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Downhill With Kids 

click to enlarge JAMES CAMPBELL ILLUSTRATION
  • JAMES CAMPBELL ILLUSTRATION

Both of my children experienced skiing on my gently sloping driveway. It was such a joy to watch their tiny, uncoordinated little bodies slide down that hill. I was stoked for the day when they would join me on the mountain. So, to those of you who have never tried it, skiing with kids can be one of the greatest experiences in life. If you don’t believe just how great it can be, read the examples below.

First example: the time I decided to take my son and daughter night skiing in a storm. This was their first experience skiing under the lights and it was very cool watching the dumping snow under the glow of the high-powered bulbs. They got comfortable after a few runs. It was then that my 6-year-old son decided he wanted to go left through the “fun trees” by himself, while my 8-year-old daughter insisted on staying right on the main run where it was well lit and wide open.

After some negotiating, which is basically futile with children this age, I gave in and let my son venture on. I laid down three very basic rules: 1) stay on the run, 2) if you get to the bottom before us don’t get on the lift alone and most importantly 3) DON’T WRECK!

My daughter and I made it to the bottom and, of course, there was no sign of her brother. After waiting to the point of worry, we finally saw him up the hill emerging from the trees into the shadows of the run. He explained that he decided to ski in the trees and, of course, had a full-on yard sale wipeout. A short time passed and I realized he was missing a ski pole. “Oh, I couldn’t find it in the snow,” he said innocently.

As we were riding the lift back up I asked him to point out where he went down so I could try and find his pole. “Oh! It was right by that tree right there. No wait, it was by that tree. No, no, it was actually by that tree over there.”

After pointing out at least two dozen possible crash sights, I realized I was in for a very long, cold and wet night searching for a ski pole.

Next example is the always classic “I have to poop” scenario. Inevitably, after getting the kids dressed, ski boots on gloves helmets face masks etc., we will take one run and one will announce that they are having an emergency and a bathroom must be found immediately. We hike back to the lodge (because we’ve already started down the run), make it to the lodge and either climb up or down stairs (because no ski lodge in the world ever seems to put their restrooms on the main floor) and go slip-sliding into the bathroom (because ski resorts don’t seem to be able to put anything but the world’s slickest flooring in their lodge restroom). After undressing, taking care of business, redressing and finally getting back out on the slopes, it all goes well until, of course, after a couple of runs you hear kid No. 2 announce: “I have to poop!”

Last, but certainly not least, example: the terrifying chairlift ride. There is nothing like being on a double chair, with no safety bar, with the wiggliest child in America one who also happens to possess the attention span of a grasshopper to make your knuckles white. It’s especially terrifying to experience this on the beginner lift, so there are plenty of hard stops and starts.

While skiing with kids can be a very rewarding, bonding and sometimes a character building experience, just remember that it really is OK to apply the “No Friends on a Powder Day” rule, even to your own offspring. 

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