A huge life change occurred this past weekend and I foolishly didn’t see it coming. On Sunday afternoon I was driving to an ice rink, as I often do, to watch my younger nephew Colton play hockey. My train of thought drifted to all the changes coming in his life as he prepares to finish high school, start college and end his hockey career. Wow, I am driving to his last game.
Wait, wha…?. His last game? MY last game as a hockey aunt? How is that possible?
Hockey has been a big part of my life since my nephews came on the scene. Sure I was brought up around the game – I do live in Canada – and my older brother played for awhile but I never really liked it until the little ones got into it. Garrett and Colton started skating at 3 and playing hockey at 5. Now they’re a couple of weeks away from being 20 and 18! Suddenly after 16 great years, my stint as hockey aunty is up. Dang!
It’s been an amazing gift watching these guys play, gain confidence and learn teamwork. I’ve seen them develop so many life skills through their sport and have nearly burst with pride over and over again. They share a similar style, both play left defence and have a wicked slap shot from the blue line. I love how Garrett wore #11 and Colton is #22. But what I’d really like to share is my list of confessions developed over the past 16 years and hundreds(?) of games as a hockey aunty:
- I don’t actually know the rules. I have a solid grasp of off-side and icing but the rest elude me. Sometimes you can put your stick up in the air, sometimes not. Fighting can get you a 2 minute penalty or 4 or 5? It’s confusing!
- I own a team jacket. It seemed like such a show of support at the time. Then the boys changed clubs and it became totally inappropriate. I think I wore it twice.
- Hockey encourages drinking, especially when your kids are in their teens and on fast-paced rep teams. When Garrett got to the stage where hitting was part of the games, I started holding my breath and having heart palpitations. I looked over at my brother, their Dad, and asked how he was remaining so calm. Bailey’s in the coffee mug. I glanced at my also calm sister-in-law. Amaretto in the tea. I got onto Frangelico for my game day coffee. We all vowed to go to rehab as soon as the season was over.
- It is a much better gig to be the hockey aunt than the hockey parent. Obviously I was not financially responsible for the registration, gear or travel expenses. I never did a concession shift and no early morning practices for me. Also, it’s far more acceptable, even endearing for the aunty to cheer her lungs out and leap up out of her seat at every goal than for the parent. I took this one to its limit with no shame whatsoever.
- Being a hockey spectator is a truly reasonable justification for any and all warm purchases. These include, but are not limited to: down jackets, cute scarves, hats, mittens, blankets, boots, socks, travel mugs and my personal fave, cashmere sweaters. You have to be warm.
- I only broke down and admitted I needed distance glasses when I could no longer see the puck and the numbers on player jerseys. Number 6, or was that 8? I had to cave.
- Lastly, I am going to miss it more than I can say. Thank you Colton and Garrett for making me the proudest hockey aunty on the planet! I have loved every minute of watching you play and become the athletes you are today. You amaze me!
Now does anyone have a young child I could perhaps foster and become a surrogate hockey aunt all over again? I already have the jacket!