Josh on the Ice

My brother and his wife are in that stage of life when their kids’ activities inevitably overlap. Sometimes there are more places to be at one time than is physically possible.

Mark and I are in that stage of life when we often have nothing on our plates. My brother, realizing this about us, called a couple of weeks back to see if we might be able to help him out on a Friday night. Among his four kids, one had a hockey tournament in another city, one had a gymnastics meet at home, and the youngest had a hockey game in a nearby city. My brother would be accompanying his oldest son to the out-of-town tournament. His wife would be accompanying their daughter to her gymnastics meet. He wanted to know if Mark and I might help them out by taking their youngest, Josh to his hockey game last night.

It was an easy decision. We had nothing on our calendar and were free for the evening. Josh is my godson, so I have an extra soft-spot for him anyway. And he’s eight years old. Kids are cute at that age. Besides, hockey is one of the few sports our own kids didn’t play, so we thought it would be fun to go cheer on the little guy.

We picked up Josh after I got home from work and loaded him, his hockey sticks, and the big bag o’ hockey gear into the truck. The rink wasn’t all that far from home, but because of rush hour traffic, we gave ourselves an hour to get there. And as we expected, the drive was slow. Josh chatted from the back seat in that adorable way that little kids have of expressing themselves. Eight year-olds are honest. There’s not arrogance. They just tell it like it is.

“You guys are lucky to be coming to my game,” he announced as he watched the scenery pass out the window.

“We are,” we agreed. “We’re excited about seeing you play,” Mark said.

I was excited too,” Josh said in earnest. “I was counting the days.”

There was a little lull in the conversation before he picked up again.

“I’m a fast skater.”

“I heard that,” I said. “Your dad told me you’re pretty good.”

“I scored a goal at my last game. It was so fun! It was easy too. We beat that team like eleven to nothing. I like scoring goals. We’ll probably win our game tonight.”

The truck continued along the freeway and it was quiet again until Mark asked Josh about school. He rambled on about movie-reward day and how “some… a few … a handful” of his classmates hadn’t behaved during music class.

“The music teacher doesn’t yell at us,” he said.

“That’s good,” I said. “So how does she ask kids to behave?”

HE … claps his hands and just says, ‘Sit down, please.'”

I smiled at the not-so subtle way Josh had corrected my misconception of his music teacher’s gender.

“I think his throat must hurt,” Josh said about the teacher who doesn’t yell. “That’s why he doesn’t yell at us.”

I tried not to giggle.

Josh kept watching out the windows, asking periodically how long before we’d arrive. I assured him it wouldn’t be too much longer.

“Hey, look,” he shouted! His head was tilted upward as he watched the clouds in the sky. “It’s a frog!”

“Where,” I asked?

“Right there! See him? He’s holding a tea-cup in one hand and a shrimp in the other!”

I couldn’t see the frog in the clouds but pretended I did. I wished my imagination was still as unfettered as Josh’s.

We finally arrived at the hockey arena where young parents with young children hovered around, watching their kids play or helping them into or out of their hockey gear and socializing with each other. It occurred to me that it wasn’t so long ago that my days were dictated by my kids’ activities.It wasn’t so long ago that my social life included parents of the kids who were my kids’ teammates. But there I was, feeling older and somewhat like an outsider.

Mark went into the locker room with Josh and helped him tie up his skates. Then we found a place against the clearest spot I could find in the plexi-glass where I might snap some shots of Josh playing.

The game was fun. Those little kids are impressive the way they get around on their skates and manage to handle the puck. They also spend a lot of time tripping over one another, falling and getting back up again. I was impressed with their resolve. But no wonder Josh was tired by the time the game was done. We offered to take him out to a restaurant with us, but he was ready to go home and shower and slip into his pajamas.

Oh, and Josh was right. They did win! Two to nothing. Josh almost got a goal. We told him how we watched him get ready for the pass in front of the net. He was there. He was open. But the pass never came.

“He wanted to get his own goal,” Josh said of his teammate who had failed to pass the puck. There was no judgement in his opinion. Just fact.

Josh was quiet on the way home. It was clear that he was tired. He told us he hoped we’d come see another one of his games sometime and we assured him we’d try.

I helped him carry his stuff back into the house when we got him home and he gave me a big hug before I left.

It was fun spending time with Josh. I hope we do it again soon.

15 thoughts on “Josh on the Ice

  1. I loved this post! We are having our five-year-old and eight-year-old spend the night tonight. They are really excited, my husband is really excited and so am I. We’ll have great stories to relay as well. The are honest, sincere, sweet and FUNNY. Your godson sounds delightful!

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  2. I think when you talk to a young child after your own children have grown, you see and hear them differently. At least it’s that way for me. I often meet a friend of mine for lunch who has a 4 year old daughter that most times needs to come with her. I LOVE talking with her, and asking her questions, and REALLY listening to her responses. I enjoy just watching her as well – as she draws, or eats, or fiddles. When you’re the mom, you’re mind is often on all of your responsiblities, so you listen with only one ear, but as those responsibilites lessen, it’s much easier to appreciate the conversations and enjoy watching them express themselves.
    Fun post! I’m still smiling. :)

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  3. I hope I don’t sound like a broken record but I just love the way that you put these daily occurrences into real story form. And you really do have a knack for action photography.

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  4. I never played sports as a child. I’m hoping that when we have kids, they are interested in such things so I can go experience games like this.

    Congrats to Josh and the team on their win!

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  5. Life is totally different through the eyes of an 8 year old. I miss those days when kids were full of energy and life was a bit more innocent. I agree that, as parents, we were too close to the game/situation to really enjoy it without worrying about your kid. I guess that is why grandchildren are fun to have around (All the fun, none of the worry). I think it is great you supported him in his game. You’ve made a friend for life.

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  6. Awesome! “You guys are lucky to be coming to my game,” – love that.

    Yes, 8 years is a fun age. And you got some really great action shots – I know that not everyone has the ability to do that well. Wolfgang used to play roller hockey, I kind of miss going to those games.

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  7. Aw, Josh reminds me of my son at that age — so talkative and imaginative! What a wonderful experience you and your husband had in escorting him to his hockey game. You’re lucky to live so close to your godson, too!

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  8. What a good sister and godmother you are!! Sacrificing a Friday night to sit in traffic. I’ve heard that hockey is expensive for kids to play, but if we have a boy, we’re definitely going to encourage him to play hockey. It seems so fun!!

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  9. Definitely sounds like it was a fun night! Everytime I see pictures of kids playing hockey I think back to when I was a kid and my friends and I would go ice skating -on ponds formed from strip mining cuts! Hey! It was the best available thing then ya know. Anyway, one of the boys my age could barely walk without tripping over his own two feet, as he was very, very pigeon-toed but put a pair of ice skates on him, give him a stick to use as a hockey stick and watch him fly! Graceful as all get out! The same thing happened to him as we got older and he would get up to dance the polka with some girl. He was so light on his feet doing that dance too! But anything else in the mobility area and he was back to showing way the boys gave him the nickname back then of “Clumsy!” Thinking about that transformation in him though still makes me marvel.

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