Sunday, January 24, 2010

Watch Your Back Strudwick!

We try and balance out things with our kids. We like to keep busy, my wife and I, but not too busy. I play hockey and write a little bit. She plays soccer and she runs. In terms of actual commitments we have the hockey and the soccer and that is all.

With the kids we try and do the same. We want them doing shit, we want them active but we believe that they should spend most of their time being kids. Going to the park, riding their bikes, colouring, playing games (the boy and I got a table hockey game for Christmas, our eldest got Perfection, which she has already mastered), pretending that they are pirates or dogs or whatever comes to mind, the little weirdos, watching movies and the TV (they're into the Roadrunner right now).

So for now they have two activities scheduled a week except for the summer when they play soccer until Canada Day and then they don't do a damn thing but hang out. We have them in swimming and will have them in swimming until they can swim and they can choose another. Since they were tots they both did gymnastics (and the baby just started that, btw I highly recommend it as a way to teach your kids balance, get them coordinated and aware of their physical abilities - I swear both of our older kids are daredevils but absolutely know their limitations because of gym) and our oldest has taken ballet and this winter they are taking skating lessons.

A buddy of mine asked me why I paid for lessons rather than do it myself and the answer quite simply is that while I have years of experience coaching and am entirely and absolutely a man of infinite patience I learned last winter that the one thing I cannot do, at this time anyhow, is teach my son how to skate. I haven't the patience.

Our oldest is tough as nails and persistent and driven. She hit the ice two years ago and had never really done so and within a minute she fired away the chair that was given to her and she was toddling around no problem. When her classes end Saturday morning she asks if we can go to the park to skate some more. She loves it but she also wants to get better and is willing to fall and get up and fall and get up to do it.

Now as for the boy. Well he's still pretty little and his lessons last winter were a disaster. Essentially he laid on the ice and bawled for the entire time, the poor little bastard. Learning to skate is hard and unfortunately for the boy this is the first time he's run into a roadblock. He has never really had to deal with adversity, other than his sister picking at him, he's a damn natural at everything, the little bugger, soccer, swinging a bat, playing the drums or a harmonica, whatever it is he gets it easy as pie.

But skating .... a different situation and his first reaction when pushed was not to push back but to have a seat.

So this year we got him the skate buddy and we steeled his will and I took him out for his first lesson two weeks ago and we listened to the coaches and then I watched him as he basically held onto his skate buddy and didn't move an inch. Still, it was progress.

The following week the wife was working so I had all three kids at the rink. I still managed to get on the ice and after five minutes one of the kid coaches comes over and says that's it we're dumping the skate buddy. Well, there was a look of panic but the boy handled it okay and by the end of the half hour he was able to stand without any help.

And so this week my wife takes them for the first time and I'm worrying I have to admit, because, well, he just hasn't pushed back yet.

Its silly I know. He's the sweetest little fellow and he breaks my heart he's so wonderful and don't get me wrong I'm not one of these guys who pushes his kids like a madman but you want your kids to overcome obstacles and most important, I think, you want them to learn that sometimes you have to put your back into it.

And so they get back and I ask how it went and my wife says that they told him to get rid of the skate buddy right away and he pushed it away without a second look and he was skating ten feet at a time, no problem.

Just like that.

So I guess the little bugger has some sticktoitofness after all.

He can skate.

I give him another week or two before he can teach Strudwick a thing or two.


For the second straight year Strudwick has the coach in his corner. He got plenty of icetime in crucial situations last year, I certainly remember being a little frustrated with his presence out on the ice during overtime a few times that predictably (slow as mid skater out in 4v4 against other club's best players) ended up with him in the box or the puck being fished out of the Oilers' net or both.

And Friday night, not for the first time, Strudwick was out in a crucial situation and, not for the first time, it ended in disaster for the Oilers.

Now by all accounts Strudwick is a terrific guy. He's a great teammate and the sort of guy who does whatever is asked of him. He fights, he plays hurt, he plays forward or defence.

The problem is that he is a pretty poor hockey player. The Oilers have a lot of poor hockey players but probably none worse. Maybe Jacques.

Why does Strudwick get the icetime that he does? Well on a team of floaters and head cases, of dummies and softies, Strudwick is one guy that the coaches know what they are going to get when he is out there.

