I’m cheating again and recycling a post from my shortish-lived Hockey Mom blog. Hockey season is upon us once again, and since the hubby is fundraising coordinator this year, it’s been months of non-stop hockey talk at our house, even without a mention of the NHL lockout (totally lame on their part, by the way). And since I don’t have the same level of passion/patience as my husband, it’s nice to get a reminder of exactly why we do this. So I bring you the repeat of :
Little Guy. Big Heart.
How little a guy? People who don’t already know often ask how old my son is. They’re almost universally surprised when I say five years old. “Oh?” they ask, “Did he just turn five?” No, his birthday is in June. “So, is he already in Kindergarten?” Yes, he’s already in Kindergarten. “Wow. He’s… uh… well…” Small. Short. Tiny. A shrimp. A peanut. There’s really no other way to say it. He weighs the same as his sister who is 2 1/2 years younger (38 pounds). He is just now outgrowing 3T pants and is barely tall enough to go solo on some of the kiddie rides in Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America (about 43″). He’s been teased a bit at school, but we’ve taught him the old adage: Good things come in small packages. That includes hockey players.
How big a heart? For once, it’s hard for me to find the words. I can describe some of the individual plays – one of his four (but who’s counting?) Ovechkinish goals (getting tripped up and sliding by the net on his back, reaching out with his stick for a final chance – he shoots, he scores!), his Brodeur-style save (poke save on the left, then diving across to the other side to cover up the rebound – save!).
But it was more than the big plays. It was the way he wasn’t afraid to challenge the kids twice his size. The way he skated hard and fast from buzzer to buzzer. The way he came from nowhere to smack the puck off someone’s stick and break up a play. It was the way he always jumped up after being knocked down (usually by accident, sometimes not) and went right back after the puck. The way he never stopped poking at the half-covered puck until he got it free and past the goal line. The way the whole arena rooted for him on a breakaway. It was the way he, at five years old, left it all out on the ice each and every time.
It was an amazing game (my husband nearly burst with Canadian fatherly pride), but I had two conversations with other mothers this week that told me what I like to tell everybody else: that he is an amazing kid. The first mother I actually met at my daughter’s dance class. She recognized me from the rink and knew my son by name, although we have never been on the same team. After her initial surprise at finding out how old he was, she told me how much fun it was to watch him on the ice, especially when he was up against bigger players. She called him fearless.
The other conversation I had was with a fellow team mom – she already knew how old he was, so we skipped that part. She told me that she was amazed at his energy and pointed out that every single time she saw him skating back to the bench, he was all big brown eyes (watch out, ladies) and an enormous smile. She said his love of the game was always written all over his face.
This is not the same kid I wrote about last year. Last year, he was a little kid playing hockey. This year he is a Hockey Player in a young (and tiny) body.
Update: My son is now eight years old, and proudly the shortest kid in third grade. He still plays with this same passion, though it’s much more apparent when he’s playing soccer. He’s still a little guy, and he still has the biggest heart (and not just when it comes to sports) than anybody I know.