When my kid started playing hockey officially last fall, I felt lost. As in Lost in Space lost. I had no idea how to put the gear on the kid or lace up his skates worth a damn. The boy’s father and I took turns on “hockey Sundays” and we were pretty interchangeable in the locker room. There are Moms, Dads and sibs hanging out in the dressing room after games and practices. If you’ve ever played or have a kid on a team, you know the deal: Real estate is precious, you better have marked ALL the gear with a sharpie, you will get someone’s butt in your face at least once and you’ll see every kid on that team in his underpants many, many times.
Ethan has the boxer-brief Batman deals, Derek still has Bob the Builder and Cam has rockets. By the time this season was over, I swear I’ve seen more vienna-weenie than a banquet server. Just part of the contract. These little guys are babies. They can’t get that gear on by themselves or at least in any way that resembles a timely fashion.
My daughter, who is only a year older than our hockey player, is on a baton twirling team and has been since she was 3. At her contests, my husband and I are not interchangeable. One of the hockey Dads (and a very good friend of mine) and I were thinking about the locker room issue. There are Moms in the locker rooms all the time. Nobody gets bunched up about it. The boys are expected to get naked and be quick about it after hockey.
There are no Dads in the locker rooms at baton contests. It just doesn’t matter if you’re the Dad and Mom for the day or period, if you have a penis you better not be within a 3-foot radius of that dressing room. Attention, Men: You are assumed to be a greasy, lecherous- pig pedophile, even if you happen to be the father of one of the girls on the team. Even if she needs help. You better not be in that locker room.
*Right here is where I’d like to add that it is somewhat different, in that the locker rooms at baton contests could have girls from 3 to 18 in there…it’s the general issue I’m talking about. But even if every girl was a 4 or 5 year old, I still think we’d all have issues…
This is where my buddy and I were considering the quandary. Where is the difference? Why is it so drastic and a big no-no for a Dad to be in the dressing room, knee deep in sequins and hair-spray? That’s his KID. David and I agreed that any man would be ran out of the building with pitch-forks. One glance at My Little Pony panties on a 5 year old and he would have to put his eyes out with a pocket knife. The girls on my daughter’s team are at the mercy of kind hearted Moms when their own Mom can’t make the contests. Even if Dad is there.
For a lack of a better way to put it, it’s like the boys’ modesty or personal space doesn’t (or shouldn’t) matter that much. And no, I don’t have any answers. For about 3 weeks, Ethan was getting undressed in the lobby of the rink because I didn’t like how crowded the locker rooms were. Would I dare dress Shannon in a lobby right before contest? I’m just as guilty.
I thought of an interview last fall with one of the Blue Jackets after practice. In the background, you can see Marc Methot clearly looking both ways: Right, left then right again…then he pulls his pants off real fast. The camera just missed Marc sans pants by a smidge. All he was trying to do was get dressed. He had to do it with a crowd around, and cameras. ( He just didn’t look far enough right.) They’re expected to. And that’ s all professional athletes, not just NHLers. We don’t raise an eyebrow…
I guess we’re preparing our little players for more than just hockey.