Tuesday nights are rink nights. After hockey practice I untie Max’s skates and while he is undressing get in line at the grill at the rink to order our dinner. Its always the same–a piece of pizza and a red gatorade for him, chicken and fries and a small coke for me. And his friend D. is always right behind me with a $20 dollar bill and his order: two hot dogs, a coke and a venti skim cappuccino for his dad. He leaves a nice tip for the grill guys. I like that about this kid. I always let him cut me in line because I like that so much.
One by one the 9 and 10 year old boys piling in to the booth next time mine where I sit with my computer. Dads are allowed to hover nearby but this mom needs to stay at a bit of a distance at least one booth away. This is male territory. They laugh and tell stories and quote movies and run around turning the grill into a basketball arena. No one seems to care as these cubs tumble about. Everyone seems to acknowledge that these young men are the princes here. And when their dinner is finished they each dig for pocket change and head for the rink’s arcade.
It brings such heady joy, this ritual of ours. The air is thick with silly boy joy. I can’t help but smile, reveling in the simple sweetness even as I hang back–a witness. I bring my camera because I want to capture its sweetness, so that I can remember that this is our life. Our life is a string of moments like these–moments of connection and friendship and learning and laughter.
Our life is also tears in the locker room and homework not yet done. Its it chores and messy cars and spilled milk and a frantic desperate gymnastics to arrive at school and work on time. It is forgotten lunches and major disappointments and sick days when I have to do the conference call anyway and he thinks that means that I don’t want him with me at work. But it is a steady stream of nights like this when love is a piece of pizza and a handful of quarters and your buddies all around.
Hockey is now over. I started to write this post sometime in January I think when it felt as though that rhythm of our life would never end, when I was awakening to the joy that that slog to the rink and the late nights and early mornings offered. But it has ended. All things shift and so we are spending our Tuesdays doing homework and setting up tents and getting the laundry done. We spend our weekends cleaning up the house and the yard, getting ready for baseball and swimming, plotting sleepovers and catching up with our our life locally.
I wanted to hold onto the sweetness I discovered this winter so dearly. I spent many tortured minutes second guessing my decision not to put Max in spring league this year. I knew our schedule would not abide it but I wanted so badly to not let it go.
And that is precisely why I held firm. My resistance to letting the season shift and change is why I decided we wouldn’t. I needed to practice letting things evolve naturally. I knew that holding on so tightly would not serve. Pushing ourselves to keep it going–just to keep it going felt wrong and counter to the easy way that hockey unfolded for us this year. As hard as it was to let go of something beautiful I know I needed to just to give space for more sweetness to be born. I want to teach Max how goodness comes into our life and how we can’t grasp at it like sand but instead need to let it go, transform, develop–that goodness is abundant and will flow differently, never stopping but always changing, always changing.
Not going to the rink means I need to call those families that I loved and miss seeing and show up at their house to eat spicy red kidney beans and brown rice. It means plotting sleep overs and reunions at stick n pucks. It means sending pictures in the mail and yes it means piling into the car and heading to the rink with the boys to watch the dads’ game and to cheer loudly for the men who had become so dear. We can do that now that we have the time. Creating the open space opens doors to new goodness.