Both kids are enrolled in full-day ski school. It may be difficult for me to separate from them, entrust them to someone else's care while learning a potentially dangerous sport. It feels a bit like throwing them into the deep end of the pool but I guess that's usually the most surefire way to learn to swim. Or maybe that's the most surefire way to drown? I'm not sure of my own message there.
I hope their first ski school experience is nothing like mine. Below is an essay I wrote in my memoir writing class last year about that very subject. The exercise was to write about an experience you had as a child, in 300 words or less, in which a valuable lesson was learned.
Here's hoping this isn't foreshadowing.
In my family, there was one truth: skiing was life. As a young child, I was regularly handed to relatives as my family sped off with skis strapped to the car and maniacal looks on their faces. They would sometimes yell, "See ya Monday!" as the car peeled away but often forgot, perhaps distracted by the fluorescent hues of their ski jackets.
At the age of six, I was finally old enough to join them. I was put in ski school with a gentle instructor named Ruth. I aced the chairlift dismount when most kids faceplanted in the snowbank. It seemed to confirm I’d arrived at my destiny.
As Ruth led us down the bunny slope, a snails pace trail of kids in ugly snowplow formation, I knew she was holding me back. I was a Jones and Joneses skied like the wind. But as I broke from the pack and headed down the hill alone, I soon realized I was not a gazelle like Mom nor a perfectly tucked racer like Dad; I was more a hurtling projectile headed straight for a tree. I don’t remember the impact but do remember being pulled in Ski Patrol’s rescue toboggan.
My parents saw a sign at the top of the chairlift: “Dave and Judy Jones, please contact Ski Patrol.” They decided it wasn't addressed to them because they have very common names and honestly, what kind of trouble could I have gotten into so quickly? They finally called when upon each successive trip up the chairlift, the message grew by another exclamation point. Then they learned another family truth: it was a spiral fracture of the tibia.
Good DNA does not replace effort. And as we learned the next year, when we saw the offending tree had been removed from the bunny slope, the hubris of a child can sometimes lead to the killing of trees.
Wish us luck, and see you on the flipside.