A New Hockey Friend

Now that Jack has mastered his bike, I guess it’s time to move on to something new!  Pat bought him roller blades on Sunday and he is doing pretty well with them.

A few weeks ago, Jack started playing street hockey with C, the boy next door.  He is 8 and just started in a hockey program at the local ice rink not too long ago.  One day he saw Jack out with his net and hockey stick and they have been playing street hockey since then.  C upped the ante last week though when he came out in roller blades.  I think Jack started asking for them after that, but it’s also possible that Pat may have been the one to suggest it to Jack.

Jack calls C his “hockey best friend.”  I heard him saying that across the cul-de-sac last week when they were trying to divide up into teams when there was a group of kids out that day.  Jack said, “I’m going to be on C’s team because he’s my hockey best friend.”  He doesn’t quite get that the two kids who play a lot of hockey probably should be on separate teams to make it even!

It’s been cute to watch Jack’s friendship blossom with C.  C came over last week to tell us when his next hockey game was in case we could get to it.  Then at church C came out in the aisle to wave to us, or Jack really.  After practice for the Christmas program, Jack walked out with C and then told me, “C and I were talking about when we’re going to play hockey next.”  It sounded so grown up – Jack was making plans with someone and I wasn’t needed.

This weekend, I let Jack go out in the cul-de-sac by himself and play with C all afternoon.  I kept an eye on them out the window.  They played hockey and then moved on to baseball and then Jack came in to get the pool noodle lightsabers and they had a pretty epic battle out there.  This is exactly the kind of neighborhood relationships I hoped my kids would make some day.  I want them to be able to be outside playing with all the other kids.

Jack now spends his afternoons asking me when C will be home so they can play hockey.  Today the poor kid waited 5 hours.  He was in his roller blades the whole time.  Occasionally he would skate around a little bit or play with Casey.  But mostly he sat on the curb, waiting.  Then C had to do his homework when he got home and finally…finally, he came out to play.  The sad part is after all that waiting they only  had about 30 minutes before it got dark.  I think they made the most of it though.

New Game in Town

Jenny (my sister-in-law) had Jack’s birthday present already wrapped up to give him this weekend.  She thought if he got bored we could open it a little early.  But, even though some of Chase and Charlotte’s toys might have been a little young for him, he still found them all fascinating.  They were all new to him so he took it upon himself to check out each and every toy and figure out how it worked.  There was no chance of getting bored, so we just brought the gift home with us.

While we were unpacking the car, Jack spotted the present and immediately wanted to open it.  It was already past his bedtime but we had been in the car for 3 hours and he had taken a nap and I didn’t feel like telling him he had to wait.  He opened the present and was immediately smitten.

It’s called Hockey Guys and it’s a portable hockey rink with all the “hockey guys” and Jack has been playing with it nonstop in his waking hours.  He’s created rules for the guys, sent them to the penalty box, cleared the ice for the zamboni, created benches for the extra players and really used his imagination.  At one point, he created a big archway for the players to come through as they were announced.  He also got upset when I called him to dinner because he was just about to play the “America song.”  At first, he even included Casey in his games.  Now she just likes to come in and knock as many players down in one swipe as she can.  

He also takes a few guys to bed with him.  Tonight, he called me back up to his room because he took the puck to bed with him and he had lost it.  He kept telling me he heard a clinking noise, so it must have fallen against the wall.  He thought it was somewhere at the foot of the bed and I kept asking him where exactly it was in his bed the last time he saw it.  I looked through sheets, blankets, Elmo, and a stuffed dog named Sid.  I looked for this puck for 5 minutes.  Then he said, “Oh, I think I left it in your room when I was reading stories with Daddy.”  When we found it in my room, he said, “Now we just need to figure out what made that clinking noise because I was sure it was my puck.”

What a great gift this has been and a breath of fresh air after the non-stop of Star Wars and Star Wars Legos in the last several months.  It is fun watching his imagination take off in different ways.  

Hitting the streets

Yesterday afternoon was kind of gloomy – looked like it might rain again. I figured we would play inside for the afternoon and I would start dinner early since it needed to cook in the oven for a while. However, our new friend stopped by to see if the kids wanted to play.

I think I’m going to call her the neighborhood social director. She is the 9 year old girl from across the street. We’ve been living here for over a year now and I’ve been watching her play with every kid in the neighborhood except for mine. She is always riding her bike around the block to see who is out playing. One street corner is practically a gold mine for her – 8 kids in one house. I’ve seen her there a lot and even at the house behind us. But never at our house.
A few weeks ago, she finally stopped by our house to meet our kids and play with them. I was starting to feel a little left out. Strangely, she decided to stop by when Pat was out in the yard playing with them. He came in the house to let me know that the kids had a new friend.
So yesterday the social director stopped by to see if Jack and Casey could come out to play. Which means that Mommy needs to go out and play. I would be comfortable if Jack went out to play with her by himself, but Casey is a full time job. She has a renewed affinity for the street. She realized that the slope at the bottom of our driveway is a lot of fun to ride down on her tricycle. So into the street she goes. Then she likes to drive over to the corner and play around on the curb and slope there. While I would prefer that she play in the driveway, there is a benefit to living between two cul-de-sacs. I keep my eye on her and down the street for cars but I let her play.
Luckily, it was warmer outside than I thought. The social director told us that she was going to get the kids from next door and bring them to our house to play in the driveway. She brought them over and also brought their soccer ball and net. They had never been to our house to play…they are a little older and it just seemed like we were never outside at the same time they were.
Thus began Jack’s first experience with team sports. They divided into teams of two to play soccer – one goalie and one player per team. Jack was a little confused as to how to get the ball at first. He just wanted to take turns and didn’t understand he had to try to kick the ball past a defender. He also refused to be goalie for a few minutes but when threatened to go inside, he came around.
From soccer they moved onto golf. Since they were taking turns, Jack enjoyed the game. We have a little putting green and they were all trying to hit it in the hole.
Finally they moved on to hockey and this is where Jack really shined. He had already kind of figured out how to play the game with other kids and he really had a great time trying to get the puck into the goal and playing goalie. And as his proud mother, I thought he did a great job as a goalie considering he was playing against a 4 year old, a 5 year old and a 9 year old.
I didn’t really mean to turn this into such a long story, but the overall point of it was that I felt like I watched him grow up before my eyes in that hour. He went from begging Mommy & Daddy to play hockey in the house to playing street hockey with the neighborhood kids. And I had a little vision of what it will be like in a couple of years when he and Casey are just out playing in the cul-de-sac with the other kids while I make dinner. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that when you’re putting the shoes back on Casey’s feet for the 5th time (because it really wasn’t that warm out) or chasing her down the street for the 15th time. The apple-rum pork chops never made it into the oven, but I had a lot better time watching my kids make new friends and new memories.