When my son first joined the hockey league this year I was fraught with worry about the sorts of things that go down in these organized activities. A small part of why we learn at home together is to avoid the sorts of behaviors that are a necessity for children trying to survive in a peer culture. So, when my son first hit the ice and I was sitting in the stands watching, I could have vomited. I saw him on the sidelines watching. I saw the other kids avoiding him. I saw them not pick him. I saw them buddy up and leave him out. I was texting my husband about my heart break for him. How I was certain this was destroying him inside. I was angry, I was sad, I was ready to pull him off the ice tell him how awesome he was, head home and never look back. My husband said “it might not be like that for him.” What? How dare he, he was all the way at the office, no where near seeing what I was seeing. I was right about this.

Practice ended and I had my pep talks ready. I wad rehearsed how I would explain to him about the need to fit in that sometimes drives others and about how it was more important to love yourself then have others like you blah blah blah. He took off his mask and smiled. “That was hard work but I had fun. When do I get to come back to the rink next?”

Reality check. All that fear was my own shit! And I came dangerously close to putting it on my son. If I had opened my mouth before my ears and poured out my own drama, I could have done some serious damage. Turns out he didn’t see any of what my mind saw. He was happy to be at the back of the line cause it gave him more time to figure out how to do the drill properly. He wasn’t looking to talk to anyone on the ice cause he was there to learn and practice not to chit chat. And his sense of self worth wasn’t even on the table.

Phew that was close. The majority of hockey season was a harsh reality check for me. Because my boys are learning in a less traditional way, I have not had to face some of my own school stuff head on. I knew from early on the learning path was the way for us and I cleared that with myself but I guess there was still some little bits of social anxiety lurking. Hockey brought it all to the surface full on.

I learned, literally at the first practice, to listen more and talk less. Sometimes he would come off the ice and have some steam to blow off. I didn’t need to fix it or change it or give it my spin, I just needed to sit with what he had to say. To hear it. And then ask if any input of mine was required. Mostly after that question I did a lot of tongue biting. But it was so worth it because it gave my son the room and the freedom to have his own unique to him experience without my lens distorting anything.

If I had to pick the most challenging part of parenting in a connected way with my children it would have to be the part of doing my own work. My children are rock stars at bringing up stuff in me that I had managed to keep dormant for years upon years. There it is green eyed and all staring me down, “what ya gonna do now?” I know, for me, the easier route always included stuffing that fool back down deeper and reacting in that old patterned sort of way. Though it quickly become obvious to me that shutting my own mouth, digging deep in to the issues and releasing them was the route that lead to the sort of relationship I wanted to have with my children. Yep, slogging through my own issues in hopes of not passing those stories on to my children. Hard, heart heavy work, indeed. But when my son can come off the ice happy with his progress, measuring himself only against yesterdays abilities, I know without a doubt it was worth every tear drop.