I was on Facebook the other day when I came across a video of a radio announcer reading an article about what it's like to raise a boy, she referred to it as the greatest break up. It got me thinking of my version of the greatest break-up. When my son was young he always wanted me to play cars with him, to colour, go for a walk or do whatever would give him one on one time with me. At the time I thought it would be like that forever. When he started to play hockey, he'd smile at me through his mask, eyes sparkling, cheeks red and face glistening with sweat because he was working so hard to keep his balance with those great big pads on. He'd always come running out of the dressing room asking me if we could go for a Tim-bit. He wanted to talk all about his big saves or how funny it was when his friend farted in the dressing room.
As the years passed, things started to change as they do as kids get older. Luckily, I still had the drives to the rink. Those drives bought me time that I don't think I would have found had he not played sports. Sometimes we talked about important life things, sometimes we just listened to really good music (we’ve always had the same taste in music), sometimes we'd sit quiet because he was trying to focus. If I’m being totally honest sometimes we'd fight over him not doing his chores or being mouthy but, in every case, we were side by side together being a Mom and a son. It sounds simple enough, right? Unfortunately, the car rides look different today. He has his licence and he has his own car. That level of control I had in being his chauffer has gone out the window. I now attempt to carve out a meal with my son once a week to get caught up, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I've often thought of what he'd say if I asked him to join me on a three-hour car ride on a Friday night so we could chat. I can say with great certainty it would be, "No thanks Mom, its country night at the bar!"
I have had my fair share of moments with my son that I struggled with as he was getting older. I wish I could have been as articulate as the lady that wrote the article on Facebook. Unfortunately, my version of what that felt like for me was a bit raw. Here is a story from the book of one of those moments when I realized there was going to come a time when I wasn’t the one he’d be looking for in the stands….
I remember a moment after one of Jack’s games when I was waiting for him in the arena lobby. He seemed to be taking longer than normal so I went back into the rink to see where he was. As I walked in I saw all of his equipment and his pads sitting by the dressing room but no Jack. As I looked further I saw him standing with a group of young girls. As frustrated as I was that he left me waiting for him, I smiled to myself because I could tell he was flirting. I proceeded to walk towards them to say Hi. I knew them all; they were the girls he went to school with. As I walked towards him the look on his face was as if a hand grenade was headed his way. He then made a gesture with his hand as if to say “shew”, the way you would shew a fly away. At this point I looked behind me to try and figure out who this poor person was that he was being so rude to. To my surprise there was nobody behind me and I realized the hand gesture was for me and so was the look. (Are you kidding, you’re going to treat me like that!) I felt myself walking faster, determined to get to where he was and show him my displeasure with how he had just treated me. As I got to him I said Hello to the girls who all seemed to be laughing at an inside joke he’d obviously just told about me. He then looked at me and said, “Do you want to grab my equipment and take it to the car?” At that point it was war; I then turned to him and said, “No I don’t! Do you want to hurry up and grab your own equipment?” All of a sudden, the girls were bumping into each other trying to get away from me. Maybe it was the smoke coming out of my nostrils or the bright red colour of my face, either way they knew he was in for a long ride home. I made it very clear that if he was going to embarrass me I’d be happy to do the same to him. I often used that line with the kids; if you’re going to treat me badly in front of your friends I can give it right back. It usually scared them enough to make them smarten up. I guess the thought of me walking up and kissing him smack on the face in front of his friends to prove a point was enough to make him realize that coming over to simply say Hi wasn’t so bad. He had to realize that I would never accept being treated with disrespect. Reflecting back, what I was really upset about was that he was no longer excited to run to me and tell me the highlights of the game or ask me if I wanted to get a Timbit. I was devastated because I realized there was going to come a time in his life that he’d be looking for his girlfriend in the stands and not his Mom and actually we were already here.
So there’s my version of the greatest break-up, not quite as endearing as the one I read on Facebook. I will always be happy to see him grow up and enter new stages of life but I have to admit I miss being the one he was looking for in the stands. Enjoying being your young players #1 as long as you can!
- Written by Allyson Tufts