Introducing your child to the pleasures of skiing is no small responsibility. Mess it up and they may never want to try again. As a service to other parents, I offer these handy tips. Don’t take them skiing for the first time when it’s pouring rain with freezing fog on the mountain. Don’t outfit your young charge in non-waterproof hat and gloves. Don’t allow your ski pole to poke them in the face and draw blood whilst towing them with it. Don’t allow them to face-plant in the snow on the first attempt to disengage the chairlift. Don’t let them rely on you to get up even if they fall fifty times on one trip down the bunny hill. Don’t drop both poles and gloves when attempting to get skis back on. Don’t say, “Just don’t cross your skis,” when they can’t stop crossing their skis. Don’t allow them to lock on your arm and pull you both towards a collision with a chairlift pole.
Do give up, when your child is soaked to the bone, crying, bleeding (a tiny bit), demoralized, disillusioned, and unable to reattached their skis. Do re-consider your decision not to hire a trained professional to give your child lessons.
That’s the way it happened to my six-year-old son and me a couple of days before Christmas. I remember that long brutal, ski-less trek back to lodge to meet up with our third generation-my ex-Ski-Patrol-father-thinking perhaps some warm food and a video game would smooth things over so we can slink down the mountain and pretend this all never happened.
To my shock, after lunch we did not pack it up. Instead my son wanted “to try a couple more times.” After a little more instruction in the art of snowplow he was soon urging me to “get out of the way.” Next he was zooming down the bunny hill with ease and scowling at me a couple hours later when I said it was time to go home.
My son’s persistence had magically transformed me from disaster dad to genius dad and I was reminded why my father had moved us to Spokane from Minneapolis 30 years ago: it’s the skiing, baby.