It finally happened.
Ice hockey has become a Thing in my house.
I guess I should have seen it coming. We live in Massachusetts, after all, and kids around here seem pop out at birth wearing skates and cheering for the B’s. But I am not from here. I haven’t skated since I was a kid — neither has Ray, who grew up in New York. We’ve never gone to a rink as a family, though Mitzi has gone a few times with friends. As far as watching sports on TV, hockey is about as popular in our house as cricket.
So far it’s just Cooper who’s been growing increasingly interested over the past couple of years, mostly because a few of his friends play (I applaud their parents — aside from the expense of equipment and ice time, those early morning practices are enough to earn you sainthood). Last year he mentioned once that he wanted to give it a try, then never brought it up again. I sighed in relief. Hockey Mom was not my destiny.
This year, though, with the mild winter and new playmates, Cooper, a natural athlete (which is honestly just the truth, not bragging) has had a lot of opportunities to play street hockey. He asked for a net and stick for his birthday, and his generous grandfather complied. It’s now hulking in the basement, and we upstairs are constantly bombarded with the wap, wap, wap as he slapsticks puck after puck. So far, he’s managed to avoid any windows.
Also for his birthday, he’s asked for hockey trading cards to add to his collections of baseball and Pokemon cards so carefully catalogued in three-ring binders. And he wants a jersey of some Bruins player. I know he told me the name, but it wasn’t one of the two I know. I haven’t really remembered a hockey player since I had a teenage crush on Ray Bourque (who was very cute) even though I don’t think I ever actually watched him play a game. He must have been featured in 16 Magazine or Tiger Beat.
So in his emerging hockey obsession, last night Cooper sat through the evening news, refusing to come to dinner, because he wanted to find out why Tim Thomas did not go to the White House to meet the president. I wouldn’t let him miss dinner, so we had to DVR the broadcast.
We still haven’t watched it, but now I have to figure out how to explain to my almost-nine-year-old son that this newfound sports hero was having a moment of selfish brattiness. That the only American citizen on the team couldn’t move beyond his politics and let his country congratulate him and his teammates on a wonderful accomplishment. That this athlete’s behavior diminished what should have been a singular moment of celebration for the championship players — instead of applauding the men, everyone is now focusing on Thomas’s all-about-me petulance.
Yesterday, Thomas missed the save, the opportunity to show young fans everywhere how to express his personal views to the leader of our country without tantrum or negativity. He missed the chance to show kids democracy in action, as well as showing them that talented and respected athletes, the heroes they worship to passionately, can use their fame and skills to make a difference.
It’s a shame. Cooper loves sports and he loves heroes.
Luckily, Tim Thomas, there are plenty of choices for my son. Today, you’re not one of them.