when you prepare for the worst, but hope for the best

When we last left off with the boy who cried hockey saga, Connor was furiously expressing his desire to go out on the ice with Caroline at Learn to Hockey. Here is what happened next.

Steve and I debated several times over the course of the following week what the right move was here. On one hand, the kid was telling us he wanted to go. On the other, we didn't 100% buy what he was selling. I suggested we talk to the organizers and let them know that he wanted to go out and let them in on our situation. I hypothesized that they would be quite sympathetic. Not only would their records show that Connor had been registered for a full session, I was also quite sure all the coaches were well aware of the challenges of session one and two. I think everyone in a two block vicinity was familiar with the challenges of session one and two. I thought it would provide us an opportunity to share our only goal was one positive experience out there to potentially make way for a real try next season. Steve wasn't opposed, but he worried we would get him there, get him dressed and WHAM, kid refuses to go out again after all the communication and great effort of everyone. We don't want to be those parents. No one wants to be those parents.

I spent much of the week talking to him about it as casually as I could and we were surprised his enthusiasm remained. I think we both thought he would react poorly to these conversations, shake off the idea, and remove any need for us to make this decision. There was not a hint of reluctance, not a squirm, not a topic dodge. He was IN. We scratched our heads and shrugged our shoulders. I think we both suspected that when the dreaded "time to get dressed" approached he would fall apart and that would be the end of things. Imagine our surprise then as he willingly changed his clothes, sat down to get shin pads and socks on, and was so fired up to go play hockey that we thought we had the wrong kid. What had we done? We sat the kids side by side to suit up at the rink and he was all smiles.

Steve brought his own equipment because we had promised him that Daddy would go with him. Wouldn't you know that the lead instructor approached Steve to ask him to assist in Caroline's group. He had to say he would help, but he had been planning to help the youngest group. This was a toughie. It went right back to where we were in the fall and our focus was inappropriately shifted to Connor getting on the ice when it really should have been on the girl excelling on the other end. I don't think we like being in that space very much. We truly didn't think Connor was going to last long (if at all) on the ice. Steve left the kids in line to get out on the ice with the coaches and Connor stepped right on out there. Solo.
I almost couldn't believe it. He looked a little lost and incredibly tiny, but he was out there, scooting along. The high school varsity girls who help out went right to his side to offer support and back and forth he went. Steve was there to help him while assisting with the session and after about fifteen minutes he was done.


I went down to the far side of the rink to collect him and get him undressed. He absolutely refused. For the rest of the session, he kept his equipment and skates taking pretend slapshots. I asked him several times if he wanted to go back out and he said no, so I didn't push. As the clock ticked on and we were approaching the end of the session, I finally asked why. He told me it was because they were just going back and forth and he wanted to play with a puck. This was not hockey.

I think we will have two hockey players in the fall at either competing or completely different times, I am unsure which is a worse scenario. I foresee some time at a local rink for some serious open skate time to get him skating well for fall because this boy has no patience for skating drills that don't include a puck. He's got a road ahead of him, but we are incredibly proud of him for getting out there last weekend and giving it a go, with a smile.

We had been so prepared for some hitch all week that would give us the opportunity to say, "ok, no go." It never happened and we didn't quite know what to do with that. I suspected he would ignore our discussion. I thought for sure when Sunday actually rolled around he would look at me with the painful, "you want me to what?" face. I was certain the application of equipment to his body would send him into hysterics. I knew there was no way he would ever step out on that ice willingly without a parent forcibly pushing his little hockey pant wearing butt out there. I held my breath for the entire fifteen minutes waiting for the tears to start, the crying to be heard throughout the rink, and imagining myself pulling him skates and all out the door to the car. I was prepared for the tears that never came, speech ready to comfort that I never needed. Your kids will always surprise you.

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