My Son Isn’t Interested in Skating or Hockey. I Don’t Give AF!

I’m proud to be Canadian. But can I call myself a proud Canadian parent if my 7-year-old son, Holt, doesn’t learn to skate or play hockey, and if I don’t push it? There is this sweeping generalization, after all, that Canadians are known mainly for three things; maple syrup, politeness, and hockey.

Another sweeping generalization is that parents, especially parents of boys (in my opinion), think that their kids need to learn how to skate, then how to play hockey, or, at the very least they want their offspring to be interested in watching the home team and understanding the rules of hockey.

I don’t give AF that my son’s interest level in hockey is akin to his interest in going on a 20-hour car ride without his iPad.

Personally, I feel pressure, not from one person specifically, just an overall societal pressure, that my son should be skating by now, and that I should sign him up for a six-week hockey program since many of his friends started skating 4 years ago when they were three! Now some of them are starting to join hockey teams. Like I said, it’s just my feeling that many Canadian parents believe their child should at least learn to skate and understand hockey. Well, my 7-year-old has absolutely no interest in skating or in even watching a hockey game, even from the comfort at home in my bed.

So, I’m going to come out and say it. I’m not forcing my son to learn to skate. I’m not forcing him to learn to play hockey either. I have no plans to sign him up for skating lessons. I’m not signing him up for hockey either.

Honestly, the only downfall of me not forcing my son, or my son’s not wanting to learn to skate or to play hockey, is that there is a high likelihood that many, but not all, of his little buddies will or have learned to play, and he won’t be able to join in, even recreationally. And maybe there will be hockey or skating birthday parties and he’ll feel left out. Other than that? I couldn’t give AF if he never plays hockey.

Just because I’m Canadian, why should I feel passionate about getting my kid into hockey, when – and no offence to hockey players and hockey moms everywhere – these days there are so many other cool team sports to join and other physical activities for our kids to be passionate about. It’s sort of how I feel about learning French in schools. Yes, I know it’s our second language, but, personally, I would rather my children learn Mandarin, the most popular language in the world, because I think it would be more useful in their adult lives than French will ever be. But that’s just me. I’ve turned out okay not speaking fluent French. I understand, thank you Air Canada, to not get up when the red lights go on, the only time I’ve ever had to understand French in my entire adult life, being on an airplane.

At present, my son takes flag football and basketball. Last year, he took badminton lessons and Tai Kwon Doe. He loves badminton and was meh about Tai Kwon do, so we stopped that. I do believe that kids need to do some physical activity or join some team sports, to learn how to get along, to learn to have each others back, to learn how to be a good loser, to learn how to be an awesome winner, to learn you can’t bail because you’ve made a commitment, to meet new friends, and, obviously, because it’s healthy (and, obviously, because they fall asleep faster on the days they do said physical activities.)

My son has been obsessed with football since he was two, can name every team, every player, and loves to watch almost every football game on television, as well as playing football on his Xbox. He has watched so much football, not just on television, but YouTube videos as well, that he completely understands the lingo, and, quite frankly, he truly shines when he plays flag football, the closest we could find for his age, to an actual football team, where they tackle each other and need actual equipment, which I’m not even sure is available in Canada, at least for his age. I don’t have any football mommy friends, as I would if I lived in America, that’s for sure.

Quite frankly, I truly enjoy watching my 7-year-old throw or catch a football, and run around doing football drills, because guess what? He’s completely into it and, (warning, brag alert!) he shows great talent at flag football, even impressing the coaches. He’s signed up for basketball, which begins in a couple of weeks, another sport he’ll play for hours in my backyard every single day. I don’t know any basketball mothers. And I don’t know any badminton mothers either, and my son also excelled in that sport. So why wouldn’t I be passionate about his passions?

But am I failing, especially being Canadian, signing my son up for badminton, flag football and basketball, instead of hockey? Should I, at the very least, make him learn to skate, and know the rules of hockey, at least recreationally? Can my son really grow up never having learned to skate or play hockey and still be a-okay as an adult?

Yes, I truly think so. I haven’t even tried on a pair of skates in more than 20 years, and no, it hasn’t affected my life at all.

As Canadian parents, we’ve all been led to believe that hockey is part of our cultural identity, as seen in this article, which says, “In Canada, there is nothing above hockey. It adorns our currency and occupies countless thoughts and conversations year-round. Often, hockey is the cultural benchmark that Canadians use to define themselves.”

So if hockey is how both me and my son should be defining ourselves, then we’re both going to need to do a lot of self-reflection, because, who are we if  I’m a Canadian mom who doesn’t think it’s necessary for my son to play hockey, especially since he’s so, so not into it? I’m quite certain my son could get through life, without playing hockey.

Still, I also just learned, apparently, my 7-year-old son isn’t a “Good Canadian Kid,” and will never be “Good Canadian Kid,” if he isn’t, hasn’t tried, or is totally ambivalent, about hockey. “Good Canadian Kid” is an expression used almost exclusively to describe a tough hockey player, and it is something that is a constant source of pride to fans of the sport nationwide,” the article explains. Shit.

But I think I’m okay with my son not being a Good Canadian Kid. My daughter learned to skate when she was 14, thanks to a few private lessons at an indoor rink, all year round, and I only know the rules of hockey after she was on a hockey team, the lowest level in hockey teams, and I would have to watch her every weekend. She basically made the hockey team simply because everyone who tried out made the team if they got their application form on in time. My daughter’s passion for hockey lasted for two seasons. She decided to stop, just when she actually going from the worst player on the team to maybe being the third-worst player on the team. Why? She suddenly became very passionate about water polo (!) which actually is quite serious. My daughter went through a four-day try-out to make the water polo team, a sport that I knew nothing about, except it takes place in water. Do I know any water polo mothers personally? Heck no! But, water polo is an aggressive sport to watch, like hockey, and I love it!

I thought I found a likeminded mother in this article, entitled “Does Every Canadian Kid Need To Learn To Skate And Play Hockey,” where the author, and her husband who plays recreational hockey, wondered why their son showed little interest in being on the ice. The author says they were “baffled,” by their son’s lack of interest in hockey and went on to ask for advice from friends and family as to what to do about their non-hockey loving son, because obviously, this was seriously something to worry about, like getting the measles. (Yes, I’m being sarcastic.)

But seriously? Baffled? Is it really that “baffling” that some kids don’t like hockey? I’m kind of baffled by this author being baffled their son wasn’t into hockey and I’m also baffled that this mother “fretted” over this. You know what’s baffling to me? My children, who like to burp into each other’s faces, that’s what. But I guess all of us moms can be baffled by different things.

The author says, “Neither one showed much interest, but we pushed on because we believed skating to be a skill that they would be thankful for when they were older.” Meh. I don’t believe in pushing your kid to do an activity unless you’ve already paid for it, and even then, after those six weeks are over, I wouldn’t push my kid to do any sport they had no interest in.

I’m certainly not dissing hockey at all. I enjoy watching games at home, have access to season tickets, and, yes, if we make it to the playoffs, I’ll  be all like, “Go Leafs Go!” Unlike, let’s say, swimming, which I believe all kids should learn, because of safety being around water, I don’t think, these days, that just because we’re Canadian, our kids should be forced to learn a sport they don’t give a shit about. Flag football? So cool! Water polo? Who knew? Badminton? Wonderful! Tap dancing? Why not? My point being, does it really matter if your kid doesn’t know how to play hockey, especially when there are so many other fun and unique team sports nowadays?

And, hey, my son is (mostly) polite, and he likes maple syrup, so he does have 2/3 Canadian traits. I’m okay with that. My son, I’m sure, will be too.





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