girls can play hockey

A raccoon, sitting fatly on her matronly haunches, plucks tulip bulbs out of my planter with the delicacy of a fine French lady. She pops them into her mouth with succulent glee as though they were escargot tucked into a round silver server. First the white one, then the purple, then the orange. I wonder if they taste differently? “Hm, an early peach parrot imported from Holland, crisp and light. Hm, a late black swan, a hint of bitterness, satisfying crunch.” I don’t see her do this, but who else would leave the pot so tidy? Seeing the careful circular graves this morning, I decide to replace my beloved tulips with primulas and hope they don’t provide the salad course. My hyacinths are up and some fluttery purple perennial I planted last year on a whim and this year I am so glad. My street is lined with cherry blossoms and I thank them for being so glorious. This is why I live here. Yes. This is why I pay so much for a house.images

I’m off to be a supervisor for Nora’s class. They are going skating at Trout Lake rink with their handsome listless phys Ed teacher who plays hockey with the boys and three hearty girls (Nora being one of them) and he leaves the rest of the children to stutter and skitter over bright orange pushing cones. This is the gym teacher that gives every kid a “C”. This drives me crazy because gym is something my daughter excels at and yet it isn’t acknowledged at all. Everyone is homogenized in phys ed, but oh ho, not everyone is equal in math.

I am the only parent who has come to skate for the fourth year in a row because I am the only parent who can skate. Their teacher, a lovely lady who tip toes on toe pick, stiffly and terrified, clutching her purse, is the only other adult on the ice. I’m feeling pretty cocky actually. I can skate forwards AND I can skate backwards. I can do a half twirl AND I can stop. I can even do cross overs on the right leg (not the left, my knee is shot). I hear a boy say to Nora, “MAN your Mom is good!” If I was back in Alberta, I would be the laughing stock, and I know it. The gym teacher skates by me with a toque and rosy nose and says something flirty and incoherent, “Lookslikeyourighamyadobidada eh?” I nod back and smile and say ,”Yea!” But I have no idea what I’m agreeing to. It can’t be that bad. Everything is frozen and well covered up.

I show a kitty of Katlyns, Katies and Kylas how to do bubbles. One little Lillian pushes a chair in her lovely midnight blue crushed velvet pants and lifts a leg, shyly, teaching herself for a good half an hour how to do a pretty trick. I can see her dreamy smile. She is picturing herself in the Ice Capades. The boy who does not even try to play hockey starts by pushing a chair, gets embarrassed, starts skating and falling, gets embarrassed, so he decides to be the ice amoeba, contracting and extending his pseudopods, clinging to the legs of girls puttering by on their butter knives, making them shriek with delight. This isn’t entirely safe, but I don’t have the heart to stop him. The amoeba is the only status he’s got.

I turn my head just in time to see Nora intercept the puck, make a break away and score an awesome goal. Without even thinking I shout out in a deep jocular voice, “Way to put it in there!” A few of them stop to look, a little stunned, and I skate off as though it wasn’t me. But I see Nora’s cheeks are red and flushed, her helmet is down but her grin is up.

Time’s done and all the little penguins hop off the ice and onto the rubber mats and plunk themselves on benches, bending over their parkas to pull at their laces, forgetting that untying knots is hard to do with mitts on. They stick out their legs and cry “help, help!” I release half a dozen and break a nail, but I don’t care: today I get to be cool Mom.images-2

On our way home Nora says, “Maybe I’ll give up figure skating for hockey. Cuz girls can play it too.”

“Absolutely! The Canadian women’s hockey team wins all the time. Best in the world. It’s a great sport. Talk to Daddy.”

At home she finishes all her homework, practices her piano and makes a card for Gramma. Was it the hockey goal? She’s going for gold. She even tries the tomato I bake with the fish. I decide to treat us to one of my favourite movies as a child while we have some ice-cream: “The Cutting Edge”. Remember that old one? Unknown-1The lovely young bitchy Moira Kelly is a figure skater who ends up improbably partnering with a handsome ex-hockey bruiser, DB Sweeney, who is “man” enough to stand up to her belligerence. Why does this appeal to me? Oh, we all know why.

I have to stop the film right at the point where Moira accepts a marriage proposal from her stuff shirt boyfriend, and DB realizes he’s in love with her – “NO!” Cries Nora, “NO!” I chuckle, “Oh, he has to wait for the girl and so do you….we’ll watch the rest tomorrow.” She stomps off in a dramatic huff and then creeps back with a smile that smells like her teeth are brushed.

“You know, I’m serious about wanting to play hockey, Mom.” “I know. And I’m serious when I say, talk to your Dad.”

I tuck her into bed like I tucked the primulas into the earth. My little flower. I kiss her on the head and wonder how she’ll grow.

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  1. dannie


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