Oh my goodness, it was a stressful weekend!
Flea was in Leeds, playing in a hockey tournament. She’s the goalkeeper for the county team, but actually played for three teams, because they were missing a couple of keepers.
By the time the playoff games started, five hours later, Flea was pale and exhausted. The final game was tight, ending in a 1-1 draw.
I swear to God, I almost had an aneurism when the first round of penalties ended with a draw, and the kids had to go to sudden death penalties. Flea did it, though. She was quite the hero, and celebrated by falling asleep within 5 minutes of getting in the car, and snoring all the way home.
It occurs to me now, as the veteran of a whole hockey season that there are certain Mums and Dads you’ll always see on the sideline.
The Super-Prepared Parent
I was so proud of myself this weekend, turning up for the tournament with two Subway sandwiches, a bottle of water and some cookies in my bag.
Yeah. That lasted about five seconds.
I walked into the pitches to see another Mum from Flea’s school putting up a tent. A TENT. I’m not even exaggerating.
The woman had a tent, with three blankets to wrap up the girls between games. Inside the cool bag she’d obviously brought was an entire box of M&S chocolate biscuits, a Thermos, sandwiches, fruit… they even brought CHAIRS. How did I not know to bring a chair?
I’m such a loser.
The Assistant Coach
I love how parents get so into their game that they start coaching their kids from the sideline. I swear I can feel the ice from the glare of the actual coach when it happens.
“Go deep!” “Move to the wing!” “Run it down the sideline!” “Sticks down!”
Possibly on some level, I’m just jealous. As Mum to the keeper, my encouraging banter is pretty much limited to, “Go save stuff!” (before a match) and “Good job!” or “Unlucky!” depending on whether she makes the save.
It’s Not the Winning, it’s the Taking Apart
One of my favourite things about the leagues Flea plays in is they’re really sportsmanlike.
As I’ve mentioned, they’ll share goalies, and if a match gets too uneven, I’ve seen them swap players between sides, or stop counting goals if someone’s getting hammered too badly.
Try telling the parents that, though!
I stand behind Flea’s goal, and I often find myself between parents from the opposing/attacking team. It’s kind of upsetting sometimes what these guys are wishing on my precious baby.
“Take her DOWN, Alicia!” one Dad screamed at his offspring as she took a shot at Flea’s face this weekend. Okay, she was probably aiming at the goal but that’s not what it feels like from where I’m standing…
Calm down, love. They’re kids.
My very favourite hockey parent is the encourager. We’ve all been at a match where the kids are getting massacred. And there’s nobody more creative than a parent trying to find something positive to say in the face of overwhelming defeat.
A couple of weeks ago, Flea was playing one of those matches where they stopped counting at 10-0. On the sideline was a Dad, with a baby strapped to his front, desperately trying to keep spirits up.
“Great form, Destiny!” he shouted as Destiny lost possession of the ball. Another ball in the back of the net: “Brilliant team spirit, Lara!” or “I love your determination, Gabby!”
I thought this guy was a HERO. Because there’s nothing worse in the world than seeing your child losing badly, and not being able to just scoop them up and take them home. You’ve just got to watch them go through it. So good on those Dads for being able to find the bright side of a massacre.
Last up is my favourite hockey parent. I’ve noticed already that the sporting parents very quickly form a social club.
Because – whisper it – sometimes watching little kids play sport for hours at a time is not THAT fascinating. And when it’s cold, it just makes sense to huddle together wherever you can find shelter.
It turns out most of the other hockey Mums are either parents from Flea’s old school, or her new school (they’re the two big hockey schools in the area). So this means I am now in the heart of Gossip Central. I’m not going to lie. It’s brilliant.
Thanks to hockey, I know which tennis pro to avoid because she sleeps with all the husbands (which will be super useful if I ever get around to joining the tennis club). I also know which kids aren’t invited to which parties (and why). I can get amazing holiday recommendations, know which hairdresser in town is doing good work… I swear to goodness, I was never this in the loop when I was just a playground Mum!
How about you, friends? Do you spend your weekends on the sporting sidelines? Does any of this ring a bell?