Here’s what I’ve learned about kid’s hockey in the last four and a half years: you never know what the schedule is going to be.
The first year, we had two playing in Initiation level. The schedule was predictable an hour each Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon. Busy, yes. But predictable.
Second year was a bit different. One was in Initiation and one was in Novice. One schedule was predictable, the other less so. Still a great season. Still busy. Less predictable.
Third year we added Boy#3 into the mix. Two in Initiation (again) and one in Novice. Life got busier, but was predominately predictable and manageable. For the most part we knew what rink we would be at and I had accepted that I would be at the rink Saturday mornings for about three hours and Sunday afternoons for about three hours with a Novice game or practice adding in another two hours in the two days.
Year Four took us to the next level: one in Initiation, one in Novice, and one in Atom. The only schedule we could predict was Initiation. The saving grace was that the Novice and Atom schedules rarely conflicted and when they did we could manage by going separate ways.
This year….we still have one in Initiation, one in Novice and one in Atom, but we went and complicated matters by volunteering as team manager (me) and team trainer (HockeyDad) for two teams each. There’s more administrative work to be done and more negotiating who goes where and for which boy.
A weekend might look like this:
Saturday morning, I wake up around 5:30 and get the hockey gear together. I get myself ready to go and then get Boy #3 out of bed. We cuddle on the living room chair for a bit as he needs some time to be his happy, shiny self. When the words start pouring out of him (because wow, this kid has a need to talk) we pack into the van and head for coffee. Now I could stay home and make the coffee there. It would save some money. But it’s become our tradition. It also ensures that the older two won’t hear Chatty Cathy and wake up before they need to.
We get to the rink for 6:30 and settle into a change room. Boy #3 has a strong independent streak he starts getting dressed while I start drinking my caffeine. As his teammates trickle in, I step in and start getting the rest of his gear on. At the rate he’s going, Boy #3 might be the first of my kids that can dress himself at the Novice level.
An hour spent with my mom friends drinking coffee and watching our little players , it’s off the ice. We get undressed and pack into the van as quickly as we can to pick up the Novice player for his game. If we’re lucky, we have the time to get there without too much rush. Sometimes we’re lucky, sometimes we’re not. Game prep, and into the bleachers to cheer on the Novice team. Spend 50 minutes on the edge of my seat, then collect the game sheet and pack everyone back into the van to head home.
At this point we scarf down something that resembles lunch and we switch the Novice gear out for the Atom gear. And it’s off to the last rink of the day. Saturday is typically game day so second game of the day on the edge of my seat. If there’s a Tim Horton’s on the way, I spend the first half wrapped around another tea.
In the grand scheme of things, we’re talking three hours of ice time. Less than half a work day. But the effort and travel time and all the tasks related to getting to and getting on the ice take up another 2-3 hours. Add in the emotional roller coaster that is watching your kid on the ice and you pretty much have a limp dishrag by the time Saturday hockey is done.
Before I talk anyone out of the sport, let’s consider the alternative. What else would I be doing on a Saturday morning? Cleaning my house? We all know that wouldn’t happen.
There’s a thought.
See you at the rink,