Yes, that was me who got up and walked out of the warm room during your anti-#8 tirade. Yes, I heard every word you said and yes, it disgusted me and angered me. Quite frankly, I had to remove myself from your presence because I just could not listen the words coming out of your mouth for one more second. Yes, #8 is my daughter.
Here are some things you do not know about this beautiful (inside and out) #8 that you, a grown adult, bashed in the warm room:
#8 is a 14-year-old girl; she is still a child, with an immature mind, learning how to navigate through the ups and downs of life. She may play hockey like a boy and look like a young woman, but she is a young 8th grade girl. She has a brother and sister, and divorced parents and she shuffles from home to home, often taking on the role of other parent, because well, that is sometimes what happens to the oldest in a divorced home. She is 14 years young and is full of innocence, potential, dreams and hope.
#8 has a had an extremely challenging life. The details of which are too personal to share, but trust me when I tell you she was forced to grow up way too quickly; she played the role of mother to her brother and sister for many years. Her childhood was full of worry and fear. She learned at a young age to pretend she was okay no matter what because she didn’t want to burden her family. She is tough as nails on the ice, but this girl has some serious emotional strength, too.
#8 is fortunate enough to have found a safe-place in life. A place where she feels secure, confident, and 100% at home; her safe place is on the ice. She loves playing hockey and she comes to life on the ice. This is the one and only place where she lets all the other crap go for one hour. She plays hockey and she is happy.
When she laces up her skates, she is no longer the little girl who worries about everyone else or the sister who had to be the mom to her siblings. She is no longer the one who takes on everyone else’s problems. When she slips into her #8 jersey, she becomes Molly, simply Molly. She is on that ice doing what she loves and she is not worrying about, thinking about, or trying to hold anyone else up. For one hour, she gets to be a normal kid, playing a game, and having the time of her life.
I understand that you, hockey mom, really wanted your daughter’s team to win the game this morning. I understand that you thought my daughter was playing a little too rough. What I don’t understand, however, is how you, at 45 years old, can sit in the stands of an 8th grade hockey game, and continuously bash my daughter out loud in front of so many people. She is 14 years old and doing what she loves.
I urge you to remember that there is a little girl behind the helmet. Behind every helmet on that ice there are untold stories and hidden secrets. There is pain and there are life experiences you know nothing about. As parents, we need to model integrity, respect and healthy competition on the sidelines and provide our children with a safe, fun and healthy environment for competition. You never know what battle someone else is fighting; be kind, be loving and pass no judgment.
But please, as a grown adult, a woman, a mother, leave my daughter out of it. She has enough to worry about already.