by Kyla

We went to a hockey tournament this weekend. This was sort of in lieu of doing my 3000-word essay that was due yesterday, although I’d like to go on record saying I brought eight books with me to the hotel, so my intentions were there. But I also brought a couple of other kids with me, because when you’re a single Mum in university there ain’t no way no how that you can afford to go away to a hockey tournament if you just go by yourself. So you take on a couple other families’ kids, and they all chip in for food and gas money and hotel bills and suddenly it turns out you can take your kids to this hockey tournament after all, but all those kids and you in a hotel room does mean that you carted all those books around for nothing. But they looked really pretty all laid out on the desk there, as though the hotel room was inhabited by an intellectual.

Some of my youngest daughter’s teammates started hanging around in our room, too, I think because I kept making quizzes about Justin Bieber for them to answer (Selena Gomez is …. ? and Justin Bieber’s girlfriend is …..? And Justin Bieber’s first album was …?), so when I wasn’t sitting at the rink wincing every time an opposing team took a shot on net, I was surrounded by a gaggle of happy, funny, Justin Bieber-loving little people. Those books on the desk kept calling me, ‘though. I mean, I am in university, after all, and in all this time I’ve never just not done a paper. Hell, I’ve written papers with my kid, feverish, on the couch next to me puking into a bucket. There, there, I said, cleaning her up and getting her water, then sitting back down with her feet in my lap while I typed, tip-tap, away. If I can write papers with my kid puking, surely there’s nothing that can stop me getting a paper done on time.

I thought about dropping my kids off at the rink and not watching their games. I thought about kicking all the nine-year-olds out of the room. I thought about bringing books with me to the stands and taking notes between checking out plays. But I didn’t, and I’m glad that I didn’t.

I am all for doing well in school. I figure if I am there, I better be putting in the effort to get the most out of it that I can. Plus, I adore my teachers, and I want them to adore me in return, and even though they probably don’t give a good god-damn about it one way or another, I am loathe to disappoint them in even the smallest of ways.

But I am also a parent, and I have these two little people walking alongside me for the moment, and I don’t want to miss too much of it. I want my kids to know that their Mama never missed a practice or a game, and I didn’t miss those things not because I felt obligated to attend but rather because I wanted to be there more than anything in this world. More than good grades, even.

My little daughter, who can barely skate, who is so literal that, when told her job as defense was to protect the goalie, proceeded to spend the next four games doing nothing on the ice but screening her own goalie, regardless of what end of the ice the play was in, who spends most of her life following the bees in her head, came out on ice the last game of the tournament wearing an A. Her team has rotating captains and assistant captains, and my little daughter was chosen as an assistant for the last game. She grinned up at us when we screamed her name as she took the ice, and every time she skated by, thirty seconds or so after the play had passed us, she’d grin impishly up into the stands.

Sometimes, I think it would be a lot easier to do this whole university thing if I didn’t have kids. Let’s face it, if I didn’t have kids, there would be no hotel room, no gaggle of Justin Bieber fans, no extra children to accompany us to hockey tournaments. And there would be no hockey tournaments, no cold bum, no impish assistant captain with a big sister screaming and jumping with delight.