He's shit you mean, you might ask, and while that is the truth, the fact is that they know that Strudwick is going to take care of his own end, he's going to clear the front of the net, he's going to take the man. In other words he's going to play defence.

Now he's terrible but I do believe that Quinn looks at him and figures well at the very least he's going to be in position and he's going to give it his best and that's more than he can expect from the majority of the players on his club.

I'm going to be on my own for a couple of weeks come February 5th so I hope to write a little more frequently and will be taking a look at next year. (Wait til next year!)

I have no faith in Tambellini at all so I think we're looking at more of the same next season. I think we're getting more kids (sell Hope!) and the contracts that need to be moved cannot be moved so we're not going to see many new faces who can play this game.

Ideally we'd see a guy or two who can play in his own end. Guys who take the body and play their position and clear the front of the net would help.

Guys better than Strudwick although if I were a betting man I would say he'll be back and we will be left wanting again.



PDO said...

Is it bad I only really bother to read the first half of your posts these days and just skim the second half?

You need to get the boy a hockey stick and see what he does with it Pat ;).

macaotim said...

Our little guy just started walking two Wednesday's ago. He started late, but has now surpassed some of he long-time walking peers. That's how it goes...development that is...everyone is on their own time-line.

The scary thing is when a player reaches the end of the development comes regression and then retirement. Some of our players have completed the cycle and need to be given a gold watch, or some damn thing.

macaotim said...

Hey Dog,

Is there a way to post pictures in our comments. I'm not internet savvy enough to figure it out, but I took a pic in Zhuhai the other day that you might like.

Black Dog said...

Tim - yeah we're on our third now so we've learned all of that. Our first was pretty typical first girl - walking and talking quite early, she seems to be ahead of the curve in everything - reading, math, motor skills.

The boy followed pretty quickly, mostly because he spent so much time with her and wanted to keep up, that's our theory anyhow.

Meanwhile our third walked a little later and still barely talks at eighteen months. She understands everything but is taking her time. As you said, own timelines.

As for pics I am sure someone else will chime in, I know that you can link to it in comments if its online but I don't know that you can upload it directly. You might check blogger help too.

PDO - is it bad that I can't think of a damn thing to write about the Oilers? What a season. I'm going to put a few posts together looking at next season but you can only write about trade possibilities and possible lineups so many times. Its like the summer after the UFA frenzy is over - dullsville. And we're already there.

He's pretty hot and heavy about the hockey stick already, I told him to learn how to skate and then he could give it a try. Maybe by the end of winter.

Baroque said...

One of my younger brothers really didn't talk at all until he was between 18 and 24 months - and then he started with complete sentences. My parents figured he didn't want to waste time with poor grammar while he was learning (and yes, he did wind up majoring in English in college). :)

I think the best gift any parent can give their kids is the realization that they are different and will have different talents, that just because one of them gets all As in math doesn't mean it will come easily to the others automatically. I know I sure appreciated not needing to be as good in everything as my brothers and sisters were, because I didn't have the same talents.

A lot of my classmates had parents who expected all their kids to do well at all the same things and pressured them because of it.

Black Dog said...

Baroque - you're absolutely right.

Its a weird world we live in. My wife works with a woman who had her kids being tutored at age two, believe it or not. Based on the genetics involved (both her and her husband aren't very swift obviously) I am inclined to believe that they may as well have thrown their money out the car window onto the highway.

As mentioned our kids take gymnastics. We have witnessed parents berating coaches because their classes weren't structured enough to further their kids' development. These were for 18 month olds to 3 year olds.


Our daughter was tested and asked to join the competitive program. She's very good. We decided that we would try it out. After three weeks she had had enough. She hated it. We transferred her back to the recreational program. The club couldn't believe it but when a five year old (at the time) isn't enjoying it then what's the point.

Its a weird balancing act. They have to be pushed, but not too much. You have to have high expectations for your kids but they have to, in the end, learn to do what makes them happy in their lives. They should be active but not scheduled to death.

My God I need a beer. The pressure. ;)

Halfwise said...

Here is what this old guy believes about kids, and adults too:

Figure out what you are good at.
Figure out what you like to do.
Figure out what other people value.
Build your life where these three things overlap.

