One of my favourite things to do in the world, to this day, is to handle a hard orange hockey ball with a light stick with a huge curve on a smooth surface, and fire it a road hockey net. If there’s a goalie in net, I could do that for hours. I’m turning 30 in December, and I could literally do that from now until bedtime tonight if I could find a willing goalie. Especially if there’s a “Now” CD in the boombox, or even better “Jock Jams.”

The problem with the obsession that I had as a kid was that it cost my parents thousands upon thousands in property damage (quite literally). I just couldn’t help myself.

The off-season for ice hockey means one thing: road hockey season. It seems like a fitting time to write my parents an apology.

***

I’m sorry, Mom and Dad.

I’m sorry I put the road hockey net in front of the garage door so I didn’t have to chase that orange rock of a ball down the hill into the cul-de-sac when I missed the net. I’m sorry I did it even more once the net was so full of holes that, miss or score, the garage door was getting thunked. No amount of fresh netting was fixing that problem.

I’m sorry I did it so much you had to replace that expensive thing, twice, but really, my options were pretty limited.

I tried playing in the garage, but the pucks stuck in the drywall, and you weren’t very fond of that either. Even the ball made sizable dents.

I’m sorry that I used to put your equipment – ladders, shovels, coolers and more – in front of the net so I could practice trying to hit certain spots. I didn’t always succeed at first, and a few things may have gotten damaged. And by “a few things,” I mean “everything I put in net, and everything in the boxes behind the net.” I was just trying to get better.

I didn’t mean to knock over boxes while digging for my ball, but I had to get it back somehow, right? In hindsight, maybe climbing the shelving was a poor decision. I guess I was heavier than I thought.

I’m sorry that, when you could convince me to move the net so there was nothing behind it, I wrecked the hedge we shared with our neighbour by going back and forth through it hundreds of times to retrieve my errant misfires. But logically, it’s not like I’m not going to aim top corner every shot, and that doesn’t leave much room for error. After all, who shoots mid-net?

And I know, I shouldn’t have used my ice hockey stick for road hockey those one or 43 times, but the road hockey blades were worn so thin it was like playing with a 1985 Titleist one-iron.

I didn’t mean to put holes in the basement walls while playing mini-sticks either, but to be honest, if you’re not trying your hardest you’re doing yourself a disservice, and you can respect that, yes? I mean, you did teach me that. I had make that play. At least when we were playing inside, I couldn’t ding up the vehicles in the driveway.

By the way, I feel bad about messing those up too, but I struggled to find a good spot to receive a one-timer pass from, and the tire was only as accurate as I was – that develops passing and shooting. (Sometimes the thin blades got my initial passes airborne – I can’t be faulted there.) And what else are you going to use as a screen when your buddy is in net and doesn’t know you’re shooting? It’s like a free goal. Let’s not pin that part all on me. The cars were in the driveway. Where you play road hockey. Of course they were going to act as boards from time to time.

And yes, the damage I did to myself might have been the most concerning, I know that. I almost impaled myself on my own stick several times, as many kids have done. I lost quarts of blood out of nose (mostly), knees, hands and everywhere else. But you gotta be tough to play hockey, and that helped get me there. I was making progress.

There’s one thing that should always make you feel better: you’re not alone. I’ve seen graveyards of sticks at friends houses. I’ve heard the deflated parents trying to figure out a solution. And let’s be be real here: I’ve seen the basement at the farm where Dad played indoors – there’s damn near no roof left.

So, I’m sorry.

I’d love for this to be the part where I offer financial compensation for the tornado of damage I inflicted on everything you ever owned, but it just can’t be. It can’t be, because I fear that someday I’m going to have a son or daughter of my own who’s going to bring the pain down on my pocketbook the same way I did yours. And have you seen the price of hockey gear these days? There’s no way I don’t have it coming back at me ten-fold. It’s the circle of hockey life.

