Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Learning To Fly


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.

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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.

Bah.

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.

13 comments:

Bar Qu said...

Couldn't agree more with you on the joys of watching your kids achieve. The oldest ended grade one not too confident in reading (wouldn't do it unless pushed) and then all summer long he's reading everything he sees. The other two are swimming in his wake and doing stuff beyond their years. I love it.

Good point on the pedophilia of Oilers fans. Teenagers don't win you games, but they do look good for a time. Then when they are supposed to grow up, you don't want them anymore, b/c they just aren't as bedazzling as they used to be.

BTW, once again, I am amazed at your family's stamina for the car trips you take. Hats off to you sir.

Anonymous said...

I take issue with Tyler Dellows.

It's fine to be realistic (we suck) and be critical of management (Oilers management have made some BAD moves). We all do that. You do that. And I love this blog.

But Tyler's tone - and maybe it's just me but I don't think so - makes it seem like he wants to see the Oilers fail. He'd rather see the team perform as expected and fail, thus proving his point than see the team exceed expectations and win a little* That's not a "fan".

*Probably not in real life, but that's how it's conveyed to me

It's like women. They bitch, nag, and bitch some more. Why do we put up with it? Well, because there are times when they don't. When they pretty themselves up for a night out. When they thank us for taking the trash out. When they rub your shoulders after a long day at work. I don't follow Tyler much, but all he seems to do is bitch, bitch, bitch.

That said, I can appreciate good writing. He's free to say what he wants because he says it well.

hunter1909 said...

What I can't imagine is having any opinion about hockey in August.

Peacecountry said...

I agree wholeheartedly about the comment made about Mr. Dellow. Its not the actual message that was conveyed but how it was conveyed.
The saying goes, "Don't shoot the messenger". True enough. But if my buddy comes and tells me my girlfriend is sleeping around on me while he has a smug, condescending, arrogant tone. Then finished it off with a laugh and a knee slap. Well I will probably harbour some ill will to him as well.
Same goes for Mr. Dellow. I exspect people to tell it like is. But he makes me feel like a horrible hockey fan for cheering for Oil. It reminds me of when I talk hockey with Flames fans or Vancouver fans. Maybe it jsut hurts cause he supposed to be one of us.

Black Dog said...

Thanks bar qu, ah yes the reading. Both of our oldest are big readers and read beyond their years. Warms my heart as I am a big reader as well.

Hunter - well it is an Oilers' blog. Sort of. ;)

Black Dog said...

Anon and Peacecountry - I can't speak for Ty but I'd consider him a friend. We get together every couple of months. Played hockey together. He's a tremendous guy.

As I said I cannot speak for him but I can say the guy just does not tolerate bullshit. Can he come across strong? Absolutely. But he tells it the way he sees it. In 2006 long before the oilers picked up Roloson he was bullish on the club and said so even though folks said he was nuts. He was right.

He loves the oilers but he doesn't think much of management. I agree with him, maybe as you said its just the tone.

I can tell you this. If the oilers have a great season against all odds he'd be as happy as any of us. He may dislike management but like me I think he'd love to see them succeed even if it meant he were wrong. Like me he has little faith in these guys and I don't blame him. I hope he and I are wrong though. ;)

Pete. said...

Odd that both commenters who dislike Dellow use analogies that suggest problems with women. I'm not saying there's a correlation or anything; it's just an interesting coincidence.

Anyway, I don't really understand why for so many people being a fan of something (a team, a band, a politician) seems to require blind acceptance of everything done by that person/entity. It seems to me that really caring about any of these things has to involve a level of interest and engagement that includes some level of critical analysis, and an awareness that they could be doing things better (when that's the case). But what do I know?

As another season looms ahead, it's again time to hope for the best, and prepare for the worst. I'd love for me and all the other cynics and pessimists to be proven wrong, but after five long miserable years, it seems insane to assume that this will be the year things go well. Maybe it will be, though...

Bar Qu said...

Yeah, I don't get the fact that a guy tells the truth in a fairly unvarnished way (using facts and history of individuals involved) and then he is the problem.

I don't know what tone has to do with anything. Either you are bringing good discussion and points to the table or you aren't. I frankly am more annoyed with people who don't contribute anything more than blandness or deliberate misunderstanding. Dellow does neither and I see no way that he could be categorised as anything less than a devoted fan of his team

Chris! said...

We should get together and watch the first game of the season together. You, me, Mike and Tyler.

Then we can decide how best to spend our time for the rest of the year.

I've spent a lot of years caring about this team. I'd like to see just a little progression.

Black Dog said...

You bet Chris! Sounds like a plan.

Also we shoudl try and get a gang for when OKC comes to town, if there is any interest.

Jordan said...

One of the fields I have become very aware of over the last few months is how people deal with their emotions. Growing up, my dad would regularly walk away from many a situation when he was getting overwhelmed by his feelings. Getting angry with the kids? Take a walk. Feel like something is wrong, but feel akward about saying something? Find another place to be. Feeling sad, hurt, or anything that might have him feeling vulnerable? Work it off and out of your system.

As the feelings are not expressed, they become knotted, and the exact reasons for their being become blurred, and slowly lost. But the feelings themselves remain, and act as a blockage within his psyche. So, when he feels an emotion that is within this block, it can trigger an emotional reation that encompases the size and strenght of the mass of unxepressed emotions, rather than simply that of the feeling itself.

The reason I bring this up is that in seeing him live his life like this, I see him regularly fail to correctly recognize the causes of any particular feelings he has, because he does a lot to hide from them.

I bring this up because I am noticing that this particular method of dealing with emotions is very widespread here in Edmonton. I would suggest that at least 20% of the population deals with feelings this way, and based on people I have encountered, its probably more than that outside of larger metropolitan centres in Alberta.

When I have pointed out to someone like my Dad that something they are doing isn't all that great/smart, often they feel really angry at themselves for making a mistake. But, rather than see that they are angry at themselves, they get angry at me, as though me telling them was a crime against humanity. But this goes back their own inability to acknowledge what they are feeling, and the source of those feelings, as opposed to actually feeling angry at me.

It's really important to recognize that many people look to the Oilers as some kind of escape. They want to be blind fans. They want to be able to feel like they are a part of something bigger. They want to be able to express a lot of these emotions that they cannot express on their own, and they don't want to think about it.

I expect that a lot of the people who have been angered by Dellow, and others, may have similar difficulties. And based on my experiences, there are a lot.

Dennis said...

Ty would be just as much of a homer as anyone else if the team gave us something to believe in.

I'm also super-negative but it's because there hasn't been a whole lot to be positive about for awhile

Black Dog said...

Great comment Jordan, thanks for that.

Agreed Dennis, myself as well.