If other people value it, you will get some form of payment. If you like to do it, pretty much any payment will be enough. If you are good at it, the payment will be more than average for whatever it is you did.

Now, if we only knew what Oiler management was good at...

mrzael said...

My youngest daughter who's a fairly good athlete in any sport she tries, she's an allstar in college basketball. When she was 8 she wanted to play hockey so we get her some boys skates and away she goes to her first practice on the local team. First time on hockey skates she falls all over the ice, it was painful to watch. After practice we get a phone call telling us she was, along with two other players, sent to another community team that needed more players.
Her first game back against her former team was just priceless. She owned them, three goals multiple assists and they couldn't get the puck away from her. I had dreams of her being the first female NHL player.

Baroque said...

No kidding.

All of my siblings and I were what I guess they call gifted now - got decent grades without really trying, put in effort and we either did get or could have gotten straight As in everything, and yet my parents never paid us for grades at all. They were each the first kids in their families to go to college, and never had any expectations that we would do anything different, but taught us from an early age that homework came first. Some of it we did after dinner, and went outside to play in the afternoon if the weather was nice, but it had to be a reasonable amount to do in the evening.

And we didn't have to get all As, we just had to try our best. If our best was a C, then my parents were fine with that.

Even all those years ago (and I'm just turned 40 this month) I felt sorry for the kids who were pushed into music or choir or sports or science clubs or anything like that to the point that they weren't allowed to get out if they felt overwhelmed and their parents didn't give them any time to just sit down for an afternoon and read outside at the picnic table because they had to go to some academic camp or another.

I can only imagine how much pressure there is now.

Black Dog said...

Baroque - its weird because everyone I know seems to have a good head on their shoulders when it comes to their kids. Everyone has their kids in one or two things and its mostly to keep them busy and get them in that mindset thats its best to lead an active life. I know one guy who has it in his mind that his kid is going to the NHL, he's an acquaintance, and once he told me his plan my opinion of him plummetted.

Basically I think there are people who pressure their kids and maybe its more than before but I don't thinks its an epidemic. You have people who think that makes sense but I think they're the minority.

Its funny though - growing up everyone i knew played hockey or ringette and that was it. The odd person played ball in the summer. The guys who were really into ball often didn't play hockey or not seriously. When we weren't playing hockey we were free to roam and be kids. That has definitely changed a lot. Paranoia runs rampant.

Black Dog said...

mrzael - great stuff. I have a buddy, a phenomenal athlete who has his kids in hockey and soccer, they both play competitive. His dad was pretty hard on him and he holds back like crazy. He finds it hard sometimes but he just wants his kids to enjoy it. When he was their age he was a dominant player yet he never went anywhere so he knows. His daughter, at the age of eight, was playing rep and the coach began going over their summer training schedule. He told the coach that his daughter wasn't doing a damn thing all summer when it came to hockey and if the guy didn't like it he could cut her. They kept her but were stunned that he would not get on board.

Good stuff Halfwise - as for Oiler management, well we're still waiting on that, eh?

PDO said...

I demand the right to live vicariously through my yet-to-be-conceived-despite-some-close-calls kid!

He's making the NHL, getting laid every night by the entire cheerleading squad and going to the University of Michigan because I think the CHL is a stupid idea. After that, the Oilers are drafting him first overall and he's winning 10 cups in a row in Copper and Blue.

You guys are a bunch of idiots, not setting up goals for your kids or enjoying their lives for them or anything!


(Seriously, if I had a kid in the next 5 years I'd cry like a baby upon finding out)

Bruce said...

Don't say it often enough, but this is a great blog. Always enjoy the articles and the comments.

But skating .... a different situation and his first reaction when pushed was not to push back but to have a seat.

A nice option when you have the seat right out there on the ice with you. :)

We should try to get one for Strudwick. A rocking chair suggests itself. If I didn't like the guy as a person I'd suggest a toilet. But I'm not mean-spirited like that, no sirree, so I'll keep that one to myself.

Happy b-day, Baroque!

Anonymous said...

Been limiting myself to lurking. Not worth it to get invested in this group of losers. (Oilers I mean).

