My Ski Buddy

I’ve already become lax in my writing duties, but I promise I’ve been busy and / or lazy since the new year dawned not so long ago.

But not really busy with anything house related, which is sort of the theme of this blog. Maybe that’s what has been keeping me away from the keyboard. That’s a (not so) good excuse at least.

Well, later today my brother and I will work to finish the trim carpentry in the basement, so I will share that with you in a near future entry. Plus I’ve got my latest job to tell you about. Meanwhile, loyal reader, I will share with you this random tidbit that may or may not be of interest.

I Don’t Wanna

Saturday my wife came home from our son’s skating class to inform me that he and one of his best friends made plans to go skiing on Sunday. This would be awesome, if we were actually a skiing family. Which we are not. I was a skier at one time, but fifteen years of marriage, family life, finances, hobbies, work etc. had taken its toll on participating in that sporting endeavor.

I used to ski every weekend from around age six or seven. The last time I skied was probably ten years ago.

The reason my son’s impromptu ski trip is a hassle is because we’d have to rent equipment, buy lift tickets, go out in the cold. I had visions of my son not wanting to go, AFTER I rented / bought everything. Add to all that my selfish reasons to not want to go such as my knee has absolutely been killing me for a month now (there’s something seriously wrong with it), selfish desire to pursue my “to do” list, and lastly going out in the cold.

Sunday morning I worked it out with my anxiety, that we would make a concerted effort to take the high road. While I asked occasionally of my son, whether or not he wanted to still go skiing, I tried not to persuade him either way. I used my hour of church time to look at the positives of the situation and pray to god that I found the strength to be a good dad.

Upon getting home it was basically time to go. We were meeting his friend and his friend’s dad at around noon. I was hoping my son would change his mind. Maybe we wouldn’t find all his ski worthy clothing. Maybe the wife would volunteer to go. Maybe my knee would literally pop out of my leg. Nope. We were going, albeit both son and father were each reluctant to some degree.

Fortunately for us, the ski “resort” is about five minutes from our home. It’s actually not even a mountain. Just the side of a river valley with chairlifts on it. In fact it may even be just a landfill; I’m not sure. Regardless, it’s what passes as a ski resort around here.

Being just his third time out, the bunny slope was our focus, so the rest was all sort of irrelevant anyway. He had taken two lessons in the years before this one. But I’d never taken him skiing.

The plan was for me to walk along and keep an eye on my micro skier; no need to get skis or a pass. I heard that’s what the other dad does when his son snowboards. There’s a short conveyor belt that takes the skiers and snowboarders up to the top of el bunny slope. We would follow along on foot if need be.

Upon arriving in the parking lot, my kiddo and I got out of the Toyota and walked up to the slopes to get “the lay of the land” so to speak. Seemed straightforward enough: lodge, snow, bunny slope, people skiing and snowboarding. I was glad to see they had a conveyor instead of a tow rope. Tow ropes are a recipe for skiing disaster for anyone other than maybe professional wrestling ballerinas.

The thing was, right out of the gate he said he would only ski if he could have ski poles. Logical me tried to explain that kids now-a-days learn to ski without poles (for what reason I don’t know). Then he said he wanted to snowboard like his friend if he couldn’t have poles. Well I have no idea how to snowboard. At least with skiing I could direct him, and feign at teaching him how to ski in a somewhat less damaging manner than snowboarding.

After a trip in and out of the equipment rental area, and me almost achieving my dream of being back on the couch drinking coffee, we negotiated an agreement whereby he would rent skis and poles, thus avoiding the whole snowboard thing.

The only other condition imposed, surprisingly imposed by myself, was that I was going to rent skis too.

A hundred and fifty dollars later, we were good to go.

Ski Day

It was actually a great day to ski, weather wise. And the crowd was pretty light.

I helped my little guy get his skis on, and rattled off some basics of skiing. Basically I said “snowplow” and “wedge” a bunch of times. He then proceeded to slide into a little dip culvert thing, and we had our first lesson on standing back up. Up down, up down a few times and then we were ready to head towards the conveyor.

Since I was on skis, it was easier for me to both show my son how to ski and also to keep up with him. Navigating the bunny slope was fairly easy. I spent our time there essentially skiing backwards the entire time, which is super easy to do with contemporary short skis. When he built up too much speed and started to go out of control (past me!), I was able to quickly skate up and catch him, slow him down or scoop him up. Or pick him and all his equipment parts up.

Surprisingly, my knee didn’t bother me at all that day. Whatever is wrong with it, it doesn’t hurt when I’m walking or skiing. It felt great; other than when I needed to get down to put little skis back on or pick up scattered poles. Then I cried like a little girl.

Eventually my son’s friend showed up and they were able to chat while riding up the conveyor belt, sharing skiing “war stories” as kids do.

It felt really nice to be back on skis. I had forgotten how much I enjoy it. It’s funny how little steps in life take you away, and make you forget things you once liked doing. I like the snow, the sights, just the whole skiing vibe. As a bonus I think skiing counts as exercise, so win win.

But the absolute best part was that I got to ski with my son for the first time ever. And we had a blast. He progressively got better with each trip down the hill. He was doing a good job, picking up the idea of snowplowing and stopping, and even turning by the end (to a certain extent). He really picked it up quickly, just like when he learned to ride his bike last year. He’s a quick learner. He was proud of himself, and I was super proud of him.

A few high fives were exchanged that afternoon.

Despite the cold, two and a half hours went by in a flash. Really the thing that forced us from the slopes was the increasing number of people. Ski school classes started, making it difficult for me to stay ahead of my guy.

We both agreed we’d had enough for the day. With that we picked up our gear, returned it back to the rental center, reunited with our boots from the storage locker and were on our way back home to mom, brother and hot chocolate.

It was a good day.

I’m glad we went. We were both glad we went.

I don’t know if my new ski buddy will remember that day, but I surely will forever. I’ve done a lot in forty plus years, but pretty much none of it is as valuable to me as getting to ski with him for the first time together. I don’t have to tell you how little things like those hours we spent on a bunny hill mean so much in life. For every story someone has or will ever have about accomplishing something at work, winning a prize or being honored for some nonsensical achievement I will have that afternoon spent skiing with my son.

A handful of days in your life you’re gonna shine like a g**damn comet. Do yourself a favor and learn to recognize them as they happen.

I’d like to think I’m learning that lesson. That day I was shining on the inside the entire time.

It’s nice to write this story down, so hopefully some day he’ll get to read it and understand; god willing, when he gets a little ski buddy of his own. But for me I didn’t really need to write it. I’m pretty sure I’ve got it memorized. It’ll shine on inside me for here on out.







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