My youngest child shares a name with the American Hockey League’s championship trophy (although he was not named for that reason). His hair is an incredible mix of Hulk Hogan and Wayne Gretzky. He is as OG as it gets for a 3 year old.
As you can imagine, he sort of loves hockey. (Seriously, check out that photo to the right and try to tell me you’re not looking at a member of the Future Hockey Bros of America.)
While we are definitely a sports household, this next sentence feels a bit awkward. …
Hockey has never been a priority in my life.
Not that I don’t enjoy the game, it’s just never really appeared on my primary radar. But since Calder has decided that hockey is his life’s calling, it’s not unusual for the two of us to curl up on the couch and watch a random NHL Network game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild. When my OG wants hockey, we take what’s available.
So it seemed all too natural this winter to begin to take advantage of our proximity to the local AHL entrant, the Springfield Falcons. It’s local. It’s affordable. And it’s damn good hockey.
Thing is, as a dad who is trying to avoid raising boys who believe that aggression is a feasible option for conflict resolution, I was left in a bit of a bind when gloves were dropped and hay-makers traded. Yeah, I’m talking about hockey fights.
Hockey. Bleeping. Fights.
Those staples of the game that I love to love. The truest and manliest moment in one of the rawest team sports on the planet.
While my oldest son was elbow deep in his cotton candy and popcorn each time the fur started flying, my Calder seemed to have an innate ability to gaze lustily at the ice moments before — and for the entire duration — of each of the fights.
It was one part impressive, two parts disturbing, as he’d remain transfixed by the action until one of the combatants would fall to the ice.
Lookit, I know this makes me sound overly sensitive and super-new-agey, but the way he was staring at the ice really struck me as important. He was so invested in the moment and clearly internalizing what it was he was seeing. It was obvious I needed to contextualize this for him.
While my mind was racing to attempt to figure out how to put it all into perspective for him, it was Calder who served me a nice little saucer pass, tailor-made for a dad one-timer.
“Daddy, where are they taking those guys?” he asked, as the ref skated the dudes to the penalty box.
“Well, Calder, when you make a bad decision, you need to take a time out. And you have to stay there and watch while your friends keep playing without you.”
[Insert victory music here.]
“They have to watch?”
“They have to,” I responded gravely.
“That’s sad, daddy.”
“So sad. Now eat your cotton candy, son.”
I guess we’ll work on food choices later.