Tuesday, March 13, 2012

In My House We Don't Pay You to Have Fun

If one more person asks me how much I pay my son for a goal I think I might just scream.

Pay him for a goal, are your freaking serious? Have you seen the price of hockey registration? Heck, have you seen the price of gas? I've paid enough already for this boy to play hockey! Beyond the debit card ca'ching that goes on to get him into and to the games I have also paid with my Sunday morning sleep deprivation. I am not about to start shelling out five bucks a goal.

Frankly I am amazed that anyone would subscribe to the practice of paying their kids to play in the first place and I am offended quite openly by the number of parents who automaticly assume that my son is good on the ice because I pay him to be. Anybody who thinks that would work, please... raise your hand. Now put your hand down and leave the room.

My son does play very well. We have done one year of hockey fundamentals where he learned to skate and hold a stick and stop without smashing into the boards. We spent a season in ball hockey where his most spectacular goal was a slow motion roll in from the far end of the rink that should very well have been called for icing. This is his first year of ice hockey and he has excelled. Yes, he leads the league in assists. Yes, he has more than a hat trick of hat tricks. Yes, he sits in the top three goal scorers. Yes, he loves the game.

He eats, sleeps and breaths hockey. There are games on tv, games in the street, mini stick games in the basement. I have to pull him in off the street for dinner and glue him to the chair to keep him there long enough to eat. He is the first one in the van on game day and he wakes us up for practice on Sunday mornings. On the way to the arena I can hear him in the backseat singing along to the “hockey play-list” he has created on his Ipod. He warms up at home before his games, he makes himself a protein breakfast and requests pasta lunches.

Yes, he loves the game, he has fun out there on the ice that is what makes him a good player.

If the day ever arrived that I felt compelled to pay him for his performance that would be the very last day he plays hockey.

The question “how much do you pay him for a goal” makes me furious and I wonder how many kids are out there on the ice because they want to be and how many are out their because their parents want them to be the next big star?

Hey, I have an idea if you really want your kids to be stars and you think money will do that why not stop paying them for goals and start paying them for sportsmanship. How about a buck for every fist-bump or pass to a player who doesn't get many shots. Maybe a purple slurpee for knocking the goalie on the shoulder after a rough game and praising all out effort. How about five bucks for yelling a “thanks coach” on the way out of the dressing room.

Maybe, if you did that, in 20 years the stands will be filled with awesome hockey parents.

Gratitude to the parents who have not asked how much we pay our kid to play, the ones who stop him and say great game and who recognize that he's just having a good time. Gratitude as well to my friend who suggested that she pays her son to be the first one out of the dressing room after a game – now there is an idea I would contribute a buck to!

Hope, Gratitude and Smiles are meant to be shared