Debby Waldman's Blog

Why Pay to Stumble Down a Mountain When you can do it Free at the Park?

Why Pay to Stumble Down a Mountain When you can do it Free at the Park?
January 22, 2005
Edmonton Journal

Starting when our children were old enough to walk, my husband began encouraging me to sign them up for skiing lessons and I began pretending not to hear.

Children who can barely walk have no business frittering away their parents’ hard-earned money by strapping on expensive pieces of fiberglass to travel to the top of a mountain only to stumble, cold and crying, all the way down, when they can do pretty much the same thing for free at the neighborhood park – only there it’s called sledding.

However, I am as susceptible to peer pressure as the next suburban mom, so by the time my daughter reached elementary school and all her little pals were clomping down the hall like sore cowpokes on Monday mornings, sporting wind-burned cheeks and swinging ski tags, I felt my resolve weakening.

It broke completely when my son was in kindergarten. That’s when his best pal’s parents invited us to spend a few days skiing with them at a mountain resort. If only they’d invited us out of earshot of my husband, but alas, once Dave heard, there went my plans to spend spring break cleaning the basement and teaching the children to make crafts from the dust bunnies breeding behind the dryer.
To be honest, it wasn’t just Elizabeth and Noah I felt shouldn’t be skiing. It was me. My most vivid memories of childhood skiing lessons are of being stuck alone at the bottom of the bunny hill, struggling to get my skis back on as my classmates and teacher, having forgotten me, made their way back up the hill.

I still don’t understand why my mother signed me up for lessons. The closest I think she ever got to skis was when she took me to rent mine. My father, whose favorite athletic activities were watching baseball and playing catch, didn’t even come along for the ride. I don’t think either of them were particularly broken-hearted at my lack of prowess or my announcement that I’d rather spend my weekends reading and playing Scrabble by the fire.

Dave, on the other hand, is a swift and agile skier who has fond memories of tackling black diamond runs on Olympic ski hills shortly after being potty trained. “Why don’t you take Elizabeth and Noah?” I suggested. “I can stay home and clean the house.”

He shook his head. He didn’t actually come out and demand that I set a good example, but the message was clear enough: I was expected to come along, ski and have fun!

Maybe I’m demented, but I find it hard to have fun when I’m throwing away hundreds of dollars to do something that not only doesn’t interest me, but makes me miserable. Sort of like root canal, but minus the health benefits.

I tried. I went up the chair lift, picked what was supposed to be an easy run, and spent nearly an hour snowplowing down, at which point I headed straight for the bunny hill. I was enjoying myself for the first time all morning when I discovered an obstacle blocking my way. It was Noah. Trying to catch up with his classmates – history was repeating itself – he’d fallen into a mound of snow.

When I knelt to dry his tears and help him up, I promptly lost my balance and landed on his head, which made him cry harder. When I tried to stand, my skis got tangled with his and we began careening down the hill, a loud sobbing mass of embarrassment as well as a hazard to anyone upright and nearby.

Noah didn’t finish his lesson. He had a private session in the afternoon, which is what the ski school does for children whose mothers attempt to decapitate them mid-class.

As for me, I wish I could report that I’d been removed from the mountain but apparently falling on your son’s head during his lesson isn’t grounds for expulsion. I am still trying to think of a good way to avoid a ski trip this year. If anyone has any suggestions, I’m more than willing to listen.

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