This is it, my friends. After five years, 3 players on 8 different teams, my Initiation years are over. Done. No more. This weekend we have our end of season team party for Boy #3’s third year Initiation team. By a stroke of fate and good luck, we have had the pleasure to spend two years with mostly the same families and I couldn’t think of a better way to end this chapter of our hockey life.
That said, I can’t believe it’s over. Around the time Boy #3 started hockey, I started to believe that I would forever be bringing a kid to a frozen rink at the crack of Saturday morning dawn. I felt like the slog of the Sunday afternoon in the world’s coldest arena would never end. Some of this was a result of trying to figure out where Boy #2 belonged. Turns out, it would take us another two years to find out his place is between the pipes.
But somehow, here we are.
This was the first year I didn’t take video of the first Initiation practice where the “players” spent their 50 minutes starfishing it on the ice and the coaches backs broke lifting them up and showing them how to get themselves on their skates and moving.
No starfish this year. They all hit the ice and were off.
This year the Saturday morning crack of dawn practices became just a little bitter sweet knowing that they would not be the anchor of my weekend. Next season I wont have to go and pull my youngest player out of bed. I won’t get to cuddle with his sleepy warm body for ten minutes while he wakes up. I wont have to get up at the crack of dawn and get gear into the Hockey Mobile and warm it up before I go and cuddle.
Next year, the schedule will be totally different. All over the place. Morning, noon, evenings. It’ll change from week to week.
This year, I was rendered fairly useless by my Initiation player as he learned to dress himself in his hockey equipment. But every now and then I got the chance to help him into his gear and tie his skates.
Between summer hockey camp and his desire to be like the brothers, I am pretty sure my days of being needed in the change room are numbered. Part of me is thankful having walked past a Bantam change room a time or two. And part of me wonders just how much longer I’m really going to be needed in general.
Here’s the thing about hockey that I have grown to love: the firsts and lasts don’t come as often when the kids grow up. That first year is full of firsts…first words, first steps all of it. Even as toddlers, you get a whole bunch of wonderful firsts. Now that my kids are all in school and the firsts are fewer and farther between, hockey has given me a few extra milestones to cherish. The first hockey season, the last Initiation year, the first assist. And I have a few that I’m very much looking forward to: the first shut out, the first goal, the first Season Finalist banner with one of my player’s names on it. Whether they come or not, I know that hockey holds more milestones for my players and myself. For that I’m thankful.
So here is to marking yet another milestone. The end of the Initiation years.
They were so very good to us.
See you at the rink,