My son Jasper (8) is growing up. He loves hard guitar music, is fearless on a snowboard and, last week, shocked his mother when he told her he liked how “some girls have shirts that show a bit of their belly.” I’m having trouble keeping up. And sometimes feel out of place. Like at his hockey games. A year ago he could barely skate. Then, suddenly, he is a sought-after goalie in Novice B. Other parents at games call him “fantastic.”
But I still feel out of place.
The thing is, I’ve never been a hockey fan. And a year into going to Jasper’s games, I still don’t really know what an off-side is. So now my problem is that every weekend I watch, powerless, as an entire front line flies down ice toward my micro-preemie son, determined to knock a frozen disc past his well-padded self. Aside from being paralyzed with fear, I’m literally at a loss for words. Because, as a non-hockey dad, I tend to yell all the wrong things.
As other parents around me clutch double-doubles and jump to their feet yelling something about creases or off sides or some kind of violation, I defer to plain language: “Really! Move your leg a little more to the left, son!”
When his team makes its move, what comes out is: “That’s it, go past that blue line there and then shoot!”
Or at a sudden turnabout just, “Oh my God! Do something. Stop!”
Luckily, my tepid instructions are lost in the frenzy. My biggest fear is that once I know the words I will be kicked out for being too vocal. Language is power.
I have a new favourite book. “Jamie’s dinners,” by Jamie Oliver was a Christmas gift from Suzy. She said she thought I would “like to cook dinner from time to time.” And I do. But my chicken-thighs-a-la-bottled-pasta-sauce is getting a bit tired. And Jamie’s my new hero because his recipes speak to me. Tonight I followed two of them. I love the simplicity of “Tender and crisp chicken legs with sweet tomatoes” (p. 222), and “Andy the Gasman’s beef stew” (page 246), both of which were prepared in my kitchen tonight. Who knew that rosemary sprigs and orange zest would set off a stew, or that cherry tomatoes and fresh basil could tie together a set of chicken legs with such big Yum? Yeah.
But I like Jamie because his recipes are simple and straightforward: “Use a snug-fitting pan… throw in a handful of basil … chuck in your tomatoes … squeeze out the pulp from the roasted garlic and toss it in with the skins!”
If I continue to cook, maybe I’ll find my hockey legs.