It's not too many times that the smaller family members can catch me off my game. But I certainly didn't expect the dinner conversation of about a month ago.
"I've decided I'm not playing hockey this year," announced First Born Son.
What makes this more than just a passing comment is that a) he's played for the past five years and loved every minute of it; b) he's the goalie - a position he fought for; and c) his hockey is paid for the 2009-2010 Season.
I've learned that the best way to handle large sweeping declarations is not to offer too much reaction. So after I digested the information, I asked him what he planned to do for a Winter activity.
"I'm going to downhill skiing!" he stated proudly. (Let's keep in mind that the young man has NEVER skiied downhill before.)
There had been a hint of this last year - but last year was truly an anomaly. Nothing like a combination of bullying from peers, a deteriorating self image and a brutal coach to snowball into the worst year of minor hockey EVER.
The Big Guy and I promised we wouldn't force either of our children into playing hockey. It's far too expensive a sport to put a gun to their heads. This came back to haunt us with Second Born Son, but that's another story for another time.
So we gave FBS a month to think about it. A couple of friends involved with the local hockey association sat down and pointed out the obvious, he will miss out on the social activities that his friends take part in. He won't be able to go skiing every weekend as the cost involved in THAT sport are as much if not more than hockey. He won't be able to take his friends skiing because they will still be involved with their team sport.
As much as we showed him the negative, we encouraged him to make the decision that was right for him. We didn't want him to quit because of last year's antics. When he mentioned he thought hockey was too expensive, we shot down the argument - stating we had no issue with paying for this activity. We said we would support whatever he decided to do. The Big Guy and I were convinced he would decide late, but in the end, he would return to the net. We even suggested that he take a year out of the crease and try playing out.
Just before bed tonight he informed his father and I that he has decided he is not going to play hockey. Granted, there are a couple of weeks before the rubber hits the road, but mark my words, it's going to be one hell of a long winter for this young man!