Use Your Words - Cherries and mandarins vs Gerrymandering

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once, and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now. My words are:

grabbed ~ imbued ~ gerrymandered ~ gifted ~ delight

They were submitted by: On the Border - Thank you, Dianne!

First of all I have to admit that I have never seen the word gerrymandering in writing - I always thought it was spelled cherrymandering, as in cherry picking ;-) 

That being said, my then 12 yo son explained this phenomenon to me over a year ago when his interest in all things election and politics in general was sparked. 

Second of all, please note that I've already used all of my words, so now I'm free to write about whatever is on my mind.

And there's a lot cluttering my mind. 

For the first time ever, Colin's hockey club made an effort to get organized early in the season. Instead of scheduling practice month to month, they published the training plan for the entire quarter, which made the planning of our day jobs, school and appointments so much easier. Provided that the dates and times remain unchanged, of course.

Everything was going really well all through October and November. I noticed the three weeks leading up to Christmas were looking very light. I did not mind at all. Things are going back to normal, I thought. Our loyal sponsors rent out the arena for their holiday parties again, good for them. 

Good for us, too. I went ahead and made plans. Committed to visit customers on my days off, made hair and dental appointments for Colin, mentally booked trips to Christmas markets and to meet the Harley Santas and the Coca-Cola Truck, you get the picture. 

However, the hockey stadium wasn't kept free for the sponsors. It was for the World University Games that were supposed to be taking place in Switzerland. 

However, due to the developments in the pandemic and related incoming travel restrictions, it was - you guessed correctly - canceled.

And boom - upon launching "My Ice Hockey", that's our App holding all the dates for practice and games, I was looking at the calendar in disbelief. 

It was full!!! 

Without so much as a push notification that says "check your calendar, additional dates were published" or any other warning. 

And it showed there was practice tonight! (Monday) 

Wait, what? Wednesday as well? Colin was supposed to have his hair cut. A much needed appointment, too! Also, the weather app predicted snow. The husband needed his car for his *mandarin tour. I'm not risking another incident with my rear-wheel drive. 

Oh, and December 23rd? Really? That's when Colin's school's Holiday tournament takes place (if stuff doesn't get canceled by then). They were looking forward to it and designed, ordered (and paid for) special jerseys for it.

Talk about being stressed-out. 

Can't you just excuse him from practice?

I might, but I'd hate to. 

Unlike some other parents, who lightly (and inconsiderately short-term) cancel their kids' practice because they are not up for it or would rather (insert fun teenage activity), I take this commitment seriously. 

I'm fed up with some people's flaky behavior in general. Not RSVP-ing (not even "I can't make it") or signing up and not showing up at all, or dropping the ball at the last minute, claiming life happens - what's wrong with people? Show a little respect for those who organize whatever the event or program is. They prepare for it, raise funds, sacrifice their spare time, and offer valuable activities.

In February 2017, after four years of hockey school, Colin got accepted to the team, and we were delighted and imbued with pride.

Sometimes I think back to this moment. One of his buddies didn't make it. He left and found another club where he still plays today, and sometimes they see each other when they are opponent teams. 

One of the kids - he was very gifted as in skilled - was picked two years in a row. 

However, both times his Mom said no. 

"I can't drive him three or four times a week, sorry." 

I felt bad for both of them. 

Just like any other boy, he was dreaming of becoming a hockey star.

The Mom supported her son's passion within her means. 

Hockey school takes place about a dozen Wednesdays between late October and late February for kids between four and eight years old. 

Once a week sounds very doable, but don't be fooled. You can't just drop your kid and go shopping. You have to accompany him to the dressing room and help him put on his gear.

Then you have to sit at the boards, cheer him on, take pictures and encourage him from afar in case he falls, gets cold or thirsty.... Only to be ready to receive him after 45 minutes and help to take off the wet and smelly equipment, feed him and take him home.

So she was already sacrificing a lot of her time. 

If your kid doesn't make the youth team by age eight, there's nowhere to go from there. 

