Bad Auntie (or, The Day I Almost Ruined My Nephew’s Hockey Career)

Yesterday, I made my first-ever trip out to the Kettler Capitals Iceplex, the rink out in Ballston where my Washington Capitals practice. I was not, as you might suspect, heading out to stalk get an up-close view of the players (though I wouldn’t have complained if that had come to pass), but rather to go ice skating with Jen and D, my sister-in-law and older nephew. D has decided that he wants to play Mites on Ice hockey  at a Caps game, but there’s a glitch in his plan — he doesn’t know how to skate.  Yesterday’s trip was his second time out on the ice, and Jen invited me to join them.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I am going to come out right here and say I am a terrible ice skater. I always have been, even when I skated semi-regularly as a kid, and having not been on the ice more than once or twice in a decade or so has done nothing to improve my skills.

You can see where this is going, can’t you?

Things went remarkably well for most of our visit — a spill here and there for D, but nothing he couldn’t handle. Jen and I went around with him most of the time, each of us holding a hand, but he’d also let go for short stretches every now and again. Towards the end, we decided to take some pictures, and that’s where things went off the rails. We slowed down for a moment to let Jen snap one last picture, and D wobbled and fell just as a group of people came around the corner. I couldn’t get out of the way fast enough, and skated over two of his (thankfully glove-covered) fingers on my way down to the ice.

I can’t say with certainty which one of us freaked out more. D was, without a doubt, louder, but I was just as upset. I mean, I skated over two of his tiny little fingers. I hurt one of the little guys I love more than anything in the world. And worse, I did it when he was trying out something new, something that he liked, something that he really wanted to do. I was afraid I’d instantly ruined ice skating for him — squashing his dream of playing Mites on Ice, and thereby denying him his future NHL career. I was heartbroken.

Fortunately, D ended up being a real trooper. After what felt like an eternity of sobbing, he started to calm down. (In reality, he wasn’t hurt all that badly;  one finger was bleeding a bit and both were clearly going to bruise, but they were definitely not broken.) Seeing an opening, I went straight for bribery, offering him chocolate milk in exchange for getting back out on the ice — knowing that it was critical that he skate at least a few minutes more so that he wouldn’t end up permanently afraid. He was reluctant, but eventually the lure of chocolate milk overwhelmed him, and we made one last circuit of the rink.

Once the skates were returned, while we waited for the customization on my Caps jersey to be finished, we sat in the snack bar and D had his reward. And thus, my status as a beloved auntie — as well as  D’s future as a hockey star  — was saved. Phew.

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12 thoughts on “Bad Auntie (or, The Day I Almost Ruined My Nephew’s Hockey Career)

  1. sprite October 5, 2009 / 3:04 pm

    I saw your tweet about this yesterday. I’m so glad everything turned out okay — for both of you!

  2. Susan October 5, 2009 / 5:34 pm

    I’ve also been reading the tweets…yesterday’s made me cringe…in solidarity. It’s amazing what short people manage to work through from the adults around them 🙂 Want me to share my “I dropped my baby” story now? It’ll make you look golden…

  3. Mom October 6, 2009 / 7:35 am

    I, too, saw the tweet and was afraid to call ‘lest I make you feel worse. Yes, Susan, we all have the “I dropped the baby” story — but you all made it 🙂 D will be fine and BESIDES hockey players have to have scars!!

  4. Sionna October 6, 2009 / 7:53 am

    I can pile on a “I shut my daughter’s hand in a door” story. I think I cried harder than she did.

    Welcome to the club Sarah!

  5. Common Loon October 6, 2009 / 1:08 pm

    Kids are much more forgiving (and quicker to forgive) than adults (THANK GOODNESS!), plus boys tend to get over stuff very very quickly and then wonder what the fuss is all about. His folks are probably thrilled: now when your nephew needs therapy down the road he will have someone to blame besides his folks 🙂 (so far, our kids just have their mom to blame for EVERYTHING).

    We could have your other nephews bring out their skates. D will be so busy chasing & dodging & laughing with all of them that he will hardly notice he’s already a mite! Real hockey players have tons of bruises and very few teeth (quote from one here, “see, me & Brent Burns are twins because we’re missing the same tooth”). Then we could arm everyone with their own stick – it’ll be GREAT!

  6. Mom October 6, 2009 / 10:29 pm

    MORE…. “D” is just so much his Dad!! His biggest hockey “problem” is going to be that he is toooooo small! Those pics bring back a whole lot of GREAT memories — do so wish we’d had digital cameras 🙂

  7. Eileen October 6, 2009 / 11:47 pm

    seriously, we must go skate “thanksgiving” weekend! and, auntie Eileen apparently got all the skating genes 🙂 (concussion not withstanding)

  8. Common Loon October 7, 2009 / 11:36 am

    I can’t see the pics, but think that D will feel very tall next to J – who also reminds me of your brother. All of his friends are at LEAST one head taller than him (more often one head and a whole neck). Fortunately, he is thus far well-liked and has an army of bigger friends that will stick up for him. He does not have a tall Dad so his growth spurt may never come.

  9. Sarah October 7, 2009 / 12:42 pm

    Thanks, all, for the support — and not, instead, mocking me and telling me I’m a terrible person. 🙂

    I agree that going skating during our pretend-Thanksgiving seems like a super-fun idea. (Just keep the children away from Bad Auntie Sarah.) I don’t think you need to pack the boys’ skates, though, CL. There are rentals at Kettler, which seems like a much simpler option than trying to figure out how to pack three pairs of ice skates.

    @ CL – I don’t know why you can’t see the pix in the slideshow, but here’s a direct link.

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