My eleven-year-old’s hockey team had its wrap-up party, and I was dead-set against writing about it because 1) I don’t want people to avoid spending time with me for fear they will end up as a story (they should be afraid for other reasons); and 2) there are other things happening in my universe besides hockey. For example, I now know the definition of the word “cheugy” – for my fellow olds, it means something is uncool – and am henceforth preparing an ice flow upon which my farmhouse-script “Live, Laugh, Yee-Haw” t-shirts and I will drift out into the irrelevant ether. So, yeah, I’ve got stuff going on.
However, the moment I realized my husband and his fellow dads were having too much fun at said party I thought, “Giddyup, here we go.” So…giddyup, here we go.
As a reminder, Kyle was one of the team’s co-managers, meaning it was his responsibility to plan the wrap-up party.
“Why don’t we go bowling or to supper?” I suggested in my role as the co-assistant to the team’s co-manager.
“Great idea,” Kyle said – and then, not one hour later,
“We’re going to have a father-son hockey game. Almost all of the dads can play, and the ones that can’t are going to coach and run the box.”
“Oh, okay,” I said. “Are you going to coach or run the box?”
“I’m going to play,” he said, pulling out a mountain of IcyHot packs for his bum ankle, bad back, and barely-healed broken elbow that he broke playing hockey not six months prior.
“Oh, okay,” I said. “The dads are going to lose that game, right?”
“Ha, yep,” Kyle said, avoiding eye contact.
“Because it’s for fun,” I said.
“Ha, yep,” Kyle said.
“And they are eleven,” I said.
“Yep,” he said.
“And you’re the grownups and they are your children,” I said.
“Yep,” he said.
On one of those David Attenborough-esque animal documentaries, a tiger was stalked and attacked by her cubs.
“The mother allows her babies to best her,” the narrator said, “in order to teach them important hunting skills.”
This “Ope, you got me!” parenting technique is practiced amongst 95% of the human moms I know, as well. It’s not for the faint of heart; it takes an immense amount of artistry and skill to purposefully lose a game of Candy Land to a four-year-old. One of my core childhood memories is racing against my mother in the pool, winning by half a mile as she flailed around as if she’d never seen water before.
“The lions are not as easy-going,” the narrator continued, “and frequently injure their cubs in the name of lifelong education.”
Another core childhood memory is the day that I finally beat my dad in a swimming race. I was a senior in high school.
Game day arrived. The dads had spent the week organizing their own jerseys, equipment, beverages, and stratagem. They had not spent the same time or effort on their own children, as evidenced by the fact that three moms had to go home to pick up forgotten equipment. I was one of those moms; thirty seconds before the puck was set to drop, Kyle casually skated up to the boards.
“Would you run back and get Eleven’s helmet?” He asked.
“You just realized he didn’t have a helmet?” I said.
Kyle blinked. “Yeah,” he said.
I returned to the rink midway through the first period. The score was 3-1 in favor of the Away team. As the dads were wearing white – typically reserved for the Home team – I smiled and waved at my husband as I walked up the bleachers to the other moms. All of the dads on the bench smiled and waved back.
The moms, on the other hand, were not smiling.
“I see this is going well,” I said as I sat down.
“No,” said one of the moms, as her husband scored a NHL-worthy goal on the kids. The scoreboard ticked 4-1.
“BOO!” I shouted.
“Hit him in the hamstring next time!” The wife of the scoring dad shouted to the children on the ice. “He’s old!”
The dads won 12-7. I did so much booing that I can no longer form the letter “O” with my lips. The dad’s score would have been much higher if not for the lone father who Candy Landed it every time he got the puck. Three of the kids’ goals came after the dads let all of the boys out on the ice for the final two minutes of play. Kyle himself scored with a slapshot on his own son – one of two children he has promised to love unconditionally and raise for the rest of his life – who was in the net as the goalie. Kyle celebrated big on the way back to bench, being careful not to look up into the stands at his wife.
“Did you have fun?” I asked my son after the game.
“Yes!” he said.
“I had fun, too,” Kyle said.
“Good for you,” I said.
“The dads from our team should play the dads of the other team!” Eleven said.
“Male lions will fight for territory and females, often to the death,” the narrator said.
“I don’t think we have enough health insurance for that,” I said, as Kyle rubbed his elbow.
The photo above was taken by my co-worker at the new Sacred Heart Martire Family Arena in Fairfield, Connecticut. This is Kyle training for the father-son game, which took place the following day.
Highway 91 now has a sign proclaiming it North Dakota’s shortest highway, as it takes 40 seconds at 25 mph to complete. (Grand Forks Herald)
The community of Oakes has spent the winter putting together a puzzle. (KFYR TV)
West Fargo High School’s Jenna Miller will be signing copies of her book at Barnes & Noble on March 18. (Fargo Forum)
Mandan High School’s Rustin Medewald was interviewed for the first time after being named MVP of a Super A State Basketball game, and he did the interview in ASL in honor of his parents. (KFYR TV)
Bottineau’s David Hoff has been named the 2022 Paralympic Coach of the Year by USA Hockey. (KX Net)
Are we newsletter friends yet?
Sign up for the weekly North Dakota Nice email and get this story and the news delivered to your inbox once a week (and never more than that).