One thing that really bugs me is when my friends and family ask me, “Why do let your kids play hockey? It’s so expensive!”
Heck yeah, it’s expensive. I have three kids who play on two hockey teams each. It costs a fortune. Now before you go off and judge me for my NHL aspiration, keep in mind they don’t exist. If I am anything, I am realistic.
But that doesn’t change my philosophy. My kids love hockey; I love watching them grow, so I pay the bill. Period. And, it’s none of your business what I spend on it anyway. Just buy what I sell come fundraising time, smile, and wish them good luck with their season.
If you are a hockey mom, you’ve read all those viral blog posts about how parents on these elite traveling sports teams feel that spending time with their kids on the road brings them closer, blah, blah, blah. The family time makes it all worth it.
Yeah right, sappy sentiments that tug at your heartstrings, and helps you justify the $8K you drop every year on this game. Right? I love all the reasons: they wouldn’t change the quality time they get, I am a snowflake, let’s sing kumbaya and hold hands, I love being a helicopter parent. It’s all crazy. But here’s my favorite.
The long car rides that give you quality time make the bill worth it? I don’t know about you, but a 7-hour car ride in the dead of winter during a blizzard is not worth it. Can the nonsense. The car rides to tournaments and games in the winter are horrible.
But, aside from the salt soaked roads, blizzard warnings, and black ice, I’ll get my kids to the rink and the tournaments, and you can keep your quality travel time. I am busting my buns for one reason and one reason only– life lessons.
Now if you want to get down to the real nitty-gritty of why I couldn’t care less about the prices. Here’s why.
There’s Always a Life Lesson
I guess you can say this for any sport, but there’s always a life lesson available. My kids learn that you need to work hard, and then and only then you get to play hard. And, you can hold your crackerjack responses that they can learn the same lessons doing chores. They can’t. Here’s why–hockey sharpens their minds and their bodies. The ability to problem solve presents itself, and kids are forced to think on their feet.
You can’t get that type of thinking in school today. Want to know how I know that? I am a teacher, and parents don’t allow you to challenge their kids. They whine and cry if Johnny’s feelings get hurt or if he’s set free to think on his own for 30 seconds. “You are not teaching him what to do.”
That’s right; I am teaching him that there will be times in life when Siri won’t have the answer. And he may just have to figure out how to do something on his own. The art of thinking on your feet is obsolete, and that’s scary to me.
Hockey gives my kids the opportunity to problem solve. “Do I dump the puck to the point to bring the defender away from the net, or do I try to force it in front? Do I shoot for the corner because the goalie is going down too soon, or do I attempt to pass it off his pad and have my line mate tap in the rebound?”
Keep in mind, a shift in hockey lasts about a minute, so kids are being forced to think like this on their feet in a matter of seconds. I can and will afford those types of opportunities.
You Can Be a Grown Up Responsibly
I don’t know about you, but raising three kids is hard. There’s rarely a minute for me, and when I travel with my kids playing hockey, there is some me time that exists. It may be late at night, and it may make me tired as heck the next morning when I have to get up and go to a 6 AM game in a town I am completely unfamiliar with, but nonetheless, it’s my time.
Opportunities to laugh and engage with other adults are a rarity at this stage of the game, and the fringe benefit of being a hockey mom is beers (or wine) late at night in the hotel when the kids are asleep.
Again, judge me, I don’t care. It’s the truth.
Hockey Teaches You When to Take a Hit and When to Hit
In today’s bully infested world, kids have no means of escape. Their digital presence makes them a target for mean kid who feels the need to compensate for whatever he’s missing in his life.
As a hockey mom, I believe in good old fashion playground justice. And, I think playing hockey gives my kids the guts to stand up for what is right. Sorry if this offends you (not really though), but life will sort out these kids who feel the need to pollute every social media stream they can with nasty things about other kids. And sadly, parents today don’t think it’s ok to punch a mean kid square in the nose.
Not me. How are we supposed to know if old-fashioned playground justice will put these kids hiding behind a screen in their place if we keep cluttering up the path to the flag pole with anti-bully programs that don’t work? I think that jades their ability on how to react to right or wrong. Someone else will handle the wrong, and kids can remain apathetic. I want my kids standing up for what is right. And, I think hockey helps to teach them that.
Here’s the perfect example of what I am talking about. John, my oldest, came home and said, “Mom, there’s this kid on my bus who keeps picking on this girl because she’s overweight.”
My first question, “Why didn’t you tell him to stop?”
His reply, “I did.”
I followed up with, “Why didn’t you threaten to punch him in the mouth if he didn’t?”
His response, “I didn’t know if you’d get mad.”
Again I followed up with, “What’s more important, me getting angry or a girl who most likely already feels bad about herself not feeling like shit every day when she gets on the bus?” (And, yes, I said shit to him because hockey moms swear—a lot.)
Puzzled he said, “If he does it again, I’ll threaten him, and if I need to, I’ll follow up with my threat.”
His face didn’t light up with a smile that said I get to fight the idiot on the bus. There was no, my mom is cool and thinks fighting is OK. There was just an ah-ha moment that indicated he knew the right thing to do.
Smiling I replied, “I’ll act shocked if the school calls.”
See because my son plays hockey, he’s not afraid to step in and take a hit for the team when the time is right. It’s a mentality he’s learned by playing the game. I am not saying hockey is the only place to learn this mindset. I am just saying that’s how he learned it, and I think it’s an important way for him to think.
Think what you want of me for encouraging him to stick his fist in a bully’s face, I don’t care. But if it were your daughter getting picked on because of her difference, you’d be happy my son was on her bus.
I Like Watching Them Win
I know it’s important to win and to lose, and I know learning to lose with dignity is important. It teaches kids they have to work harder. I get all the psychology behind it. But, I am not going to lie and say I like it. I like watching my kids win. I like watching them light up when they see their hard work paid off.
In a world full of participation trophies, kids often forget that hard work breeds success. And when my kids see that, I know they are one step closer to moving out of my house after they finish school. (I need my basement to write; I don’t want them moving into it.)
My kids are still young. I have one teenager, and two children who are still in the very early stages of starting to play. I can tell you this; they glow when they score a goal or when they earn an assist. And I like watching it.
I enjoy watching the rush they get when their hard work pays off for them. If that makes me a crazy hockey mom, then great. I’ll take my label on a Yeti coffee mug, so my coffee stays extra hot at the cold rinks.
If You’ve Skimmed up to This Point, At Least Read this Last Part
So you see, it’s not NHL aspirations that get my ass up at 5 AM every weekend for ten months out of the year. It’s my desire to raise my kids to be good people, and hockey does that. When is the last time you saw a hockey player on the news for steroids, dog fighting, or beating his wife?
You want to question me about why I am spending money allowing my kids to play hockey. I want to ask you about why you are still buying your kids football jerseys for teams who hire people who are not real role models. Put Sidney Crosby in a room with Michael Vick, what person do you want your kids going to talk with? Enough said.
I want to know why you are going to baseball games to watch teams who have players who take steroids. Given the choice of two people over for dinner with your children, who would you pick? Brendan Gallagher, one of the NHL’s hardest workers on and off the ice, or Barry Bonds, who all of sudden just beefed up and started slamming the ball?
I guess all I can say is the phrase “Hockey is Life” isn’t just about the effect and obsession the game has on everyone involved with youth hockey–team, parents, coaches, managers, players, and fans. It’s about the life lessons the game teaches kids. Life lessons aren’t cheap, which is why I am not too concerned about what the bill is.
Like my hockey mom blog? Never miss another post. Join my mail list today.