I can almost smell it.
It’s like that hint of dinner you get just before you walk in the door after a long day of work, except with probably a lot more falling and crying.
Hockey. I can almost smell hockey.
Not the professional kind–I’ve given up on them–but rather the homegrown kind. I’m talking about a backyard ice rink, because right now, ice skating with my oldest son is dominating my brain.
I tend to do the whole top (insert number) thing when thinking about aspects of my life. Top 20 movies, top 10 vacations, top 5 dad moments, etc… and ice skating with my 5-year-old this past month has definitely cracked my top 5 dad moments list. Hockey has always been a passion of mine, and while I never played formally, growing up my friends and I were definitely professional “pond rats.” Or “river rats” if it was cold enough that winter for such things.
As a kid, there was nothing quite like playing hours upon hours of pick-up hockey with my buddies, the result of which often required the losers to head over to a nearby deli for bagels and hot chocolate, while the winners got to sit back and bask in the glory of being able to put more pucks in between two logs than the other guys. Pure ecstasy.
Fast forward twenty five something years later, and here I am watching my oldest son learn to ice skate. Not only that, but now also skating with him.
Right now he attends a weekly clinic on Mondays with kids his age and on Sundays we do a free skate together at the same rink. Both days are equally amazing for me. On Mondays I get to see him doing his thing with his peers, along with his newly acquired competitive spirit that he picked up sometime this past spring, and on Sundays I get to share in the experience with him. The icing on the cake? The following Monday I can without a doubt see the improvement that comes from our time spent together on Sunday.
Bonding with my son while doing something we both love and helping him develop his skills at the same time? It’s almost too much for this dad to handle.
But I’m greedy. I want more. I want the 2-year-old on skates with no less than 4 pillows duct taped to his body and a full cage helmet with both myself and his older brother teaching him the tricks of the trade on our own backyard rink. I want my friends to bring their kids over and share in the experience as well.
Then, after we all have hours of fun and tire ourselves out to the point of exhaustion, we send the losers inside to start getting the bagels and hot chocolate ready. Just like old times.
Have any experience with building a backyard ice rink and the good times to follow? Please share your stories and any tips you might have learned along the way.