There are so many things that my kids have taught me. They have taught me about the intensity that is motherly love. They taught me that I hate homework even more when I’m the parent of the student. They also taught me that I would do pretty much anything for them, up to and including catching their vomit in my hands.
But if my three sons’ greatest collective gift to me is the gift of unconditional love, one of the coolest secondary gifts any of them gave me was the gift of hockey love.
It was less than a year ago that Jack, my middle son, took to the ice for his first hockey practice. I’m going to be honest with you here. At the time, I had never seen a hockey game, I couldn’t care less about the Capitals, and I didn’t even know how many players were allowed to be on the ice at one time. (Five plus a goalie, as it turns out.)
Somehow though, over the course of the next several months, as Jack learned to play and I stood rink side and watched, I started to love the game. In much the same way that football snuck up on me a decade ago, I started to notice the rhythm and the sounds of the game. I’m still not quite to the point of true Caps fandom or hockey obsession, but without making an effort, I find that I’m getting closer and closer.
It’s a strange thing to develop an allegiance to a sports team. I remember when it happened with my football team, which, for the record, is the Oakland Raiders. I remember first experiencing the joy of victory when my beloved team won and I remember the first time I felt true loss and sadness when the Raiders lost. Since that time, I have had many opportunities to explore that feeling of loss. It’s hard to be a Raiders fan.
It only seems fair that Jack is bringing me closer to a new team, because I lost football after my oldest son, Sam, was born. Well, I didn’t lose football, but my husband and I had season tickets for the Raiders and for some reason, he wasn’t okay with me taking our newborn son to the Raider Nation 50-yard-line.
I haven’t been to a professional football game since 2001. After I moved to the D.C. area, I tried and tried and tried to care about the Redskins or the Ravens, but I just can’t. Much as I want to, I just don’t care about them. I’m happy to find in hockey and the Caps a home team that makes my heart beat a little faster. I’ve been waiting for a long time to find that again.
It’s kind of cool to discover this whole new sport right next to Jack. That’s one of the other things that having kids has taught me: While it is great to discover new passions by yourself and it is great to pass your passions on to your child, it is somehow even better when you and your child discover one together.
Stimey writes a personal blog at Stimeyland; an autism-events website for Montgomery County, Maryland, at AutMont; and a column called Autism Unexpected in the Washington Times Communities. You can find her on Twitter as @Stimey.