Hockey Moms

Contrary to recent pronouncements in the national media, not all hockey moms are lipsticked pit bulls.

This is a feel good story. It is written shortly after a Christmas spent with a number of relatives consisting of a nun, a Scientologist, a Jewish statistician, a new Korean daughter-in-law and four children whose dedication to reminding me of my innumerable shortcomings could convert a simple request to pass the ham into a high- decibel verbal conflagration worthy of a scene from Big Brother.

It is, in fact, a feel-good story. It is also true. One of the teachers at a New Haven inner city school is a hockey mom who lives in the suburbs. Almost all the students are poor. They mostly come from broken homes. The problems they face, both at home and at school, are daunting. Christmas is often a challenge, not a pleasure. And clothing, good clothing, is hard to come by.

Our teacher is a hockey mom. She and her husband and other parents schlep their kids to rinks around the state watching their sub teen skaters scramble across blue, red and maybe polka-dot lines after an elusive piece of black rubber. These folks travel in packs. They become friends. They talk about everything, not just how much ice time Zachary is getting or whether the coach should have pulled the goalie in the last two minutes.

During one of these conversations in early December our teacher happened to mention her concern about how many of the students at her school didn't have proper clothing for the cold weather. One of the other moms picked it up. Her kids had outgrown coats and parkas and such which were sitting in her closets doing no one any good. She figured that there were other parents in the same situation at her kids' schools. 'Nuff said.

Demonstrating the underlying truth of the old vaudeville joke about the three most effective means of communication---telephone, telegraph or tell a woman-she went to work. Within days, like the loaves and the fishes, her six coats had multiplied into countless hefty bags filled with parkas, jackets, hats and mittens. And the clothes were impressive. Some slightly worn, some moreso and some, get this, with the tags still on them that hadn't been worn at all.

Logistics were not a problem. From the suburbs to the house of another teacher in that school who lived in New Haven. And from there to the school where they were distributed to the students a week before Christmas. The donors--parents and kids-- were happy. The recipients were too. A plus all around. And no one complained when you asked for seconds on ham.

My friend, Rick Silverstein, in his closing arguments in criminal cases, frequently quotes the late President of Yale, Kingman Brewster:

The presumption of innocence is not just a legal concept. In common- place terms, it rests on that generosity of spirit which assumes the best, not the worst, in the stranger.

Hockey moms, like some jurors, understand that concept and act on it. Perhaps Governor Palin's description was a bit misleading.