Walking in the Shadows
It was one of those situations where you don’t really think about what you are about to do until you actually do it. When I signed my son up for skating lessons, I did so under the pressured haze of our city’s crazy registration system. Other than being excited to share another of my favourite things with him, I hadn’t really considered all of the underlying factors.
When we arrived for his first lesson, something immediately struck me as odd. I hadn’t been to this rink in a while. It happened to be the same place where I got my start as a young skater and I had spent many very early mornings at this rink with my Dad as I traveled through the hockey ranks. The canteen here was also where I held my very first job and learned the art of slacking off.
The very first thing that hit me though, was the smell. It may sound ridiculous but anyone who has had any kind of positive experience inside a local hockey rink will tell you that it has a very specific smell. After a while you kind of forget it’s even there, but coming back to it after so many years I can only compare it to how people describe new car smell. I missed it and beamed a huge smile as the memories started flowing back.
We were told our dressing room number and made our way to the tunnel. I can remember the exact moment the next flash happened. Just as we passed the referee’s dressing room I got hit with a wave of memories all at once and actually had to stop for a minute to process it all. It’s no secret to anyone who reads this blog that I had a great father who passed away far too soon. And in that hallway I felt like I was remembering everything all at the same time. I remembered him carrying my bag down the hallway for me because it was too heavy or because I was too wimpy, tying my skates a little too tight for my liking and always buying me a slush puppie after the game. These are great memories and even though I miss my Dad every single day, I am blessed to have them.
As for my son’s skating experience, it was truly awesome. To see the determination in his eyes as he struggled to stay on his feet, reminded me of a young me, never giving up and always looking to do it better. I’d lost a little bit of that in the past few years but seeing it in my son reminded me how important having that determination is. I’m so proud to be his father and I’m lucky to have had the great parents I did growing up, because I know my children will benefit from that.
It’s pretty amazing how something so simple as skating lessons can bring on such a swell of emotions. In the end, I’m glad that it did because it reinforces how important it is as parents to create great memories for your kids. And as for the slush puppie, my son isn’t a huge fan yet, but we’ll get there.