight to voice mail. I called her husband. He didn't answer his phone. I called another super lovely hockey mom who once told me she'd be happy to wait with Colin if I was ever going to be late. She picked up immediately: "Did you just get the message?" "Yeah, and I am furious!!!""I bet. Nigel (her husband) is on his way to pick up Henry, do you want me to ask him to get Colin, too?" "YES, PLEASE!!! Thank you so much!" Just as I was encountering some bad rush hour traffic jam (if pick-up had been within the announced time frame it would have slowed down by then), Nigel called me and handed Colin his phone so I could tell him it was OK to go home with his friend's Dad. What a relief! Now I could exhale and endure this bumper to bumper commute without worrying that a caretaker had to wait with my boy who would be the only kid left. At 7:20 I arrived at his friend's house. Phew! On the plus side I was organised enough to not only have phone numbers but also home addresses saved! Also we had been at this house just a couple of days ago to leave a Halloween treat in their mailbox because we weren't going to attend the extra practice on Tuesday that just happened to appear on the schedule. He usually practices Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Who the h*** schedules something for kids on Halloween night??? Even in Switzerland it should be common knowledge by now?
On to the joys now which of course at the end of the day outweigh the pains:
- Colin loves Hockey. He's been into hockey since he was two years old.
- We're all super happy that he made the team (after missing it last season and being bummed about it)
- Even if he can't have playdates with his usual friends at home, he has made friends with many of his hockey buddies.
- Monday practice collides with his last class which he got out of by applying for it with the principal. He loves being picked up at 3pm when his classmates still have to sit in class for another lesson.
- He's making remarkable progress, and with the small victories - he's been asked to do a couple of face-off's, plus he recently scored his first goal in a real game - his self-confidence is rising.
- Everything in life has come easy to him, he's doing super well in school, he's making friends easily, but hockey, especially the skating part, is hard for him - so I feel it's a good learning experience for life.
- The entire routine that comes with practice, being there on time, getting dressed, being part of a team, is teaching him lots in terms of self-management, discipline and team-work.
- Speaking of the locker room: it's off limits for us Hockey Moms. Designated caretakers (other Hockey Moms) are taking care of a bunch of boys, helping them with their gear, especially the skate laces,... Which has two benefits for me:
- One: I don't need a parking spot at the arena, which comes in super handy during fall fair, circus in town and other events, I just drop him off, unload his bag and stick and kiss him good-bye. Bonus points if I run into a certain staff member.
- Two: while parents are welcome to watch the practice, they are not expected to, so I get to run errands and / or sit at Starbucks and write.
- Coaching and Caretaking Staff are super nice people.
- Even though we have to get up and drive a lot of miles for those weekend tournaments and other events, we get compensated with scores, cheering and happy faces!
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