This pandemic has given us an opportunity to have a lot of time with our kids and a chance to have some really good conversations. One of my greatest regrets as a Hockey Mom was that I waited until my son was out of minor hockey to ask him how he felt we managed as hockey parents.
When I partnered with BC hockey to do a video series for my book “Lessons from Behind the Glass”, we did a series of videos related to each chapter in the book. Each video opened and closed with conversations between my son and I on different topics of how he felt as the player and how I felt as the hockey Mom. I remember being so excited to do this with him. He was 18 years old at the time. I had taken him shopping to get ready for the trip. I bought him new clothes and he got a haircut. On the first day, we flew to Vancouver and met with a film crew and some of the Hockey Canada executives. He walked in and shook everyone’s hand as I stood beaming with pride.
We started to do our first interview on camera when they asked me, “How do you think you did on the car rides home?” I started to explain that I thought I did a good job, kept it positive, etc. As I’m talking in the video you can see on my son’s face that he things I’m a pathological liar. After a few seconds of my goalie mom rambling he abruptly interrupted me to says, “I haaaaated the car rides home!” At that moment I didn’t know what else to do so I said, “CUT!” All of a sudden, this feeling of pride in my young eighteen-year-old turned into a feeling of anger and embarrassment. I wanted to yell at him right then and there but we were on camera surrounded by Hockey Canada executives who suddenly looked terribly uncomfortable. In the end, after much discussion we decided to leave that exchange in the video. People often tell me it’s one of their favourite moments (For more on the Lessons from Behind the Glass video series go to www.lessonsfrombehindtheglass.com). My son and ended up talking a lot about how my actions or comments made him feel during his hockey years. I realized that there were times that it was probably more of a relief for him when I wasn’t at certain games.
During this pandemic, when there are so many restrictions on spectators in the rink, I have to wonder if some kids are feeling some relief. The car rides home might now be filled with “Tell me about the game”, rather than “This is what you should have done”. I wonder what the games are like for the kids who aren’t hearing the negative screams from the stands. I wonder if the kids are finally just playing for themselves and their teammates – not for Mom and Dad’s approval. I wonder if they are just so happy to be back on the rink, to just be playing the game and so happy to be doing it without any pressure. I’m not saying that this is true for everyone. I know there are many parents that make this a positive experience for their kids. I can tell you that I thought I was one of them but unfortunately, I was wrong. The point is, this is a great opportunity to ask your young players, “How does it feel to play without Mom and Dad watching” Be prepared, you might not like their answer. At the very least it will give you the opportunity to be better for young player. Don’t wait until their done playing, this is an opportunity for a reboot and some good conversation. Stay safe everyone!
-Written by Allyson Tufts