My boy picks up his coffee cup, wiping the smudges off the table in the cafe with his napkin.
“Bye, Mom. I’ll see you in a couple weeks.”
“Hey, before you go let me get you a cookie to celebrate your new job.”
“Mom,” he sighs, “You know we are on a low carb, no sugar diet.” I can’t help looking sad. “Don’t worry, ma, we’ll be ready to eat our regular holiday food by Thanksgiving.”
I keep forgetting my son is a “we” now.
I hug him, encircling his broad shoulders with both arms. He hugs me with only one. His phone had rung when he stood up. He waves, then disappears.
I sit back down, putting my cup on a napkin, and look at the cookie in the case, frosted with an over-zealous smiley face. No, I decide, I don’t need it. Then I think, what the heck. I still like sugar and carbs so I stand up to get in line. I notice a woman entering the shop wearing a jersey that has Hawks Hockey Coach emblazoned on the back, holding the hand of a boy in a matching Hawks Hockey shirt. When I get to the register to order my treat, the girl comments that it’s the last cookie. Before she can get it, the mom shoulders her way to the front of the second register and says, “I’ll take that cookie!” brandishing her card. I recognize that move. She’s The Enforcer. Her son grins up at her as he takes a bite and she looks at me, somewhat belligerently. No, I will not argue. Quite the contrary. I smile my congratulations. Well played. I remember that move myself, when the boys were that age.
I have never been an athlete, but I knew what it was like to be on a team.
When my boys were young, we were a real squad.
If Team Horibe had been about hockey, the dynamics would be so similar. There I’d be, skating next to my sons, feeding them the puck, setting each boy up for success, and that heady exhilaration when they scored. GOAL! We would hug right there in the middle of the ice, oblivious to anyone else.
As the boys got older, I moved to the bench, an assistant coach. They would skate over to be near me, sometimes because they needed a breather or to map out a new game plan. I would draw suggestions on the pad and they would float off, instinctively improving on my ideas, and they would carefully shoot the puck towards the net. GOAL! I was still so close I could taste the ice.
But now. Now they are all grown up and I am way up in the stands. That crazy woman with the hat and jersey, pom-poms in both hands, standing and cheering when anything promising happens. It feels a bit far away from the action.
Still, sometimes as my boy is skating towards his goal, he looks up and catches my eye and I smile.
As always, I remain his #1Fan.