Last night was another ice hockey game for my nine year old daughter. The teams were more evenly matched than the typically are, so her team did fairly well holding the line for a while. Eventually, however, the combination of their few superior players and better teamwork, as well as the biggest bruiser of an elementary school student for a goalie I have ever seen, prevailed. Our team lost 5-2.
Seriously, this goalie was HUGE, and he would lunge out and drop his entire body onto the puck if it came within twenty feet of the goal. Our goalie is quite literally one-third the size of this kid. Our goalie is half the size of everyone else on our team, and the youngest. He’s only 7 years old and never played before, and in the first several games it would break my heart to watch him get pummeled with pucks, never stopping any because even if he lay across the net, he is not big enough to block the whole thing. But this kid has heart like you rarely see, and a loving and supportive dad who practices with him but obviously doesn’t humiliate or berate him ever. The kid just loves hockey and really wants to be the goalie. He has improved tremendously, and he blocks far more pucks than get in now. We all cheer louder than at any other time, parents and kids alike, when he blocks a goal. At the end of the games, our entire team skates over to this kid and pat him on the head saying “great job!” It is really quite uplifting!
But I digress. For last night’s game, my mother came along with me to cheer the kiddo on, so it was just the two of us. This was a treat, we got to talk and hang out one-on-one which we haven’t done in a little while. We started talking about various things, and a progression of topics led us to the discussion of kids and sex. And fear. I think it started with me talking about these 14-year-old girls I saw with my daughter and how really absolutely fucking painful it is for me to even be around them, because their pain is oozing off of their skin. I mean, I can see it! I made some comment to my daughter about how I am so glad I am not that age anymore, so of course she wanted to know why. I told her. She was concerned, but I said “You know what? You are a very well-rounded girl and have a lot of confidence. I think you are going to be one of those kids who make it through pretty well.”
In relating this story to my mother, I commented how I’ve always tried to be straight with her, albeit sometimes blunt. Then my mother, thinking of our little girlie being 14, started musing and worrying about all the sex the ‘kids’ seem to have earlier and earlier these days, and the drugs, and oh-my-god….etc. I told her that I’ve basically worked on the theory that if I am open and honest and straight with my daughter from the very beginning (which I have been), that she will hopefully know that she can always come to me for answers; that I will always tell her the truth. I figure this is my best hope for steering her away from bad decisions (like the oh-so-many I have made in my life).
My mother made the point that sometimes it might be OK to have the answer, “you don’t need to know that now” or “you are too young to know that”. This is a good point, yet I come back to the place of open communication, and wanting my child to know that when she comes to me with a question she will get an answer, not a dismissal or a postponement. So as a result, I suspect my kid knows far more about childbirth and sex than most kids her age know, and more than some kids may EVER know. Sometimes I do question myself, though. I think all parents question themselves along the way…how can we ever really know if we did things the best way? My parents were wonderful to me, treated me with respect and love all of my life, yet I ended up sexually promiscuous and a drug addict/alcoholic. I have never really thought for even a minute that I became that way because of something my parents did or didn’t do.
I worry of course about what things she may get into as she gets older, that she is genetically predispositioned to become an alcoholic. My gut tells me that being open and helping her be aware of my alcoholism and why I go to meetings, will ultimately help her even if she were to become mired in it at some point. Ideally I could spare her that hell, but I know that is an ideal.
What I wonder most is if my relationship with my daughter isn’t too ‘friendly’ sometimes (and I think perhaps it is sometimes), that maybe I let the line between mother and friend blur a bit too much. This seems to be a common phenomenon with single mothers, actually. When my kid and I are out to dinner and cracking up laughing, and then she comes over and snuggles to ‘mommy’, it seems like it just might all be working out.