Regarding kids, your task is to present activities that will mate with each of the individual personalities to build well-rounded adults.

Just an aside - I tried fencing as an adult and it was one of the neatest things that I had ever done - weird combo of mind/body. (I had too much muscle memory from decades of volleyball to be any good - feet lunge last in fencing, not first). For the right kid I think it could be magical. I wish that it would have been available to me in my youth.


Scott Reynolds said...

Good stuff BD. I can only really relate to the kids situation through my sister's experience. She has five kids, all under 10 and they all pretty much do one or two activities in addition to school. I agree that it's good for the kids but from watching her (and her husband), I know that it's good for the parents too. And I think the smaller families thing might be part of it. It seems like it would be much easier to schedule an only child half to death since the kid wouldn't have siblings to goof off with in the "down-time" and it seems to me there are more and more families that go for the "one child only" option.

doritogrande said...

I'm going to be on my own for a couple of weeks come February 5th so I hope to write a little more frequently and will be taking a look at next year.

The wife's going to come home and find she's missing everything bag-shaped the house once contained.

Black Dog said...

dg - awesome

Scott - definitely a good point. We know a few folks who have one kid (of course at some point we all had only one except those who started with twins) and when there is one, well, they get constant attention from the parents and, certainly in our own experience, they don't do as well left to their own devices.

Actually that is why we had our third, the first two play so well together that it became pretty easy. We figured we were golden, may as well go for another. ;)

Black Dog said...

Deano - fencing, eh? I know nobody who has even tried that. Interesting.

I think that your point is correct except I think that kids actually find their niche themselves. You need to try and help them find that road, maybe push them in a certain direction, I guess, but so far our guys are pretty clear as to what they want.

PDO - love my kids. If I had become a Dad at the age you're talking about it would have been a disaster. Totally.

Bruce - thanks for the kind words, I very much appreciate that.

As for Strudwick well what the hell can you say. I wish some of the kids had that try but damnit he's terrible.

Have to give the guy kudos for making a career out of it though.

Bruce said...

BDHS: I've started calling him Secret Agent #43 in the Fall4Hall. Much more chaos than control, though.

Probably cost us both points against Dallas.

Darren said...

Teaching kids to skate is an interesting task. Well teaching them anything is I suppose. Just took my 3yr old boy yesterday for the 3rd time with the rule that hockey players don't cry. Well he fell countless times, teared up a few times, but with encouragement and seeing his dad 'fall' as well, he would get up and keep moving. By then end I was able to work on my (miserable) slapshot and he would skate (walk) around with his own puck. It worked as long as I left him alone.
It's a fine line as to when and how much to push the kid, and when to let them stop and to try again another day. This was a day the pushing was just enough.

Baroque said...

Thank you, Bruce.

I have to admit, "40" sounded a heck of a lot older before I actually got here.

I have to agree with the large families idea - although my father was an only child, my mother had three brothers, and I was one of five kids. Every summer we had a few scheduled things, partly because with a large family you couldn't afford a lot of activities, partly because when we were a one car family it was too difficult to schedule too many activities, but the rest of the time we were left pretty much to our own devices to play in the back yard, ride our bikes to the library, or go over to a friend's house to watch movies.

I would think that it would be easy to suffocate an only child with attention and it would be easy for an only child to accept it.

B.C.B. said...

Great blog post and wonderful comments, this time around.
--- --- --- --- --
As a kid, I was asked (forced) to play one sport and do one artistic thing a year when I was a kid. This was I got to try: Hockey, baseball, soccer, (figure) skating, piano, bass guitar, theatre, and dance. The only thing my parents ever made me do was paino one year: as kids we always choose the sport, but all the kids did paino lessons. I decided I didn't want to do it anymore, so as reasonable parents, they asked me to stick it out and next year choose a different activity. For once as a unreasonable kid, I agreed, and the next year I joined modern dance.

