I was six years old when my parents gave me the gift of skiing.
That’s when they packed me into our green Volvo station wagon, drove six hours north to the closest decent ski resort, and let me loose on the bunny hill. It was the first of many similar trips. I call it a gift because being able to ski downhill has given me a lot over the past 30 years – confidence, adventure, friendships. And – more than anything – a reason to enjoy the outdoors even during the darkest, gloomiest days of the Swedish winter.
Nowadays I’m the one hauling little ones to the mountains. The past couple of years my skiing days have mostly been spent on the bunny hill shouting “Pizza to the right!” “Pizza to the left!” and “Don’t forget your pizzas!” (And no, I’m not talking about eating – for those unfamiliar with American ski lingo, “pizza” is what used to be called “plowing” when I was little.) All in vain, since my children prefer to go “french fry,” speed skiing style, while laughing hysterically at my attempts to slow them down.
I thought I’d done the most challenging skiing of my life in the black diamond tree runs in the Rocky Mountains in Montana.
But that was before I’d spent an entire day with my back bent over, hauling a 3-year-old up a vintage rope tow on a slushy bunny hill in the Midwest. I’ve had sore legs from skiing before, but I’d never felt like my arms and back got run over by a snowcat until I tried to teach my kids how to ski.
Physical exertion is not the only challenge. Emotions sometimes run high on the mountain, especially with the Little Naturalist, who is less likely to realize when she’s too tired, too hungry or too cold to go on.
As much as she loves skiing, there is also frustration and anger and tears. Over pizzas that turn into a pile of tangled chopsticks, falls that hurt and parents who won’t let her go up the chair lift even though she KNOWS that she’s ready for it and is willing to scream at the top of her lungs to make her point clear. (For what it’s worth, these meltdowns don’t just afflict kids – I’ve seen relationships brought to the brink of destruction as a result of one party trying to teach the other how to ski.)
With the kids’ difference in age and skill level, my husband and I often split up, each trying to cater to one child’s needs at a time. The days of us skiing together, like we used to before we had kids are, for the time being, gone.
But for the love of skiing we keep coming back to the hill.
I admit that introducing the girls to downhill skiing was partly a selfish move on my part. I wanted us to have an outdoor sport that we could enjoy together, just like my parents and I did when I was little. But I also knew that a parent’s will only will go so far when it comes to skiing. At some point, the girls would have to discover the magic of the mountain themselves.
They soon did.
The Little Naturalist was three the first time we strapped her into a pair of skis. I was hesitant, but after she had seen her older sister do it, sledding just wasn’t going to cut it for her anymore. She loved it – for a day. The next day she refused to get out of the car, kicking and screaming to make her point. I was never able to figure out why and I didn’t push it. BUT. This year she turned four and skied three days straight, riding the chair lift and getting her feet wet on green runs for the first time.
The Big Naturalist was five years when she first went down a bunny hill and now that she’s almost seven the pieces are really starting to fall into place. Last weekend we both tried snowboarding and whereas I gave up after two (very painful) attempts on the bunny hill, she persevered and is already begging to go again.
The rewards of skiing (or snowboarding) are not instant, but now that my girls are getting older, I witness progress by the hour. First time going up the rope tow by themselves. Check. Going down the bunny hill without help. Check. Riding the chair lift. Check.
And then, boom, the inevitable day when they’ll both be faster, bolder and better than me.
Learning a new sport is always challenging. But as long as we have more giggles and hot chocolate than meltdowns and tears, I think we’re good. At this point I feel pretty confident that we’ve seen the beginning of a new era, one in which skiing will bring us together as a family. Last weekend was a good indicator of what is to come – for the first time we were all able to ski a green run together.
The time for black diamond tree runs in the Rockies will come again, and before I know it we may be doing them together – as a family. That’s when I’ll know that our sweat equity – and tears – on the bunny hill will have paid off.
17 thoughts on “The Tears on the Bunny Hill Are an Investment in Our Future”
This post brings back a lot of good and bad (but mostly good) memories of my snowboarding days. Learning how to do it was hard and their were tears of frustration shed, but once you get it there’s nothing better.
I wish I would’ve learned how to snowboard as a child, lol! Unfortunately I think some things only get harder as you get older, or at least it seems like the falls hurt more!
When it comes to outdoor adventures with kids, I always say, “some days it works, some days it doesn’t.” You just never know. But certainly we keep trying, and you are right–in the end they will thank us for the foundation they’ve been given.
Absolutely, Kristen! I’m just grateful that we’ve found an outdoor activity that we can all enjoy together, because it does help motivate the kids to get outside.
My son is six and his first couple lessons were very hard for me to watch. He’s really getting the hang of it. Great Post!
Thank you, Jessica! Luckily it gets easier the older they get:o) There was a huge difference for my now 4-year-old compared with last year and I was quite surprised to see how quickly her attitude toward the whole thing changed.
It’s great that your two are finally beginning to get to grips with skiing, it’s always a great moment when your children pick up something that you love and can share with them. I look forward to hearing more about their progression on the slopes. Thanks for linking up with Country Kids.
Yes, I’m so happy that they’re loving it! Thanks for stopping by!
Awww, it certainly sounds like all the tears and frustration are worth it and you just know they will never forget the first time they flew down those slopes by themselves.
It’s been a great journey and there’s much more to come. I’ve got a feeling the next challenge will be for me to stay calm while my little daredevils start conquering blue and black runs by themselves….
Tears and frustration are a good start in accomplishing anything…good for you! I love skiing, and would love to get my kids to ski…next on my list maybe…
Skiing is so much fun, once you get the hang of it! I’m so glad we’ve turned a corner, and much sooner than I expected too. It won’t take long before the kids catch up to me now:o)
Teaching kids to ski is no easy feat. It seams like you are doing great – keep up the good work! Soon enough, you will all be skiing together as a family 🙂
It has been a lot of fun and I’m blown away by the rate that the girls are learning at! Shortly after I wrote that piece the 4-year-old started snowboarding too, inspired by her big sister, of course…Love your website, by the way! I’ll have to remember it for the next time we’re shopping for winter clothes – it can be hard to find high quality gear for kids but it looks like Winter Kids has a lot of good stuff!
Thank you for the great feedback, Linda! You will definitely need to check out our website when you are in need of new winter clothes for your kids – we are getting in all our new products for 2015/2016 in late summer/fall!
I’m excited to hear more about your skiing ventures in the coming season. Good for your 4-year old! Little shredders are the future of snowboarding
Good read and I can certainly relate this to my attempts to teach my son to ski as well as other similar activities. It seemed my son needed to be in the right mood to be challenged with a new experience like skiing.
Thanks, Jeremy! Yes, it definitely helps when they’re in the right mood. I think any time kids are faced with learning a new outdoor activity there will be challenges and while that can be frustrating at times I think that the satisfaction from conquering those challenges is ultimately what makes it fun!