From The Desk Of Allyson Tufts: The "Rink Rat"

I bet, on any given day, you can find a group of kids running around the arena who many refer to as “Rink Rats.” They are the siblings of the kids that are playing hockey.  I was one of them. For many years I was that kid that ran around the rink while my brothers played.  I often talk about the memories I made while watching my son but I have to say I had many memories of driving to the rink to watch my brothers. At that time my parents would tell me what time the game would be over and to meet them at the car.  You could run freely through the rink playing tag, jumping from seat to seat and my parents never had a clue where I was.  Times certainly have changed.  There is no way I’d let my kids run free in the rink but I had no problem packing my daughter a suitcase of toys so I could have that one hour to watch the game. 

I have to say that this was yet another area that I wasn’t very good at. I’d get her packed up with toys and snacks.  I’d make promises that if she was good during the game that I’d get her something from the canteen.  The sad part is, I would get her something even if she drove me crazy to try to keep her occupied so I could watch. It seemed that whenever my son was about to make a big save or get scored on, my daughter would want me to play with her dolls or she’d have to use the washroom….the nerve! Didn’t she know I was trying to watch him make a big save?

In my book I wrote:

“I never wanted my daughter to play second fiddle to her brother. I’d try to pretend I was listening, but she’d point out quite quickly that I wasn’t even looking at her when she was telling me her very important story. I wanted to turn to her and say, “It’s a breakaway!” But instead I’d nod and pretend to be excited about what was happening in her barbie dolls pretend life.  It never failed that she’d always have to go pee when the game was tied. 

The older she got, the more I realized that this very smart little girl was doing some of these things on purpose for attention at a time when so much of it was on her brother.”

During our first year of rep we had spent so much time driving to and from hockey, talking about hockey, spending vacations at hockey tournaments and our daughter was getting dragged along with us. We realized it was time to change things up.  Just because she wasn’t in organized sports, didn’t mean she didn’t need her own time doing things she loved.  Our first instinct was to put her in organized sports but that wasn’t for her either.  In the end we started to have “girl’s nights” when my son had practice.  She and I would go for dinner and she’d have my undivided attention to tell me the drama in her Barbie’s life.  My husband coached her all summer in house league ball so she could say Daddy was her coach too.  We started to let her pick the restaurants after games and bring friends.  Even though I think she enjoyed being a hockey sister, and the perks that went along with it.  We needed to remember she was our daughter first, regardless of the hockey schedule. 

As you go through this amazing hockey life, if you are dragging a little one along to watch, make sure you are allowing them to navigate their own ride wherever that may be. 

- Written by Allyson Tufts