When Hockey Was Simple—Liam's story

Anyone that has a shy child will be able to relate to this story. Our Liam is our first born. He is a beautiful, freckled faced, red haired little boy with an incredible personality. At home, with his family, he is hilarious, loving and full of spunk. When he is around a lot of people he is very reserved and tends to step back a little. It takes him a while to warm up and he often lets his little brother do all the talking. If there are times when he’s meeting new people or is put in an unfamiliar situation, he is very quiet. For people who don’t know him well, they love to comment on how shy he is. They say things like, “Wow your son is so quiet” or “Cat got your tongue” … seriously, what does that even mean?

When it comes to Liam playing any kind of sport, it’s a totally different story. He is a natural athlete who seems to catch on quickly to anything he tries. When his uncles attempt to beat him at corn hole or golf, they have to work very hard and it often doesn’t go well. He is extremely competitive, so reminding him to “have fun” has become a full-time sport for me as his Mom. I’m glad I was asked to do a story about “When Hockey was Simple” when Liam is so young. I know as he gets older he’s going to want to compete at the highest level in hockey and I’ve been told that atmosphere in the rink isn’t always so simple.

When we spoke to Liam about playing hockey he was really excited and wanted to do it. His tune changed a bit the night before his first practice. He started to tell us that he was worried he wouldn’t be good enough, he was scared he’d be smaller than the other kids and he was worried they would make fun of him for not keeping up. We talked to him at length to remind him that this would be fun and it was all about learning.

I can say that by the time we got to the rink his Dad and I were just as nervous as he was. I knew if the anxiety and shyness took over we would never get him back on the ice. We got him dressed and reluctantly off he went. We found our seats in the stands and anxiously waited to see what would happen. To our surprise, they started with a game of tag and it was players versus coaches. We watched our anxious little boy turn into a giggling little spit fire who took over the ice and the coaches couldn’t catch him. One of the rules was that you were able to help your teammates who might get tagged. Liam had caught on to the game pretty quickly. If skating didn’t keep him from getting caught he started to roll, if rolling didn’t work he attempted to hide behind the coaches and every strategy seemed to work. One of the best moments was when our shy little boy was helping the other players to keep them from getting tagged. In that moment, there was no worry of the other kids being bigger, no anxiety and no shyness. In the middle of it all, he found us in the stands and he smiled at us from ear to ear. He was literally beaming.

As a parent you want others to see your child’s incredible personality. When you are raising a shy child, people tend to mistake your child as meek or think they are lacking in confidence and that’s simply not true. The best part of that day for me was seeing Liam interact with his teammates who hours before were perfect strangers. I started to wonder if any of them would describe him as shy to their parents. After watching them play together, I think they’d simply say, “That’s Liam, he is so funny, did you see him rolling around on the ice? He has the best giggle and he’s my new friend.”

So “When Hockey was Simple” for me was the moment my son smiled at us from the ice. In that moment he was comfortable, confident and happy. What more can a mother ask for? I am determined to keep that image in my mind for the moments down the road if/when hockey gets a bit more complicated and not so simple.


- Written by Allyson Tufts