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Hello hockey!!!

May 5, 2009

I don’t know exactly how it all started,

it may have been about a boy (one that I worked with five years ago when he was in grade one and I was his teacher)…

But last Fall,

approximately last October,

a seed that had been planted sometime ago got some water,

some light,

and burst through the soil…

I was substituting as the handwork teacher for a local Waldorf school,

and while I was knitting under flourescent lights during half-time (recess),

a girl put a stack of books down beside me…

All the books were about hockey…

I asked her if she liked hockey…

She said,

These are my brother’s.

My mom asked me to return them to the library for him…

[I later learned that the brother had “left” the Waldorf school… I wondered about this as I noticed that all the t-shirts the kids wore said, “Waldorf Education… a philosophy of freedom”… what would a kid need to do to be kicked out of a philosophy of freedom… or why would a boy choose to leave… we all know that conceptions of freedom are relatively subjective…]

I didn’t give the stack of books another thought,

but remembered the planting of a seed…

When I was 15 I went on a summer language and culture exchange to Quebec City…

This would have been 1982…

I recall being in the foyer of some building,

waiting for an elevator,

and when the door opened Wayne Gretzky stepped out…

We had our photo taken together with my little Kodak Instamatic,

and then parted ways…

I didn’t see that as a sign of anything at the time,

and I never saw the photo because my camera somehow opened up,

and the film was over-exposed…

In 2003 I’d returned to my post as a grade one teacher after my second maternity leave and I was given a class with seventeen boys and seven girls,

adding up to a perfect number of twenty-four six year olds…

In this class of twenty-four was a boy who loved,

and still loves hockey…

Everyday my students write in their journals…

They have free rein to write about anything,

and this little guy always wrote about hockey…

He’d often come and sit beside me,

while his classmates had moved onto building with blocks,

in their daily Choice Time…

He’d tell me about the Hockey Night in Canada games he watched,

his favorite players,

and his special trips to the Garage for live action…

He told me,

Teacher, one day I’m going to play in the NHL…

and I believe him…

Because he loved hockey so much,

and this was one of our points of connection,

I started to learn about the game so that I could expand my participation in the conversation…

But then there was the lock out,

the Bertuzzi controversy etc….

My hockey boy eventually moved over  to the intermediate part of the school,

and my interest went on hiatus,

until the stack of books…

I was sitting there,

knitting away,

when something compelled me to drop my handwork and pick up the book on the top of the stack…

I opened the book up somewhere in the centre to page about Wayne Gretzky…

The first words I read were something like,

Wayne had this ability to see things before they happened…

He always knew where the puck was going to go and made sure he was there…

He knew when his team was going to win even when they were losing well into the third period,

and it looked like there was no hope…

He’d tell his team, Don’t worry we’re going to win this one…

and they would…

His father coached him as a boy,

saying things like…

Don’t go where the puck is…

Go where it’s going to be…

A lightning bolt struck me in that rocking chair,

and I heard a voice in my head say,

Pay attention…

This is going to go somewhere…

Those one track minds that took you for a working boy...


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