So, the Italian and the German want to play hockey next year. More specifically, they want to play roller hockey. We do live in the Sandhills of North Carolina, after all. Ponds crusted over with four inches of ice are in short supply.
In preparation for the spring municipal elementary-age roller hockey season, our boys have been working since summer to hone their roller blading skills. The Italian, by this point, glides effortlessly along, executing hairpin turns and managing slopes and rough terrain with uncharacteristic grace. The German hasn't yet let go of his fear of falling, so he plods along, one foot at a time, arms flung out like some creature from a low-budget 1970s roller disco zombie movie.
The biggest surprise is the Italian, normally, is the uncoordinated twin. He's skinny and strong, but also clumsy and impatient. Take swimming, for instance. The cherubic German slices through a pool with the mechanical consistency of a precision machine while his Italian brother barely makes half the progress as he flails at the water like it's challenged him to a no-rules death match.
My greatest concern about the two of them playing hockey isn't the threat of injury from flying pucks, high-sticking, or hot-headed opponents. It isn't even the smell from sweat-soaked socks, shirts, and assorted hockey equipment. What concerns me most is my lack of understanding about hockey.
Please allow me to drive that point home a little more emphatically: What concerns me most is my complete and absolute lack of knowledge about anything in any way related to hockey, or just about any sport ever invented by man or beast. If it involves teams, sides, competitiveness, a ball, a basket, a net, a stick, a bat, a horse, a jersey, or any combination of those items, I probably don't understand it and won't find any way to feign interest in it.
Unfortunately, I'm afraid my indifference toward sports has rubbed off on my sons. It's possible they are the only people in the world who know less and care less about sports than I. Not that we haven't tried to get them interested over the years.
We tried soccer when they were about five. Why soccer? I can't recall. Personally, I find it more exciting to count the hairs in my nose than to watch a soccer match. The boys seemed interested, at first, but after a few games we realized the German was more interested in wearing the little orange cones like a hat, and the Italian was more focused on chatting up the girls on the field of play than paying attention to the ball.
Baseball the next year wasn't much of an improvement, and neither was golf the year after that. Any interest they showed early on quickly waned. Not being a sporty kind of guy, I can't say that I was altogether disappointed.
But now they want to play hockey, a sport as comprehensible to me as quantum physics. With any luck, this phase will soon pass and I'll find myself sitting in their school auditorium watching them perform supporting roles in "Beauty and the Beast," or some other scaled-down version of an off-Broadway play with homemade costumes and paper mache backdrops. I understand paper mache and can stitch a mean hem, so these things make sense to me.
© 2011 Mark Feggeler