Playing hockey in his crib instead of going to bed has not been an unusual activity for three-year-old Eli Graveline. But when his mother posted a video of him doing so to his Instagram as a “throwback Thursday,” she didn’t expect it to go viral.
The video was taken in January 2017 when he was two-and-a-half years old, while Julianne Graveline’s husband was away, just to show him “what our son got up to tonight.”
This past Thursday, Graveline posted the video and from there she says it’s “taken off.”
Asked why Eli had a hockey stick in his crib, she said it was a negotiating tactic.
He also used a roll of tape as a hockey puck, she said.
Since posting it, the family has been contacted by TSN, the NHL, and several TV stations in the U.S., something she never expected.
But Graveline said hockey wasn’t something her family expected in her son’s future.
She said that when Eli was born, she and her husband had no plans for him to be involved in organized sports, primarily so there wasn’t a “strict schedule” to follow with practices and games.
Eli had other plans.
The toddler was about 18 months old when he began playing with hockey sticks at her parents’ place. Eventually his parents bought a hockey stick for him.
“It just kind of came up within himself,” she said. “And now we’re at the point we kind of just have to surrender to the fact we will be at the arena every weekend, we will be travelling and we will definitely be, ‘hockey parents.'”
Graveline said Eli first started on skates about two months before his third birthday.
To help him get used to being on the blades, she said they let him walk around the house wearing the skates with skateguards on, and did so for about two months before hitting the ice.
“He probably didn’t even realize that wasn’t normal. To him, wearing skates in the house, that was skating,” Graveline said. “So he really learned his balance then.”
Once the public arenas opened in fall 2017, they began taking him on the ice for public skating, and then signed him up for skating classes at a local training centre. He “stands out” on the ice, skating with other children aged eight and nine, but Graveline said he appears to be keeping up with them.
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Eli will be able to start playing hockey this fall, but she said because he knows how to use a stick and a puck, unlike beginner hockey players, they’re going to see if he can play up a year or two.
“We’re trying to balance pushing him too much versus putting in a group of kids where he won’t feel challenged. He definitely likes being challenged,” Graveline said.
As for the response to the video, she said she had “absolutely zero” expectation, but said the most heartwarming part is her son has “no idea” how exciting it is.
Graveline adds, she has an Instagram page for her son because she has so many photos of him in her phone — she works as a real estate appraiser — the social media page allows her to keep track of photos of her son.