Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Joys Of Skiing With Your Kids

On a recent weekend ski trip to Mount Snow with my "darling" children, I found myself confronted by several inescapable "truths" about skiing with your kids.

Truth #1 - Even on the shortest weekend getaway, your kids will pack as if they are going a months long expedition to the Himalayas. As I surveyed the vast expanse of goods piled high in our living room on the Friday afternoon we were to depart for Vermont, I could only shake my head in disbelief. How could a sixteen and a twelve year old amass baggage rivaling that of an NFL team heading out for a road game? "But Dad, we need all of this stuff.” they pleaded in unison. Thank goodness their mother wasn't joining us, or my poor Ford F-150 would not have been up to the task.

Truth #2 - When one child is a skier and the other a boarder trouble cannot be far behind. Yes, there is nothing quite like the sweet music of your offspring throwing insults back and forth while maintaining a white knuckle grip on the wheel in the chariot race that is a typical Friday night on the NY Thruway. All I can do is praise God for the invention of the portable DVD player. I send them to opposite corners of the aforementioned F-150 to entertain themselves separately. The ensuing battle of soundtracks between "March of the Penguins" and "Alien vs. Predator" is much preferred to the shout of "Knuckledragger". Peace through technology!!!

Truth #3 - Once you conquer the logistics, defeat the traffic, and resist the urge to drop them off at their aunt's house in New Jersey so you can rack up maximum vertical by yourself, you finally get there and skiing with your kids becomes all you imagine it should be. The transformation was sudden and dramatic. No complaints at making the seemingly endless trips between vehicle and lodge with all their worldly possessions, no fighting over the TV in our room, no having to spend an hour getting them up and dressed on Saturday morning. These were not MY children. Someone had taken mine during the night.

There definitely is something about traveling with your kids. Away from all of our regular school and work routines, we really do relax and truly enjoy one another’s company. Rather than worrying about amortizing that ever more expensive lift ticket, I found myself enjoying our sport through my kids' eyes; My daughter confidently easing her way through skier traffic on a busy Saturday at Mount Snow. My son, the boarder, who has eyes only for terrain parks, letting the old man show him that you can fun can also be found on the steep and groomed. And after a long day of laughter on the chairlifts and exploring Mount Snow to the fullest, we shared a quiet dinner at Poncho’s Wreck in Wilmington. And now, over a plate of fajitas, 400 miles from home, they start sharing all of the little triumphs and concerns of their everyday lives. You know, the details that you have to perform interrogation to get on a Saturday night in the living room.

Sunday dawns bright, and we hit the slopes early. Tired legs from the first weekend on skis ends Jocelyn's day at about Noon, but she cheerfully suggests that Drew and I make some more runs. Looking out for her brother? Must be the mountain air. Drew and I decide to take our last run on "Uncle's", which is by far my favorite run at Mount Snow. A twisty-turny blue about as wide as your upstairs hallway, this is classic New England skiing. Easily missed by the hordes hurrying by on Deer Run, this natural snow trail is clothed in shadows and on this day has sketchy cover at best. I'm a little apprehensive that we may pressing Drew's c0mfort zone, but alas, this is to be the day that all parents fear, at least a little. My kid's ability had caught up with my own. Drew is right with me turn for turn, and it's he that is pushing me. As we exit "Uncle's" onto "Meadow" there is a nice size jump on the right hand side of the trail, and I decide to go for it. Great takeoff, decent hang time for a guy on the wrong side of 40, but oh, the landing. Extended a little to far forward, caught an edge, and you guessed it, yard sale! My almost teenage son who is laughing his fool head off, of course, witnesses all of this. To my surprise and delight, he is laughing with me and not at me. I put myself back together, and as we head down to meet Jocelyn and begin our eight-hour ride home, my heart sings. It's been a great weekend. As we pull out of the resort parking lot, it seems that the truck magically loaded itself this morning. We make great time. Traffic, what traffic? And after a Journey and Styx (at least one of them likes my music) sing-along, it's a very quiet ride. As I gaze at their sleeping faces, one thought keeps crossing my mind, "When can we go again?"

Get out there with your kids! Have a great ski season!


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