Paul Tafelski - December 2019

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December 2019

Growing on Ice Hockey and Fatherhood

It’s hard to believe, but another decade’s coming to an end. In some ways, it feels like it’s flown by, and in others, it’s felt like a lifetime. Of course, fatherhood probably has a lot to do with why I experienced it that way — in 2010, my son Frank was 7. Now, he’s a month away from his 17th birthday, and I’m wondering where all the years went. It’s amazing how much kids change in the span of a decade. Frank used to talk about Spongebob or Pokemon, but now, he’ll ask me questions about the stock market at breakfast. The only thing that has been close to a constant in his life has been hockey. I played my share of sports growing up but never really got out on the ice. Heck, before Frank was born, I’d only gone to a handful of RedWings games, and even then, I barely had an understanding of hockey. I knew it was fast paced and could see why people found it exciting, but beyond “get the puck in the net,” the rules were an utter mystery to me. So, when Frank started taking an interest in the sport at age 4, I knew we were stepping into a whole new world. I still remember his first goal. As you can imagine, a hockey game between 4- and 5-year-olds is sheer chaos, with kids sliding left and right. But Frank found his moment, flinging the puck all the way from the blue line, “If you want to stay in the game, you have to realize that your kids will keep moving and growing, and that’s what makes it so exciting.”

moving and growing, and that’s what makes it so exciting.

sending it sailing through the goalie’s legs. I remember that and so many other proud moments he’s had on the ice — and of course, I remember the penalties too. When you’re raising an only child, it can be hard to have any perspective as a parent. You want to do everything right and view each and every experience as having been important and pivotal in your kid’s life. Looking back, I was too worried about him missing out, or making mistakes, or falling down. I’ve had to realize that those things are just as important to growing up as the big, memorable moments. So, much like hockey, fatherhood was a learning experience for me. I didn’t know all the intricacies stepping into it, and it proved just as fast-paced as everyone said it was. It seems like just yesterday I would help Frank into his pads at the ice rink — now he drives himself to practice. If you want to stay in the game, you have to realize that your kids will keep

More than any fast breaks or game-winning goals, what has made me the most proud over the years is watching Frank grow into a thoughtful person. He wants to be successful and do good in the world, and he is putting in the effort to make those dreams a reality. I think that’s something every parent wants to see. If you have young kids at home, cherish those moments with them. It’s easy to think things will stay the way they are forever, but believe me, the time will fly by. The best advice I can give you is to not sweat the small stuff. It’s easy to see all the little things in a child’s life as being important, but don’t overdo it. It’s okay to relax and watch as your kids learn and grow.

-Paul J. Tafel ski • | 1

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