17 Dec Henry and the Scoreboard
“WERRRNT!” exclaimed my three-year-old son Henry to a press box full of suited up off-ice officials at the Dec. 11 Adirondack Thunder hockey game at the Glens Falls Civic Center. Henry was dressed as the Civic Center’s scoreboard.
Let me rewind: Henry has a history of obsessions with loud, sudden noises. The fascination goes hand in hand with sheer terror.
Because of the noise a hot air balloon burner makes, he has a balloon nightlight, three balloon ornaments, and balloon decals on his bedroom wall. We’ve communicated on Instagram with his favorite celebrity chef Laura Miller (of Tastemade’s Raw. Vegan. Not Gross.) because he likes to see her use the blender.
We’ve watched countless YouTube videos of toilets flushing. We’ve made up bedtime songs about smoke detectors. Henry asked Santa Claus for a tornado. We’ve made numerous paper cut-out scoreboards because of the one hockey game he went to in April. Which brings us back to the story.
LARAC’s Fall Festival was at the Civic Center on Halloween, and I wanted to bring Henry in his homemade tornado costume. He said that since we were going to the Civic Center, he wanted to be a scoreboard instead. So we got a box and glued black paper on it, and I found a photo of the scoreboard online so I could try and replicate the fonts and all. After some designing, cutting and gluing, we had a scoreboard outfit.
I hadn’t anticipated Henry having a complete meltdown once we walked in the doors of the Civic Center that day, but that’s exactly what happened. Like the scene from Back to the Future IIwhere Jennifer sees her other self and passes out, Henry fell to the ground and refused to move. After lots of coercing, we gave up and went home.
But I sent his photo to Sean Driscoll who got it posted on the Thunder’s social media, and it got around to Art Porlier, who is the timekeeper at the hockey games. He reached out to me through mutual friends Kelly Stevens and Stephanie Williams, found me on Facebook, and invited our family to a game.
We accepted, and Art sent us the lineup of officials for the game — with Henry listed as honorary supervisor and timekeeper! After many emails wherein the crew “reported” to Henry, game day arrived.
Henry’s excitement when we picked him up from daycare transitioned to panic as he had more time to think. He cried over dinner, red faced and shaking. He said he didn’t want to go. We did deep breaths and positive visualization, but it was the reverse psychology that got him in the car. That, and earplugs under his noise canceling headphones, which we said had a special scoreboard setting we would turn on when we got there.
We worried he would melt down again when he walked in the doors, but the box office gave him a VIP pass when he gave his name. Then Art, dressed in a suit, opened the door for Henry and swept him right up to the press box. That’s where Henry greeted everyone with the scoreboard noise he so very (VERY) often makes at home.
Art gave Henry a clipboard of paperwork so he could take a roster of the officials, showed him how to push the horn button on the scoreboard, and gave him the scoop on the scoreboard’s future. “RayRod” Schurga gave him a puck and Tom Delcourt gave him a Dan Miner bobblehead. At the end of the game, they lowered the scoreboard onto the ice so Henry could touch it. He never makes an excited face for pictures, but he was thrilled and we had a hard time getting him to sleep that night.
When he did, it was tucked in with his puck and his Dan Miner. Henry declared that he graduated from needing headphones, so the next time he went to a game, he wouldn’t need them. Now he wants to play hockey.
Thanks to Art, he faced his fears. We are so fortunate to live in this spectacular little city that loves children. The experience was once-in-a-lifetime.
Now, though, if we could just arrange similar star treatment from Laura Miller, a fireman, a plumber and a storm chaser, the kid would be 100% fearless.
This column originally ran in the Chronicle Newspaper on December 12, 2015.