All posts by Karawith3kids

Tough Decisions for a Hockey Family

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Tough decision are just that, tough. We had to make a tough decision this year about kid activities. We will only have one hockey player. I can barely type these words without crying. I honestly don’t know who is more upset about it, me or my little goalie that won’t get to play. Probably me.

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A letter to “that kid” from Just a Hockey Mom

A fellow hockey mom friend of mine shared an experience she recently had during a summer camp. She took her son up to a prestigious prep school in the USA that is known for producing NHL players and other hockey heavy-hitters. It was a great experience over all, but there was a stain on that week. She asked me if she would be able to send me a letter that she wrote to another kid at the camp. Now, she didn’t actually SEND the letter to this kid, but I know from experience, that just writing about issues that bother me is quite a cathartic experience.

Reading this letter, made me think of many times when I was her. I think we all need to read this. Whether you are a parent of this kid to whom she is writing or a parent similar to her, we all need to read it. So without further adieu, please read the words of Just a Hockey Mom:

To the Young Man from New York on My Son’s Hockey Team at Camp:

You are 14 years old and you are extremely talented. You have fast feet, great hands, you are strong on the puck, skate like the wind and are physically a beast. It is so clear that you love the game. Congratulations on finding your thing. I love seeing kids find their passion.

Hockey is also my son’s thing. He is 13 years old, a rule follower and he is a tall skinny kid. He is not as good as you. It is obvious you play AAA. He plays single A. His growth spurts have wreaked havoc on his stride, He is not confident with the puck, and when he is told a game is “No check”, he won’t even bump.

He has throughout the years, had trouble figuring out his body because he gets a new one every 5 or 6 months. Like all big kids, he garners a lot of penalties because sometimes when he bumps people, it looks like an adult picking on a toddler. He is not as good as you though, and he may never be. And that is ok, because he loves hockey. It’s his passion too.

My husband brought hockey into my life. I didn’t know much about the sport until we started dating. When I agreed we should put our son (and daughter, for a little while) in hockey, I had NO IDEA what I was getting into. And I wouldn’t change a thing. It is a sport whose culture is different from other sports in a lot of ways. The hockey values toughness. It values humility. It values hard work and tenacity. It values role players and defense. It values team play. And yes, it values talent.

Congratulations! You very definitely have the talent part, in spades!

It’s too bad you dismissed my son at camp because he’s not as skilled as you are. Instead of yelling at him, as your defensive partner, for not cleaning up the mess you made when you went on a defensive rush nearly every time you touched the puck, you would have seen him trying to figure out how to best cover 3 guys by himself when you lost the puck. He could have taught you team play.

It’s too bad you blew him off when he tried to congratulate you when you went on yet another defensive rush with 20 seconds to go in a game when your team was already winning 10 to 0, so you could get that goal that eluded you in the first two games. If you had paid attention, you would have seen him talking to the other team’s goalie at the end, telling him not to be too hard on himself, some games are just like that. He could have taught you humility.

It’s also too bad that on the occasions that you listened to the coach and were home to play D, kids just walked right past you, even with your speed, that you didn’t value my son’s efforts with his awkward stride, to stop the guy you just let past you. He could have taught you hard work and tenacity.

I have seen your team play 3 games this week. My son has zero points. If you had shown some tenacity and hard work, your team wouldn’t have lost the first two games because you were always out of position or not putting in any defensive effort at all. In 3 games, had you shown some team play in passing and communication, you could have had EASILY 6-8 points with assists. Do you know how many points you had? You had 1 point, on that last defensive rush that finally worked with 20 seconds left, so you could put your team up 11-0, just to drive home the humiliation for the other team and their goalie.

Listen, I get it. You are young, and competitive. You still have time to figure it out. I am sure your skill will give you wonderful opportunities to learn and grow. Chances are you will run into players with more talent than you. I hope you learn the lessons that you missed this week, because those are the traits that hockey values that will make you a better person. You treated my son and many others badly. Please don’t think you are the first to treat my son this way, you are just the latest. My son is fine. He is a good kid, with a good heart, and he still loves hockey.

You probably won’t remember the kids from hockey camp this week, and that’s ok. They already have the lessons that you are missing well learned. My hope for you is that the players you run into that are better than you treat you better than you treated my son, some of his teammates, and your opponents. I truly hope these more talented players don’t rub away some of your love for the game. But that is not how karma works, is it?

Congratulations on your talent though. I am sure it will take you far.

Sincerely,

Just a Hockey Mom

When your kid is the goon

My kid is a goon. There I said it.

So, I have this 17 year old that didn’t start skating until he was 12. Most kids that age have been skating for 5 or more years. When he started playing on the local club team outside of St. Louis, he was slow and uneasy on the ice and couldn’t really puck handle. On a turnover, by the time he skated down to the other blue line, the play was either already on its way back or the other team had scored.

