Wednesday, August 24, 2011
I've said it before and I will say it again. I don't know if there is a greater thing about being a parent than watching your kids achieve new milestones. When they are really young they change quickly and so in a year you get all of those baby things - first smile, sitting up, sleeping through the night, new foods, first word, first step, first this, first that. Now these things are exciting (especially the sleeping through the night thing) but as the kids get older the milestones become, how do I say it, more what they are working towards achieving than natural progressions. Every kids learns to talk, know what I mean? It just happens.
But things like reading, writing, skating, swimming, riding a bike - of course most kids master these if they are exposed to them but learning how to skate or how to read, these take patience and work and so when it happens its a huge deal. Plus when a kid learns how to sit up he's not all smiles and breaking out the cigars, see? Riding a bike though, now that is a big deal to a little boy or a little girl.
These past few months have seen some exciting milestones for the boy. While our oldest has mastered riding a bike and is becoming a good swimmer, the boy faced down both challenges this summer. First he dropped the training wheels over the course of a couple of hours of an afternoon. He doesn't ride with the confidence of his sister yet but he's getting there. The bigger deal though is the swimming.
When they finished their spring lessons he was to the point where he could push off from the edge of the pool and then paddle back those few feet. Not bad, you have to start somewhere. But with a number of visits to pools and lakes and beaches this summer he is still at the point where he's wearing a lifejacket. He's not a swimmer.
We were up at camp a few weeks back and a lot of time was spent on the lake and jumping off our old dock. The kids, even the oldest, were happy to jump off of the dock wearing a lifejacket until our oldest finally got rid of it and began throwing herself into the lake with abandon.
Now the boy is a bit cautious by nature. Put it this way, he is a daredevil but he is very aware of the possibilities of harm that lurk for little kids who misstep. So while he is happy to climb and run and jump he is pretty smart about it. You won't find him doing anything stupid as a general rule.
He was a bit leery about going off the dock without the lifejacket, even though we were in the water to help him out. So we were standing on the dock in the sunshine, him standing there shivering a bit, Jenn in the water waiting, me calmly telling me that is would be cool if he jumped, no worries, him not so sure about the whole thing, mumbling that he would probably just take a pass thank you very much.
And suddenly he spun around when we weren't expecting, threw caution to the wind and flew off of the dock. Into the water he went, under the water he went and then up he came arms and legs churning furiously until he reached a spot (albeit not very far) where he could stand.
And from then on he was golden.
We're not far away from camp opening for the Oilers and most likely its going to be another long year. So far the highest finish I have seen predicted for them is thirteenth with a third straight last place finish predicted by THN already.
(BTW I love how Oiler fans get all upset and jump up and down when a guy like Tyler Dellow predicts the club is going to do poorly and blames management for this mess. Whose fault is it anyhow and why should he believe that the guys who ran the club into the ditch are going to be able to get us out of it? I know Ty and he is a fan of the Oilers. He'd have to be to keep watching this disaster year after year. To get angry at him for pointing out that the club is shitty and that management is to blame makes no sense to me. Oh well.)
I spoke about this earlier this summer. If the team stays healthy and the kids all take a leap forward and they get a lot of luck and a few other clubs get the shit kicked out of them by injuries and bad luck (who saw NJ in the lottery last year anyhow - it happens) then they may actually surprise. That's a whole lot of ifs though. Adding Smyth and Belanger will help. I can't remember the last time the club looked this good up front. I guess 2006/2007. They have two veteran centres, they have Smyth and Hemsky, they have two kids in Hall and Eberle who played the toughs last year and did pretty well. Gagner is in his fifth year in the league which is crazy, Omark has been a pro for years and young Paajarvi may need shelter but its not like he's completely lost out there.
Of course the problem lies on the blueline and beyond. Can Whitney stay healthy and carry a kid and will Smid or Peckham have the chops to play tough minutes with Gilbert? Right now, as usual, there are two top four defencemen and that is all. And don't even get me started about the goaltending.
Here's the thing. If the Oilers were to turn everything on its collective coconut and have a good year I would gladly admit I am wrong. Gladly. Problem is I remember five years ago when fan boys were telling the skeptical that they would be eating crow. Its getting old all of this losing. And on top of it all we are going to see Ales Hemsky shipped away for another mid first round pick and kid who is years away on top of it all plus we will have to hear the howls for the heads of the remaining veterans (Gagner is now a veteran whose head is being howled for so you can see how fast the worm turns, some Oiler fans would be better served watching juniors to satisfy their preference for teenagers I think) and then more rounds of management spinning how its all part of the plan.
And so once again we will be left to take the small enjoyments from this season. The return of Smyth. The last stylings of Hemsky in an Oiler uniform. Most of all though it will be the steps the kid take. Hall's exposive speed and shot. Eberle's deft hands. Paajarvi's wonderful skating. Omark's work with the puck and along the boards. Dubnyk's (hopeful) emergence. Petry. Peckham. The sure to come cups of coffee for Hartikainen and Lander and maybe other kids.
Its what we'll have to hang our hats on again and while their development will be fun personally I would prefer and actual hockey team that wins hockey games. I hope that day comes soon. Until then we'll have to watch the kids learn to fly.
Posted by Black Dog at 2:05 PM