@littlestpersimmon this isn’t very good because I’ve been writing it on a note on my phone but I thought maybe you’d enjoy my ideas about kindergarten!Kent and his teacher. The best kindergarten teacher I know was a certified scuba diver… and after graduating high school I decided to become one too, because their passion stuck with me. I’ve had a history of passionate teachers who love what they do, and I wanted that for Kent.
Hockey doesn’t enter the life of Kent Parson seriously until the very first day of kindergarten. Mrs Smith is an older lady (well, old to kindergarteners but probably only a decade into her teaching career) and she’s well known and well lived in the community. And she’s absolutely mad for hockey.
His first day is okay. He’s kind of afraid at first, but he’s Kent Parson and by snack time he’s got a gaggle of friends and they’re eagerly listening to Mrs Smith read a hockey book. When he’s picked up by his mom that evening after the after-school program he excitedly tells her all about his day.
His mother recalls in an interview after he’s drafted by the Aces that it was the first time he’d ever mentioned playing hockey. And that’s when life changed.
Mommy enrolled him in a learn to play hockey program a few weeks later, after getting a flyer in his backpack from a kind Mrs Smith, who saw Kent’s excitement and knew of a program that was affordable and single parent friendly.
Kent learned a lot that year. He learned every NHL team from the pennants on the walls (and how to read them!) all the jerseys of his favorite players (and numbers!) how to work together (like on a hockey team!) and how to work alone (like a penalty shot!!). He learned to skate forwards and backwards, how to hockey stop and even got to play goalie!
Dear Mrs Smith sees that excitement Kent has for the game on the weekends when she goes to all the games her husband coaches: mites and squirts and peewees and bantams. Of course at Kent’s level the little ones are following the puck in a group and still wobbling around on shaky legs, but she’s here for the joy, not the sick plays. They watch enough professional NHL hockey at home, weekend days are for the kids and their unbridled joy for things they love.
Her favorite memory of little Kent Parson was his last day of kindergarten when he hugged her and told her that she could wear his jersey someday, promise! She had smiled and hugged him back and sent him on his way to first grade, thankful once again for the job she got to do every year.
She keeps tabs on as many of her kids as she can. Bobby married three years ago and has a little girl, Shelly swims for a college down south, Austin moved to New York to act, Janie’s oldest daughter is in her new class.
But she can’t help but tear up when a picture of little Kent Parson lifting the Stanley Cup over his head is the front page of the local news. She and her husband attend the parade the city holds, and John has the picture of Kent hoisting the Stanley Cup over his head framed for her classroom.
And her favorite memory of the no longer so little Kent Parson is when he awkwardly knocks on her classroom door a few days before he heads back to Vegas, a backwards cap on his head and a jersey under his arm.
She didn’t think he’d remembered her, which was fine. Her job was to give her small ones a solid foundation for their education, a passion for learning, a good first year to grow and learn.
But when he holds out the jersey for her with that same silly smile she’d seen years ago on a much smaller Kent Parson she can’t help but grin and ignore the jersey while she wrapped him up in a hug.
After letting him go, she takes the offered jersey and flips it over to see his name on the back.
“I told you that you could wear my jersey someday, Mrs Smith.” He says softly, his eyes flitting around the pennants that still grace the walls, eyes lighting up when he sees the Aces one in the collection. “I had to keep my promise.”
And for that, she has to wrap sweet little Kent Parson up in another hug, jersey once again forgotten on her desk.