Jack kicked the shit out of a social event yesterday. A couple of local high school hockey teams had a game that they made into a fundraiser for the super awesome Montgomery Cheetahs and we were all invited to hang out, eat pizza, and watch.
(Related: Remind me to tell you sometime about the super awesome Skate-a-thon fundraiser we’re having on May 12, which just happens to be Jack’s birthday. You are ALL invited—nay, EXPECTED—to attend. Mark your calendars now.)
Anywho. This game was at a skating arena, which seems obvious now that I’ve written that out, and the Cheetahs had the party room in which to hide from the crowds of hockey spectators. It was kinda like we were in the owners box. It rocked.
Usually at these types of events, which are crazy overstimulating and stressful for all of Team Stimey, Jack ends up madly spinning until I shove an iPad in his hands and force him to sit under a table or something. Meanwhile, Sam and Quinn find people to act insane with and run around until I lose it and start shouting.
It can be stressful. Add to that the fact that I want Jack to bond with his teammates, but don’t see it happening. Last year, at the hockey tournament we went to, I’m not entirely sure that Jack spoke to one other kid.
Well. Times are changing. That photo up there? I had to crop it that way so as to not include the other kids he was playing with—and because I wanted to show you that smile. It’s starting to click for him. He spent the evening talking to his best friend T, who also plays on the team, and playing tag with a gang of other kids. (He also spent some time confusing the teenager behind the counter at the snack bar, but that’s something else entirely.)
Last week, we were at a different event where there was another Cheetah in attendance. Jack didn’t recognize him, but once we told him that the kid was on the team, Jack worked really hard to talk to him and sit next to him. It was awesome.
THIS is what special hockey is about, people. Sure, it’s about the game and the pride and the exercise and the working together as a group and all, but this? This coming together as a team and feeling a connection with other kids because you’re part of the same group, the same thing? WANTING to play with other kids, who WANT to play back? Special motherfucking hockey people. That’s all I’m going to say.
I was so proud of Jack. Honestly, he could have given me lessons about how to manage a crowd. You know how sometimes you meet someone for the second time and you realize that you said just about the exact same things to them the second time around as the first, because apparently speaking to the other humans is too hard? Yeah, that. (Hi, Rachel!)
It’s taken me a while to realize that these overstimulating events don’t just affect my kids, they affect me too, rendering me sort of incapable of managing my children or holding up my end of a conversation without wild hand gesturing and furtive glances around the room on my part.
Sam and Quinn, my social butterflies, sort of sat this one out, which was weird because this is usually the exact type of situation in which they tend to run all over the place, making me freak out entirely. Instead, they sat on the ground and played chess on my iPad.
Thank God for small favors.
Near the end of the evening, I was packing up our stuff when I noticed Jack was no longer in the room. I scooped up our stuff and herded Sam and Quinn out of the room and past a semi-frantic dad who had just located his child who had done the same thing Jack was in the process of doing, which was disappearing entirely.
We found Jack just as the game buzzer rang and people started bolting from the packed arena. At this point, I started shoving my kids out of the building in order to avoid parking lot gridlock. It turns out that Jack had picked a really opportune time to wander off close to the exit. Good on him.
I’m going to give Team Stimey a thumbs up for this outing. Jack may even get an extra fist bump. And the Cheetahs get my eternal love.