Comments (23)

  1. Janice, I’m sorry for my share of the garage door dents too.

  2. one day i will get that apology letter ;0) & he is only 8

  3. Masterful. Except I made her replace 3 garage doors….I have a terrible shot.

  4. My son is not even two yet, and I’ve already damn near had to buy a new computer…Because *someone* doesn’t understand that you can’t take slapshots in the house yet.

  5. Shooting in the backyard was a great way to learn how to hop a fence. If the ball went over, there was no hesitation, you’d toss your stick and be over before the ball landed.

    Sorry for breaking the fence numerous times, but let’s be honest, it was a shitty fence.

  6. So true that I emailed that to my parents! (I cited you because plagiarism is wrong)

  7. And I’m sorry for the many nights we’d be out under the street lights, smashing that ball off the plasic and metal garbage cans, and you’d have to tell us to shut up because some people have to get up for work

  8. I think I’d add “And Mom, Dad, I’m sorry for all those times I forced you to wash the garage door to get rid of all those wet-tennis-ball circles that covered it.”

  9. Canadians, so polite.

  10. This is awesome. Sent to mom and dad.

  11. And sry too for the emergency room visits for my brother’s and friend’s fingers, for the multiple times the manhole cover smashed them while retrieving our hockey balls from down the sewer. But, it was our last ball! And we still had half the day left……well before we had to go to the er that is. At least i was smart enough to have them do it for me.

  12. …and for the broken pieces of vinyl siding, the cracked shutters and the many pieces of PVC you had to replace. Man, that orange ball could do some damage on a cool morning.

    Bourne is right though…had to shoot for the cookie jar every time. Crossbar always gave you the “oh sh!t, what’s about to shatter/crack/explode/scream now” feeling. Good times.

  13. I’m sorry for trying the knucklepuck one too many times and breaking that double paned bay window. I’m gonna assume that one wasn’t cheap.

  14. “I’d love for this to be the part where I offer financial compensation for the tornado of damage I inflicted on everything you ever owned, but it just can’t be.”

    I think you probably covered that with the whole ‘not having to pay for college’ thing

  15. We used to set up the nets with the neighbors card behind it because “it made the cul-de-sac the most rink like.” What little shit bags we were.

  16. I remember when my dad saw the holes in the garage door from hockey… man was I in trouble.

  17. Broke a vase that my mom got in Italy before she got married when I was eight. Clearly I didn’t learn because when I was 20 and home from college, I was dicking around and nailed a ceramic bowl of hers. At least that time I knew what glue was, though that only lasted about five seconds before she warned me if I ever did that again, she’d disown me.

    Sorry!

    I’d apologize for making her wake up before the crack of dawn five days a week to practice, but I think she actually enjoyed it.

  18. You forgot to mention WHO! you shot all those pucks and balls at.

  19. Apology accepted my son. Money would have been nice too, but I feel quite certain that if you and Brianna should bless us with a grandchild..seeing that first garage door dent will feel pretty sweet. …And, damages aside, I truly enjoyed watching you and your buddies playing road hockey with that little orange ball (not to mention countless numbers of tennis balls), with some pretty pathetic looking hockey sticks. Time goes way too fast! xo

  20. I think I put probably five or six separate holes in the hallways from an errant elbow or knee while playing mini-hockey.

  21. Somehow I see myself in this boat soon…my 12 year old loves nothing more than dishing out huge butt checks, and my 7 year old is almost the size of the average 10 year old and has a cannon…it is inevitable that we will lose the HDTV to a nasty game of knee hockey in the living room one day…that, or one of them will end up going head first through the windows beside the front door…

  22. First dent in the garage door and my dad went to the hardware store and built me a 9 x 9 backstop. Chainlink fence with a wheeled base.

    His words were: “Another dent and I’ll break both your arms. Besides, if you miss the net by more than 3 feet in any direction you should give up the sport son because it isn’t for you.”

  23. For some reason I missed this until today but it certainly made me laugh and you are right…thousands of dolllars you still owe me and your Mom. HAHA

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