PS: note to all Dad's, explaining to your 12-14 year old boy that dance and theatre may seem sissy in the eyes of their friends but it is an excellent way to met girls (or gay guys if they swing that way). Not every kid will make the NHL, but theatre sure allowed me to score in leagues I didn't belong in. When I quit hockey for theatre, I went from hanging out with 1 guy to every 0 girls on my team to 1 guy to every 4 girls in my troop. A choice I would make again in a millisecond.
--- ----- ----- ----
I think Quinn treats Strudwick like I did my piano lessons. I know that I only have it for one year, so I'm trying to make the best of it. I still practiced a lot, but instead I would only play popular music not classical. If you are going to ride Strudwick out for a year, let him play and maybe his try will were off on the young'ens: I learned a lot about myself practicing a instrument I didn't like, so maybe the kids will learn a lot from the games we should be calling practices . . .

Black Dog said...

nice one Bruce

Darren - one of my favourite things about being a dad is teaching my kids, this morning I was helping my little guy print names for his school valentines, great stuff

but skating - man, its brutal. Its hard to do, its cold and it hurts when he falls, so that is a bit of a nightmare, I'm glad he's over the hump

B.C.B. - I went to an all boys' school, we had no band. My best friend was not a huge music guy but somehow got a spot at the all girls' school band playing trumpet

In Grade 9 and 10 he was one of two guys there, the other was totally gay. He was the King.

Smart dude.

Brad said...

Synopsis from the comments so far on this topic: BD stops talking about the Oil = no one really minds. BD stops posting altogether = could have a riot on our hands. About right?

I winced at the 'one kid' families, cause that's what we are. I did get lucky though, cause I picked a wife as smart as me ;) we decided from the get-go to treat it as if he were our second, not the first. This has worked better than either of us could have imagined. He's allowed to fall and pick himself back up, he's allowed to use the 5 second rule if he drops food. Just pretend your first one survived fine and this one will be ok.
BD - the post on skating is priceless as this is our first winter on skates. I never played much, but I refereed hockey til I was 25 or so. Haven't been out on the ice til this year and I've forgotten how much I miss it - even just public skating.
Thanks again for the great's just a damn pleasure reading this blog with all the noise and crap out there that is the internet.
BTW - I'm posting this instead of watching the end of the game. I put the boy to bed during intermission and apparently all hell broke loose in the 10 minutes I missed of the 2nd.
Gretz's birthday today. I wonder what he thinks of all this...

Baroque said...

Synopsis from the comments so far on this topic: BD stops talking about the Oil = no one really minds. BD stops posting altogether = could have a riot on our hands. About right?

I was just thinking if he just wanted to ramble about life in general and his kids in particular I don't think anyone would mind and I think there would be a lot of interesting comments. :)

hunter1909 said...

Was abl to stumble into the last 10 minutes of the Hawks rolling over Oilers.

Oilers have totally given up. They haven't a clue.
This team is a 30th place team, and for no little reason.

Thanks for Horcoff and his 7 million a season to play "I don't know how to play above the third line but the coaches and management were all pluggers so that's why , so they can prove a point or something."

Thanks for rushing all the kids. We've got about a dozen players none of who look ready for the NHL, and are wasting away thir cheap years contract wise. Nice work, management, wasting good years that they could be in the AHL actually learning something.

Of course, the Oilers don't care about running an AHL team, do they?

Bruce said...

Yeah, I went to the Hawks game with Woodguy last night. I kid you not, at one point we were whistling "Sweet Georgia Brown" while Patrick Kane, puck on a string again, circled the Oilers zone with both impudence and impunity. I was going to title my game report "Globetrotters vs. Generals" except it turned out somebody on Lowetide's thread had already made the joke, and apparently some TV commentators did as well. The resemblance was more than superficial, let's put it that way.

It was quite comical at times how easy Kane, Keith et al made it look. Might as well laugh ... at this point in the season where even a die-hard like me has already died, or at least my hope has, I'm not very invested in the outcome of the game and just want to be entertained. To which all I can add is, thank you Hawks!

Bruce said...

I have to admit, "40" sounded a heck of a lot older before I actually got here.

Baroque: Huh, just hitting your prime. And may I add, wise beyond your years. I always enjoy your comments.

Robert Blizzard said...

Hey BD, thought you might be interested in this: soccernomics (sort of a moneyball for soccer).

globe and mail review here

Black Dog said...

Thanks for the kind words Brad and baroque and for the reference Robert, I may have to check that out

And Bruce is right, Baroque, you're just getting started. ;)