Monday, September 08, 2008

Miracle on Ice

Editor's Note: With all the talk about hockey moms, evangelicals, and lipstick-wearing dogs, here is one from the archives. Enjoy!

Dear Zen Mother,

My kids want to play ice hockey. I’m terrified they will get hurt. How can I deter their interest?

Debbie from Newburyport

Dear Debbie,

Be forewarned, you may be interfering with a higher calling. In our town, there are two religions. One is celebrated at a church, the other at the local hockey rink and what God has created let no man put asunder.

Our divine encounter occurred in the middle of the night. A cherub resembling my five-year old boy appeared at my bedside. “Mom,” said the angel, “all I want to do is play hockey.” I bolted upright and screamed, “Noooooooooo!” but the apparition was gone. My husband awoke and asked what was wrong. “Jack wants to play hockey,” I said. “That’s ridiculous,” said my husband. “He doesn’t even know what hockey is.” We tiptoed into his bedroom. There was our little angel, sound asleep, with an autographed picture of Wayne Gretzky tucked under his arm. We fell to our knees in reverence. It was time to join the faithful.

“You have to be the bow,” my sister explained when I told her of the night’s celestial event and my subversive plan to sign Jack up for Irish Step Dance instead. “Gibran wrote, ‘You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.’ Jack will do what he wants. You can only guide him at this point.” I hung up on Miss I Quote Obscure Writers but she had a point. “Be the bow,” I repeated.

Our journey to enlightenment started with hockey registration. A jovial coach explained the schedule to me. If I understood him correctly, I would be spending the next 342 days driving to various hockey rinks in North America. Overwhelmed, I muttered my new mantra: Be the bow. I took the schedule from the coach’s hand and drove over to the sporting goods store.

Once there, I met the zealots: hockey moms, women who can style their hair, apply lipstick and tighten ice hockey skates in a single bound. “New this year?” asked a pretty redhead as I stared at a row of hockey sticks. I nodded. “You’ll need the right safety gear,” she said. The woman proceeded to list a dizzying array of hockey equipment: shin pads, elbow pads, shoulder pads, mouth guard, neck protector…I thought I might throw up in the $85 hockey bag I just purchased. I wondered if it was too late to interest my son in Origami. Be the bow.

Sunday morning arrived. We dressed Jack in his hockey uniform and buckled him into the back seat of the car. He looked like a small turtle in an oversized shell. I burst into tears. “I can’t be the bow!” I wailed. My husband understood but covered my mouth with hockey tape all the same. We arrived at the rink and Jack skated off without waiting for a kiss from his overprotective, bow-less mommy. From the stands I watched him learn to turn, stop and skate backward. It was time to scrimmage. Within seconds of the face-off, Jack had the puck and was skating toward the net. I stood, ripped the hockey tape from my mouth and screamed, “Put it through the five hole!”

I have no idea what I said but two hockey moms stood up behind me and yelled, “Amen!”

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