On Wednesdays, Gal Smiley has skating after school.
It’s just for an hour but going to this lesson takes up my whole day. By the time we get home from the rink, the kids are hungry and there’s no time to cook, so I make dinner just after breakfast while all three kids are at school.
After picking up Little Miss Sunshine from kindergarten, we spend the afternoon packing for skating – one bag of skates, snowpants, hats, and mitts; one bag of colouring books, stickers, toys, and snacks for the Captain and the Little Miss. I fill the car with winter boots and coats for those of us who will be spectating.
I wish I could bring blankets too, because the rink is freezing, but it’s just too much cargo to schlep, even with all the kids helping. I’m a cold person and I spend the entire lesson shivering in the stands. It’s very un-Canadian of me to say that, isn’t it?
I don’t know how the other parents do it. This week, the mom next to me had bare feet in sandals, nothing but a trench coat on her back. On the other side, a group of parents chatted merrily wearing only spring-weight jackets, and farther down, one dad was wearing shorts. SHORTS.
Meanwhile I huddle in my heavy coat, mitts, scarf, hat, boots, and as many children as I can convince to pile on top of me for warmth, growing bitchier and bitchier by the minute. The fifty minute lesson feels like an excursion to the South Pole. How do hockey parents stand it? They must have secrets. TELL ME THE SECRETS.
Every Wednesday I wake up in dread. It’s Wednesday, I think. Rush to cook. Rush to pack. Rush to schlep. Freeze ass off. Rush home. Rush to squeeze in homework and baths and bedtime.
But it’s all worth it for that one moment when Gal Smiley steps out on the ice. Face shining with joy, determination, and concentration.
Oh, she’s down as much as she’s up, make no mistake. But she loves it. She comes off the ice with eyes gleaming, asking me if I saw her do this, then that, then this again. Cheeks pink, hair matted with sweat, chattier than at any other time with the thrill of it all.
It’s enough to warm a poor mother’s…heart.