I never saw that kid and his Mom again until two years ago. I was coming back from the city and parked my car near the arena. Yes, once the kids are part of the team, there are Moms assigned to locker room duty. They will dress a bunch of kids and tie their skates' laces while the other Moms get to go shopping. Or grab coffee. Or blog. Or all of the above.

More freedom. There's only the drive and the laundry three or four times a week. And the planning of your day job around the training schedule. Oh, and you need to man the food stand at home games, pack lunch for away games, have the match cuffs shortened, raise funds for junior sports, and, and, and... 

Anyway, I saw this Mom with her son. He was wearing some fan gear, and it made me choke up.  

So he was still committed to the team in his own way. 

Long story short. What's my point? 

Colin was lucky to get accepted and to have parents who allow him to continue year after year. 

The equipment needs to be replaced almost every year, not only due to his growing out of it, but also it's pretty worn out after an intense season. It takes employers who grant flexible working hours, so you can leave early and drive your player to practice (this is true for parents and volunteer coaches as well). It takes schools who allow their student athlete to leave early. 

In short: it takes a lot of people working together to make this happen. If I can help it, I don't want to be the weakest link.

And yet, this one time, I dared to excuse him. I took a snow day. Literally. The snowfall ended up being not that bad as I had feared, but I figured better be safe than sorry. Gave us a nice little break.

I hope they won't punish him by not considering him for the lineup. He has been lucky to play every single game so far, while others are regularly being benched, or rather left at home. I like to think that his attendance record and his performance on and off the ice are the reason for it.

See for yourself though. he's the one scoring at the shootout:

If they won 7:3, why is there a shootout, you may ask? 

Switzerland wins one point more in every international tournament thanks to better efficiency in penalty shootouts. 15% of Swiss championship games are decided in a shootout. That's why the Swiss Ice Hockey Federation figured you have to get them into the habit while they are young, and a practice penalty shootout will be held before each game.

So far this season, the result of the shootout actually decided one game in favor of Colin's team. 

Sorry about all the hockey talk. 

There's one more question before we wrap it up:

*Mandarin what? 

Mandarin, tangerine, orange citrus fruit, crates of, distributed by our office every year throughout the month of December. Customers love the visit and the vitamins.

Speaking of... I discovered this tangerine muffin recipe that I want to try one of these days - if there's no practice, no work, no dental or hair appointment, that is... Wish me luck.

How are you coping this December? Enjoying the festivities or rushing around like a headless chicken? 

Let me know below, and please don't leave before checking out my blogger friends' posts:   



  1. Now I'm wondering if you ever got my response to that email you sent.
    I understand a parent's commitment to helping their children chase their dreams, I don't understand a parent's refusal to try, unless they just cannot do it. You've worked hard to make it work for Colin, and it's something I know he'll always remember.

  2. We in the States know a lot about gerrymandering and it is one of the reasons we really have to pass the voting rights acts now in congress. I shudder to think what will happen if we don't. I may have to move to Switzerland :) Hockey moms are a lot like little league moms. Mine was on baseball teams from pre-school to 8th grade. He stopped when he went to high school. We don't have to go in the locker rooms to help them dress though, thank goodness.
    Janet’s Smiles

  3. Gerrymandering is not something I have heard of till now...........

  4. Wow! There is way more involved to being a hockey mom than I ever imagined. You have such a rugged schedule, and your attitude is exemplary. People should honour their commitments, but you certainly deserved that snow day. Gerrymandering is a term I've only ever heard in relation to American politics. That's a whole other subject. Ugh!

  5. Man that is ALOT! I honestly don't know how you do it. I raised three kids and a bonus kid and I don't think I had that much responsibility! I live in the South so hockey isn't a thing here, but I've always said if I was going to go to a professional sports game it would have to be hockey. I had no idea that hockey players started as young (I remember when he was playing as a very little guy!) and actually had a "school" for it. That's terrific. You deserve a massive reward for all you do!


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