Sunday, February 27, 2011

Skiing is Believing

"There are two lasting bequests we can give our children. One is roots. The other is wings." - Hodding Carter, Jr.

I had to see it for myself. My daughter, doing something that I still to this day have not mastered. Not even close. Something I struggle with. Something I want so desperately to perform well, or at least adequately.

Skiing. Just another thing I want to be good at, so I can enjoy it with my daughter once she inevitably gets good at it.

I missed her first day of skiing and heard how great she did on the hill. Now, I am not being delusional here... my daughter is no Lindsay Vonn... yet. By "great," I mean she didn't resist, have a meltdown, or even refuse to put on her boots and skis. Believe me, those are victories in and of themselves. She went up the magic carpet, and down the hill, by herself... without falling. And she liked it. She smiled. No tears. And she did it again and again.

So the next day, I had to see it for myself. I waited... waited for the Peanut to emerge from the cabin in which her day care was held. For one hour a day, these bundled up little bundles of joy would slowly stomp out, one by one, clunking along in ski boots. A difficult task for adults, let alone someone who just learned how to walk a little less than three years ago. If there is a necessary evil that is more awkward, clumsy, and tiring than walking in ski boots, I'm not sure what it is.

They trudged, step by step, out the door and down the ramp and into the snow. We finally spotted the Peanut, her wildly long blonde hair desperately escaping from underneath her pink nylon ski hat. Matching pink ski pants and pink ski jacket completed the ensemble.

I saw her wait for one of the instructors. She always wants to be accompanied by an adult. That's a little bit of the only child in her. It's also a little bit of the "I always want to be first to know what's going on" in her. It's not so much a hesitation... but more of a confirmation.

She was put in her skis and then shuffled along to the magic carpet. She spotted us while shuffling, but she didn't stop. She kept shuffling. Score another victory for my little girl.

She smiled at us, squinting in the bright early morning sun and snow... her parents having failed to equip her with ski goggles or even sunglasses. Oops. And there she went. Up the conveyer belt that acted as a ski lift on this tiny hill, her little head staring straight ahead. She disembarked and shuffled to the clearing at the top of the hill.

She put her mittened thumb in her mouth, smiled while still squinting, and glided effortlessly down the hill. She had no form, no technique, no real instruction. But there she went. By herself. An instructor caught her as she reached the bottom.

As she shuffled back into line to do it all over again, a chorus of frenzied cheers from her adoring fans - six of us - greeting her. She just kept smiling, squinting, sucking her mittened thumb.

I wish it could be that simple for me. That stress-free. That pure. That joyful. It is at times. But every time I fall, every time I catch myself before I fall, every time I think I'm going to fall but actually make the right move to turn or to stop, I think... there I am... one step closer to not making a complete fool of myself in front of my daughter. Still, in just a couple of years time, she's going to be at least as good as if not better than I am now.

That's all we can wish for as parents... for our children to do better than we've done.

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