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It wasn’t always easy for “Thing 3”

20180628_093147_00015756681674860783899.pngThe 3rd child in any family benefits by having experienced parents and older siblings willing to help out, however, the downside is that they don’t always get the attention the older siblings may have been fortunate enough to experience.  Thing 3 was always trying to do what the older kids were doing. He had experienced parents and two sibling to mimic.   He walked earlier than they did, he climbed stairs and jumped off stairs.  He would climb on the kitchen counters and on top of the refrigerator to get snacks and then jump right off the top of the fridge without climbing down to the counter first.  He was a do-er.  He was a daredevil.  He had no fear and he had a distracted mother.

In the summer of 2009 I had surgery on my knee and when I went to Physical Therapy, he would tag along with me.  The Physical Therapist on our 3rd visit observed him bopping around the therapy room and said to me, “He’s a toe walker.  How old is he?”

He was 2 1/2.  She said that walking on the toes is common in toddlers when they first learn to walk, but by they time they are 2, they should grow out of it. However, I should see his pediatrician about it, just to be sure.

How did I miss this?  He is the 3rd kid.  I am supposed to be experienced in what toddlers should and shouldn’t be doing.  I watched all the milestones with the other two.  How did I miss this with the 3rd?  Mom guilt overload.

To make the long story short, he was indeed a toe-walker. But why?  He was evaluated for everything from Cerebral Palsy to Autism.  Nothing.  Then one doctor said that some kids just have short heel-cords and walk on their toes.  No big deal right?  Well when your kid is more comfortable in stilettos than gym shoes and all he does is run and jump off things, it will cause problems.  So off to physical therapy 3 times a week.

After the PT didn’t really help, he was fitted with leg braces.  AFO’s was the term used.  They were pretty cool looking with cars and trucks on them.  We ended up wearing some form of leg braces for 3 years.  It helped a little, but not much.

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His various Leg Braces-

In the summer of 2012, we were told by the orthopedic surgeon, that he would need to have surgery to correct this.  If he didn’t, he would end up having joint issues as early as 20.  It was better to do the little surgery at 5 years old than it would be to have a hip or knees replacement at 25.  So we scheduled the surgery for September so he could have the summer to be a 5 year old.

The surgery went well and he was fitted with full long-leg casts for 8 weeks.

IMG_0412.jpgThe day after surgery

So after the long 8-weeks of walking around like Frankenstein, trying to NOT pee on the casts and taking sponge baths, we finally got the casts off. They came off in 2 stages.

IMG_0107.JPG -Stage 1 cut the casts down below the knee-

 

He healed up well and about 2 weeks after the short casts came off, we were cleared to start PT to rehab the legs, tendons and muscle loss.

PT went well and we were looking at some other options to keep him moving.  Karate was the first one we tried.  He liked it and did well.  But the summer before surgery, Thing 3 participated in USA Hockey Learn-to-Play program through MOHockey.  He loved it and even though we hadn’t been on the ice in nearly a year, he said he really wanted to try it.  PT gave us the green light, as long as the doctor approved.  3 -weeks later in the spring on 2013, Thing 3 tied on a pair of skates and all the equipment and played with the local hockey club for their spring hockey program.

IMG_0409.JPG –Spring Hockey 6 months after surgery

It was a good thing he had a lot of equipment on.  He fell.  A lot.  The one thing he did say was that the skate boot kept him from skating on his toes.  LOL.  I thought that was insightful for a 6 year old.

He had to work hard.  He had to skate harder and practice more often than the other 6 year olds.  We had to wrap his feet in gauze and tape to keep the boot from rubbing the scars on his Achilles.  Not once did he complain.  He wanted this. He wanted to be normal and not the kid with long-leg casts.

Spring hockey ended and we started thinking about playing for a team more seriously.  Hockey is expensive. Equipment is expensive.  Travel is expensive.  He was 6.  Did we really want to make this monetary and huge time commitment right after having major surgery and months of PT?

Well, we did.  Jump first; look 2nd.

When I look back on those 1st years in hockey, I wonder now what I was so worried about?  But as all parents do, we worry about every little decision.  Am I setting up my kid for a lifetime of therapy to get over his childhood?  Will he hate me if we don’t do hockey?  Will he fail?  Will he be made fun of because of his scars?

Kids adapt so much better than their parents.

IMG_5492.jpg –The day of surgery and 1 year later

I asked him the other day what he would do if there wasn’t hockey.  He said he can’t even remember at time when he didn’t play hockey, nor when he didn’t have gnarly scars on his feet.

“Mom, if there wasn’t hockey at all?  Well, then I guess I would have to invent it.”

Good thing we jumped first.

 

So how did this Hockey thing start?

It wasn’t until 2011, when we moved to a suburb outside of St. Louis, that I took my oldest son to his first hockey game. Thing #1 was 10, we tried everything at this point to find his interest, baseball, soccer, fencing, swim team. It wasn’t until that fateful evening in December 2011, when he saw the St. Louis Blues play the Chicago Blackhawks that he looked at me with the look of wonder and said, “What IS this? And why am I just seeing this now?”

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Summer Pond Hockey: From Goalie to Skater

It is summer in Chicago. The long winter youth hockey season has ended, spring tournament season is over and it is hot outside. So this is the time of year where we throw a team of our friends together and play 3 on 3 with pond hockey rules. No icing, no offsides, and any penalty is a penalty shot.

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