This past Saturday was like most of our Saturday mornings; it started with an early morning rise and the four of us heading to the rink. I’ve secretly longed for these mornings, even though I know that they mean the end to sleeping in for the foreseeable future. It pleases me greatly that both lils want to play hockey. Neither Willy nor I played much as children, but have both grown to love it as adults.
Goose skates first on these mornings, followed immediately by Woo’s age group. When she is finished, we either hang out and watch Woo, or find something to entertain us in the lobby. This week, we had just gotten into the lobby when one of the dads from Woo’s group passed by. He noted that she was in her long johns (which she wears under her gear) and told her, unprompted, that “real hockey players don’t play in their pajamas.”
Poor Goose’s reaction was telling. Her face fell, and all the joy and excitement that she derived from the hour on the ice was gone. I looked at him angrily and dismissively told him that she IS a REAL hockey player, then turned to face her and talk about the awesome hockey that she has been playing. It took a little bit of convincing, followed by a little bit of lobby hockey, but she moved on and was thankfully unaffected. The dad went away without another word, and I am somewhat glad. As restrained as I was, I had a few more choice words that were just itching to be said.
I’d like to think that it was just a stupid comment, made by someone that just didn’t think before he spoke, but that just gives him a pass that he doesn’t deserve. He may have been having a bad day, or trying to be funny, but that doesn’t matter. His comment belittled both her choice of clothes, and her identity as a hockey player. It was mean, especially to a child who is not quite five. I’d can’t help but think that he wouldn’t have said that to a little boy, as much I hate to think this is because she is a girl.
What he doesn’t know is that I have spent a lot of the last year convincing Goose that girls do play real hockey. She knew she loved to play with us at the house, but the only ice hockey that she saw, especially when we were in India, was NHL hockey. She was shocked when I started going to the rink last fall, as it never crossed her mind that any girls played. From there it took a work to get to the fact that little girls play. She was super excited to sign up, but is now one of a few girls in a mixed group of about sixty little people. She feels that she belongs here, and shouldn’t have anyone telling her otherwise.
In the end, Goose is still happy to be playing hockey and seems to have forgotten all about the comment. Several of my friends with older girls in hockey have offered to have them mentor Goose to ensure that she continue to see girls in hockey, something that I am very grateful of. I’m still irked and a little sad that he made the comment at all.