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All hail the Rink Rat!

Posted by shotfromthepoint on December 15, 2008

Following a weekend that included 1 hockey practice, 2 league games, 3 tournament games and 3 team Christmas parties, I’m ready for a break…. but there’s no rest for the weary.  After all Christmas is just around the corner and soon after it …. the Bell Capital Cup and the World Juniors… Yahoo!

But let’s be honest.  While hockey moms occasionally get the due respect and prestige status they are owed, I need to pay tribute to another family hockey hero… the rink rat.

If you’re a hockey mom, this creature needs no further introduction.  Others are wrongfully assuming I am talking about the vermin seeking out the canteen food [which defies description].  I may now have confused you further and you are wondering if I truly mean rodents or the poor husband I forgot to feed this weekend.

No, I mean the Rink Rat (ringk råt): 
Found in packs of their own species, these are the poor little siblings that attend all unGodly hour-of-the-morning games and practices of his/her own AND forced accompany older siblings to their respective games and practices because they are too young to stay home by themselves.   Generally easy to recognize by their attire (may still be in pyjamas, occasionally their own half-dressed hockey gear but always something dirty, sticky and stinking of old coffee spills they’ve mopped up with their knees) and banter (they alternate between screeching with delight as they race around Home and Visitor spectators alike, whining from sheer exhaustion, or crying tears of sheer frustration at the injustice of their situation).   The most telltale sign of a rink rat is his or her mantra:  “Can I have a quarter?”   A fully developed rink rat may have progressed to the second stage mantra : “Can I have a Slushy?” (Note:  does not matter what time of the day it is and if you need me to tell you what is a Slushy, stop reading this and return to The Economist). The most deft of all rink rats is the youngest of its clan….

My diaper bag is long gone but my Arena BOT (bag o’ tricks) which is  generally the size of your typical hockey bag but smells better (ok, usually) and contains the following:
– pens, paper, markets, crayons
– deck of cards
– small, easy-to-transport games (like Ziggity, Ruk Shuk and ministicks)
-activity books
– a tennis ball or two
– full change of clothing for Rink Rat
– 2+ juice boxes and snacks (you’re not just feeding your own rink rat after all)
– all left over garbage from previous arena snackfests
– the scarf we”ve been collectively knitting for seven years, and
– other attention-seeking sibling distractions….

Inevitably I break out the Nintendo DS and have been known to haul a fully-charged portable DVD player with earphones to arenas during hockey tournaments.  All may be essential depending on the status of your rink rat, if you harbour any hope of watching your other beloved one play.

Really though, I have chosen to be at the arena, these poor rink rats have not.   Worse still, they still believe their acquiescence will result in older siblings coming to support them at their games.  Poor things do not yet know that they are dead wrong…. there will be no mutual respect and admiration.

Some arenas, as I have mentioned, are COLD!  Sometimes we’re a visiting team to an arena I’ve never been to before (it does happen albeit more rarely now though) and I won’t let her run around because who knows what will happen to my poor little rink rat?!  She may find a gumball on the floor and oh – I can’t say it!  So she has to endure the cold with me (in my flannel lined jeans and Smitten Mittens) when we are in unknown territory so I can keep a watchful eye on her.

Now her oldest sibling’s games are an hour and a half long, we have to be there a hour before game time, and the arena could be an hour’s drive away.  Sheer lunacy for most people but might also incite temporary insanity on the most noblest of rink rats.

So I’m forever on the look out for fun things with which the rink rats can amuse them themselves.  Let me know if you hear of anything!  In the meantime, Santa may have to put a little something extra in the rink rat’s stocking….. a roll of quarters perhaps?

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