Sometimes it’s great to have a captive audience. Having had three kids in hockey meant I spent a great deal of time in the car—and therefore I had three kids in a confined space for several hours each week.
When carpooling with teammates, it was a little difficult to divert the conversation away from their favourite teenage topics and often I felt invisible as they chatted away. Occasionally someone in the car would suddenly realize that an adult human was actually present and would query: “You’re not going to tell my parents about this are you?” to which I merely raised an eyebrow in the rearview mirror. (“Well. If you don’t want me to maybe I shouldn't hear it because Lord knows what I’d say after three glasses of wine in front of sixteen parents in a cramped hotel room at our next hockey tournament.”)
More often than not, the hockey car rides provide an opportunity for peace and quiet as my teenagers plug in and tune out. I've got my coffee; I’ve got my tunes; he’s got his hot chocolate; he’s got his tunes. We’re all set! Once in a while, though, car rides to the hockey arena have allowed for some conversation gems.
On a four-hour trip from Ottawa to Toronto for a tournament, my oldest son spoke precisely six words to me. And what were these five words? “That was a really good book!” I had secretly download S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders audiobook onto his smartphone before leaving. Since my boys aren’t particularly avid readers (unless the reading material begins with “In sports news today…”), I am constantly looking for sneaky ways to talk “books” with them (because I love books!). This time, however, the joke was on me. I didn’t even realize they were studying this book at school, he was a little behind in his reading, and the audiobook had saved his tail for English class on Monday. I’ll have to remember this when it comes time to study high school Shakespeare!
And several years ago, on an entirely different Toronto tournament with one of my other offspring, I took my middle guy downtown Toronto to see King Tutenkamen on exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. I had somehow missed his transition from palaeontologist to full-blown Egyptologist, and instead of listening to Eminem or Skrillex all the way home, I got to listen to four hours of the life and times of Howard Carter and the various conspiracy theories surrounding King Tut's death. And then he didn't have the decency to laugh at my attempt at a Steve Martin King Tut impression.
More recently, on our car ride home from a Cornwall tournament, my daughter and I were singing out loud with Adele, Katy Perry (a little slack here please; her team nickname was The Fireworks, after all). Shortly after belting out a Carrie Underwood favourite, I asked her, "So, if a boy ever cheats on you, you're dumping him, right?" "Totally!" was her response, "and I'd also send him a harshly worded letter too". A harshly worded letter? I invited her to consider taking a more assertive approach and 'take a Louisville slugger to both headlights' or some other form of public ridicule, but she said "Wouldn't I get in trouble for that?" I told her perhaps that just this once it would be worth it.
Now my two older ones are driving themselves around, and my opportunities for quiet and confined conversation are fewer and fewer. Still, the carpool conversations are part of a hockey mom’s memories!
Three cheers for the home team—and the hockey mom that drives them there!
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