The following appears in the June edition of Chicago Parent.
Yesterday, I turned off the news after yet another segment where two different guests insulted and belittled each other. They asserted that only their side held the true moral high ground.
My children are growing up in an era where intellectual debate and ideological differences play second fiddle to hysteria and name-calling. Everyone is mad. Everyone is yelling.
And nobody is listening.
It is us versus them, often defined by age, race, wealth, sex, or politics.
Late last year, my middle son, Jack, was placed on a park district hockey team. At the first practice, I counted a LOT of ponytails.
Holy crap. The team was 50% girls.
Jack was not pleased. If ever there is a sub-category of people who do NOT see eye-to-eye, it is 12-year-old boys and girls.
I smiled watching the young ladies bounce into the ice rink wearing cute little pink shoes and purses. Then the transformation began as they sauntered out of the locker room with their game faces, sticks, heavy equipment and look of battle readiness.
Jack weighs 90 pounds at 5’3”. He is fast, but slight. As a second year PeeWee, some of the kids tower over him and outweigh him by us much as 70 pounds. While checking is still not technically permitted at the PeeWee level, many refs forget that fact.
The game is very physical.
But those sweet little pony-tailed girls?
THEY WERE BEASTS.
Not only were they fantastic skaters, they were also the undeniable enforcers of the team, taking to task anyone engaging in cheap tactics.
Over and over, we heard the same comments before games. The organization is brand new, so the Horned Frogs must suck. The team is half girls, so the Horned Frogs must suck. It’s PARK DISTRICT, so the Horned Frogs must suck.
The Horned Frogs? The new team? The one with all the girls?
They won the championship.
The celebration on the ice was symbolic of how they played as a team. It was a jumble of boys and girls, throwing their gloves in the air and coming together for a giant group hug before boy-girl embarrassment quickly kicked in.
I wanted to freeze that moment and show the world.
Look at what the kids can do.
Why can’t we?