I know it’s not Wednesday, but I’m a sucker for alliteration. Plus I’d rather write than scrub peanut butter and jelly off the counter from when my 4-year-old made her own sandwich for lunch today.
I can cautiously say 6-year-old Eddie’s first ski trip was a hit! He wants to go again, and his favorite part was riding the ski lift.
We started by dropping Carla for the day with a fellow at-home dad and his daughter. We met them at the pediatrician’s office during her 4-year-old checkup, walking in as Carla’s little friend was naked and about to get some shots. Oy.
After a 90-minute drive, we arrived at Ski Liberty in Pennsylvania with plenty of time for a brown-bag lunch, slopeside in the ski lodge. By 1 p.m., I dropped him at the ski school building, where I had paid a little extra for someone else to choose his ski and boot rentals and get them on him. I know my kid, and I know myself: if I had done that part, he would have whined, and I would have fumed and ruined the whole day.
I could just hear it:
Eddie: “Owwww, these boots are too tight!”
Me: “Quit whining! PUSH your feet in! Boots are supposed to be tight.”
But it was somebody else’s problem (for an extra eight bucks), and by 1:30, I was shussing down the slopes in solitary bliss. The last time I went skiing, nobody had ever heard of Monica Lewinsky.
Just as my dad had plied me with many a Hershey bar during a ski lift ride, I met Eddie at 3:30 with chocolate at the ready. He was pretty stoic about the whole thing, but he asked when he could ride the ski lift.
First I took him on the “magic carpet,” which is like a 200-foot-long grocery store conveyor belt. I had nabbed the ski instructor for tips of what Eddie to work on, but she gave me a quick smile and a 12-point ski school report card as she headed to her next class. I know myself well enough to know I could suck the joy out of the experience with too much technical blather (stem-christie, anyone? Do they even teach the snowplow anymore?) I boiled it down: push left, turn right; push right, turn left. I ditched my poles and stood just behind Eddie with my skis in a snowplow, my arms wrapped around his middle.
We went slow; we went fast. It didn’t matter. I was just a dad having a good time with his son.
Emboldened by our success on the magic carpet and a compliment from another dad who watched the lesson – wish I’d thought of that, but I was too focused on getting my own skiing in – we went for it on the chair lift.
I tried to keep it simple: scootch forward to the yellow line, reach for the moving chair with your hand, sit down and hold tight. Talking about how to get off at the other end was meaningless information at that point. Halfway up, I revealed how to get off: keep ski tips up, stand when you reach land, push the chair with your hand so it doesn’t hit you. We glided down to Eddie’s squeals of joy. (Maybe it’s really not that complicated, but I’ve seen so many people wipe out getting on and off the lift. I didn’t want my kid to be the reason the ski lift stops.)
We rode the ski lift three times, which was one too many. After 4 p.m., the light and temperature dropped, and Eddie got cold fast. We still had to get down the mountain and return the rental gear. And then my cell phone kept going off with my Lovely Bride checking in and an at-home dad friend texting to hear about the trip. I ignored both, and promised Eddie hot chocolate in the nice warm ski lodge as I hauled his gear and mine – another flashback to skiing with my father: I probably didn’t carry my own gear until I was a teenager.
Finally we got hot chocolate and thawed as we watched the influx of night skiers (what a horrible concept). I had built in lots of down time throughout the day so we wouldn’t be rushed, and I wouldn’t bark at Eddie all day to hurry up. We got home later than expected, but we had a great time: just a dad having a good time with his son.
BY THE NUMBERS (to borrow from MasterCard’s commercials)
Eddie’s First Ski Trip
Ski pants for me at surplus outdoor goods store: $37
Ski rental & lift ticket: $82
Ski camp for kiddo: $70
Ski helmet rental: $12
A successful first ski trip for my first-grader: priceless
P.S. In Pennsylvania, there’s a program where 4th and 5th graders ski and snowboard free with a snow pass from the Pennsylvania Ski Areas Association. You have to purchase the pass in advance, not at the mountain. To get started, click here.