Saturday, May 11, 2013

And another thing.

My kid wasn’t strapped in to a safety certified high chair. He was just sitting on the floor eating a peanut butter, honey and banana sandwich.

A guest at our home asked me what he was eating.

“He’s not supposed to have peanut butter!” she shrieked, “And honey is toxic to babies!”

Thank Christ she wasn't around the week before, when the Little Bastard had a mouthful of kibble.

My point is this, and it applies to hockey as well as life: Stop.

Stop hovering and maneuvering and worrying. It doesn’t change the outcome.

Here’s a little advice.

Nothing you say will make your child feel better after a crappy game or performance. Just shut up and head to the nearest Dairy Queen. The coach has already said what your kid needs to hear. A double-stuff Blizzard will take it from there.

If your doctor says your kid needs a puffer, ask yourself how you ever survived driving in the backseat of your parent’s station wagon while they puffed merrily with the windows rolled up. Today, when the coach yells for a puffer – half the parents run frantically to the dressing room.

If another parent criticizes your child during a game, do not confront them. Walk away. Show them you are a better person. Go out to the parking lot and look at the stars. Then slash the tires on their fucking minivan.

Be there. I don’t know how many times people said to me “Can’t someone else take him?” Yes, someone else could take him – but is anything you have to do more important than being in the stands when your kid looks up? In 2008, I missed the Quebec International Peewee tournament because I thought I couldn’t afford to go. I regret that. Find a way.

If your kid says he wants to play summer hockey – take a deep breath, and be thankful he doesn’t want to build a bomb in the basement. You can golf when you retire.

Never, ever, cut up your kid’s favourite hockey t-shirts and make them into a quilt. Bad idea.

Keep score. The no-score policy rampant in youth soccer is another attempt to raise children who are ill prepared for the real world. Life isn’t fair. Equal work doesn’t always mean equal pay. Sports teach kids how to win with grace – and more important – how to lose with grace. It’s hard to do that without a scoreboard. And you can bet your ass, every child and every parent is keeping score anyway.

Oh, and if your kid does one of those knuckle dragging celebrations in front of the other team’s bench, they will soon be saying things like “for the boys” and wearing a flat-brimmed hat to grandma’s house for dinner. Beat that shit out of them early.

And finally, know when to push and when to not to push. My kid stopped eating corn when he was five – shortly after I forced him to try creamed corn. Gagging ensued. And he hasn’t eaten a vegetable since.

In his book the “The Gold Mine Effect”, athletic advisor Rasmus Ankersen says, “The parents who criticize the idea of pushing children hard […] are often the same parents who go to wine tasting on Tuesday and yoga class on Thursday while their children are engaged in other activities.”  

Be there. Push. Love.

That’s my advice to have with your weekend coffee. Do with it as you will. 

All I know is, my kid survived. He is a kind, happy, 6’7” young man who has a peanut butter sandwich before every workout.

I must have done something right.

This appeared in the Chronicle Herald, minus a few "naughty" words.