Ok, outdoorsy parents.
You did it. You got in my head and inspired me with your perfect pictures of your perfect family on the gleaming mounds of perfect snow in your bad ass ski goggles and matching down-filled romper thingies. (That’s the technical term, right?) I saw you. I heard you. And in a surprising move even to myself, I motivated. I took my tiny beasts skiing. And I would just like to say to you fabulous sporty friends, my inspiring super-parent friends, I hate you.
My 4-year-old came home from school the day after winter break and engaged in his usual routine – making very loud and rapid-fire demands and screaming when my human feet don’t move fast enough in the direction of meeting those demands. His demands on this day however were not just for his avocado sandwich on a perfectly fluffy potato roll but also to immediately be enrolled in ski school. His best friend had just returned from a ski vacation with his family and had entered the classroom that morning with the proclamation that ski school was the best ever and now that he could ski he basically had superpowers and was pretty much a grown up and all of his Pokemon were 10 strength better than before he had experienced ski school and life was really super awesome. Ski school, it seemed, was the actual answer to all the questions and the 4-year-olds went wild.
There was a time in my life when I loved to ski. I was never great at it, as I am not actually that coordinated or daring or athletic, but I enjoyed myself a bunny hill or two. But the thought of taking my 2-year-old and my 4-year-old skiing exhausted me and that was just not going to happen. So I told my son what I tell him every time I want to say no without getting verbally abused: “When you’re a little older.” And that seemed totally reasonable to all of us.
Then, the secret Facebook parent group that I am clearly not a part of sent out its invitations to all parents everywhere that it was essential that all children be taken on a ski trip this season. Big kids, little kids, toddlers, fetuses – everyone grab some skis and head to the slopes. And while I can usually resist the urge to cave to social-media-perfect-parent-pressure, I did have to admit that everyone looked pretty darn happy in their skis and snowboards. And…après–ski. I’ve never really skied anywhere fancy enough that après–ski was a thing but now that I know it’s a thing it would be rude to NOT have a cocktail, right? So I caved.
“Guess where we’re going, guys?”
“McDonald’s?!!!” [Aggressively excited shrieking]
“No. And why do you always assume that’s where we are going? I have literally never taken you to a McDonald’s.”
“Where are we going?”
“Skiing! We are going to take a day off school next week and go!”
“I’M GOING TO SKI SCHOOL?!” [Actual real-life happy tears.]
This skiing experience was already a winner! I was making my children so happy one of them actually cried! There was hugging and cheering and high-fiving and did I mention HAPPY TEARS?! My son was right. This really was going to be the best.day.ever.It was about twelve minutes into the hour and fifteen minute long car ride that if you listened closely enough, you could actually hear the bursting of my stupid, rookie parent bubble. Because that’s when it started:
“Are we there yetttttttt?!” (Note to non-parents: that is an actual real-life thing.) “I am NEVER going to Transylvania again! It takes foreverrrrrrrrrrr.”
“We just left home. And it’s Pennsylvania.”
“Transylvania is the worrrrrrrrrrst! I have to pee!” [Tears. Non-happy variety.]
Here, readers, I will spare you the rest of our car ride but I think you can probably just fill in the blanks on the next hour of our lives. Anyway, we arrived safely. And by that I mean no one was forcefully ejected from the car which honestly was a big win. And we were back on track! It was a beautiful, sunny day and we were here and buying our lift tickets and our ski rentals and signing up for ski school and…
“I’m sorry, what did you say? Ski school is sold out for today? It’s a Monday! In Transylvania! How many people could possibly have signed up for ski school?!”
[More tears. Very non-happy variety.]
“It’s okay, buddy. I can show you how to ski.”
This is the moment, by the way, where my husband and I exchange glances and immediately know we are playing it kind of fast and loose with our children’s safety as neither of us has been on skis in a very, very long time but hey, it’s cool. What’s the worst that could happen when you send a toddler down an icy hill on what are basically blades designed for high speed with no training at all? This would be fine.
Now, if you have kids and you have ever dressed them for snow, or for life, or tried to take them, you know, anywhere, you know that what follows is not an exaggeration. We spend the next 45 minutes getting dressed. This feels like record speed and I feel pretty good about it. The kids whine through much of it as their boots hurt and their helmet is hot and they have to pee (obviously) and they want to go outside and their jacket is too orange and his brother is wearing his goggles and mommy where are my gloves I hate those gloves I am not wearing gloves where are my gloves. But we do it. We are dressed and we head outside and walk toward the slopes and oh good, it’s lunch time.
“I AM SO HUNGRY!!!” [Hungry tears.]
Granola bars thrown into open mouths. Skis are strapped on and we hit the snow and what do you know?! We are skiing! Isn’t this great, guys?
“I AM SO HUNGRY!!! I HATE SKIING! SKIING IS THE WORST!”
“Just one run. Let’s do one run down this little hill and then we can go in and have lunch.”
“I CAN’T EVEN WALK BECAUSE I AM SO HUNGRY MY FEET DON’T WORK!”[Frustrated tears. Not from child eyes.]
I am not proud of what happens next here, folks. I want to be able to say that I lovingly encouraged my children to just give it a shot, and if they really don’t feel up to it in this moment, we will just go have lunch and try again later. But, 45 minutes!! It takes 45 dang minutes to get these people dressed! And so I did what felt right in the moment. I pushed my kids down the icy hill. My husband did accompany the 4-year-old and coach him on his journey so it wasn’t entirely abusive, and my 2-year-old’s hill was really just a speed bump, but thats what I did. And as my 4-year-old came barreling down the end of the slope with his arms in the air and a giant smile on his face shouting, “This is MEGA!!!!” I knew this was all worth it. We were all sweaty, not from sport, and all had shed a couple of tears and were hungry and had only been outside for about 30 minutes total, but this memory was worth it.Mostly. Because then we had to get back to the lodge with two children who were not interested in walking or skiing or moving and basically got dragged along the ground by their parents and a ski pole and then had to undress everyone and line up for lunch and fight over the hamburgers that nobody wanted to eat and then get dressed again to walk outside and return our rentals to the man who found himself very entertaining when he accepted our returns and noted that we had paid for a full day’s rental but only used the skis for about two hours (one and a half of which was spent dressing and eating) and so I had to kill him. Not really. But a gal can dream.
Skiing, it turns out, is one of those activities that becomes exponentially harder with children in tow. Like traveling, or swimming, or breathing. So if I had any advice to offer my friends as they consider their first ski trip with their kids, I would just say, go for it. Because you’re making memories your kids will never forget. And it will be one more great story your family can share together always.
But if you’re looking for me, keep moving past the ski lodge until you get to a pair of golden arches. Because the next time I decide I want to go skiing, we’ll go to McDonald’s instead.