Cold and Dark: The Life of a Hockey Taxi

Early morning at the rink

If it's 6:30 AM on Saturday, it must be time for hockey.

One moment, I’m dreaming of golf in a tropical paradise.  The next moment, the clock radio fills the room with awful classic rock as I wipe the sleep out of my eyes and grimace at the numbers 6:00 staring me in the face.  Stumbling through the pre-dawn darkness, I wake Sam from his slumber and hear him groan “unnngh…it’s too early.”  As he struggles to get upright and dressed, I stare into the bathroom mirror, trying to remind myself that deodorant goes under my arms and toothpaste goes on my toothbrush and not vice versa (yes, deodorant did find it’s way on to my toothbrush on one occasion).  In the other room, Sam groans again and expands his complaint to “unngh…it’s too early and too dark.”  Finally, I am dressed, he is dressed, and we shuffle out the door into the dim, frigid morning.  As he opens the car door, Sam revises the list of grievances one more time; “unnngh…it’s too early, too dark and too cold.”  It’s at this time that I remind Sam that the whole reason we are half asleep, in the dark and cold is that he is the one who chose hockey over warm, summery, afternoon sports like baseball.

Such is the weekend routine of a hockey parent/taxi.  At the beginning of the season, I started taking Sam to his hockey games as a way to spend more time together.  I figured it would be a good thing for him; a routine that he could look forward to every weekend, as well as a welcome break for his mother, who gets precious little time to relax as it is.  I didn’t really relish the idea of giving up the ability to sleep in on weekends, I’m not a fan of the cold, and driving to rinks around western Massachusetts and southern Vermont was never high on my “things to do this weekend” list.

Then a funny thing happened; after two weeks of really struggling with the early mornings, I started to enjoy the routine.  While the other hockey parents took any and all opportunity to complain about whatever twists of fate led them to 7:10 am faceoffs in towns an hour from home, it was plain to see that they enjoyed it, too.  And now, two weeks after the close of a very exciting, successful (league champs!) and rewarding season of Pee Wee hockey, I find myself missing the early mornings, the chats in the car on the way to the rink, the bad coffee, the even worse stink of sweaty (and possibly rotting) hockey gear.  I miss the camaraderie with the other parents/taxis, the unified chants of “Luuuuuuuuuuupi” as the incredibly talented goalie makes another crucial save, the catcalls of “who’s kid is that,” as one of the players is led off to the penalty box, the high fives all around when somebody scores.

It’s spring, the Masters is on TV and we’ve just had an incredible blast of summer weather, and yet I find myself eagerly looking forward to those December mornings that are too early, too dark, too cold, and too much damn fun.

~ by schlippo on April 9, 2010.

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