Last summer, my husband and I made a decision not to put our oldest daughter in hockey. Kids usually start around the age of five, and by August many of her Kindergarten friends were already enrolled in an all-girls league here in South Calgary. We were faced with a decision.
In the past, I’ve found it easy to say yes to piano, no to ballet, yes to swimming, no to gymnastics. We’ve dabbled in it all, but eventually my daughter’s true feelings of enjoyment or chore were revealed and we either stuck with it or moved on.
Hockey, however, seemed like an enormous commitment. We would be dedicating all weekends from September to March to rink time, volunteer time and travel throughout the city and beyond. Hockey would also monopolize our daughter’s availability for other programs, so likely no piano or Highland dance.
It also meant spending time apart. We’ve realized that it’s unrealistic for all five of us to attend everything together, all the time when the kids are still this young. We often adopt a ‘divide and conquer’ approach to the kids’ commitments, which would mean a lot of weekends spent separated.
The expense was intimidating, too. Almost all kids programs come with a cost, but hockey seemed to be a particularly high one, especially since we had no idea if this commitment would stick.
But all of that would have been manageable, and likely totally outweighed by all the potential benefits. My husband and I both played organized team sports and it shaped our lives for the better. Those were some of the best memories of my life and I’m so, so grateful for the experience. I want my daughters to have those experiences too. If they want it.
The truth was, our daughter just didn’t seem that interested. She felt hockey was “just for boys.”
Her best friend in Calgary, her cousins in Nova Scotia, many of her new classmates: all girls who play hockey.
Still, our daughter was unmoved.
I think (hope) my husband and I understand and respect our responsibility as parents, and as parents of young girls. I never want them to feel limited because of their gender, ever. So our daughter’s perspective on hockey made us panic.
Had we made her feel this way? What message does it send if we don’t put her in hockey? If we had a boy, would we put him in hockey, no questions asked?
I suppose that insisting that my daughter play hockey just to prove that girls can play hockey would be the same as insisting a son plays hockey just because boys should play hockey.
In the end, we decided not to enroll her this year, but we made sure she understood that not only can girls play hockey, they kick ass at hockey.
When the enrolment deadline passed, there was a part of me that was relieved that we didn’t have to surrender our money and our weekends.
There was also a part of me that felt a little guilty that our daughter wouldn’t have the same hockey experience as her friends.
And there was definitely a part of me that admitted we would likely have this entire hockey conversation again next year. And again, and again.