When I was 15, I learned to ski. I realized this weekend that I have been skiing for 49 years. One would think that I would be faster than a speeding bullet and able to leap tall moguls in a single bound. Nah, I am just happy that I get down the mountain in one piece. But I did find one superpower in skiing, the connection with family. And now there is another skier in our family!
In the 1970s, my dad decided that he would learn to ski, and thus downhill skiing became our household sport. Well, golf was truly my parents’ sport but I rebelled against that boring game. Back to Skiing – We were only 4-hours from the steep vertical heights of Killington in the Vermont slopes. Mom would hang in the lodge (I hope I thanked her for doing that all those years), and my brother, dad, and I would traverse the mountains.
You Want Me to Ski That Mountain?!
My dad recalls one moment when he entered the lodge, and my mom said, “Where’s Vickie?” Hmmm, good question. A moment flashed between them when dad realized he didn’t know. He also said I’m not going back on that trail! Moments? Hours? Days? Later, they saw a figure trudging down the slope, skis in hand rather than foot. Spoiler alert, I survived the Vermont hill; perhaps my ego was a bit bruised.
In the early 2000s, my youngest daughter Carly and my son Alex and I started our own skiing tradition. Alex soon gave up the sport, or better said, his knee gave up. Leaving Carly and me to continue the tradition as a Mother-Daughter team.
The Mother-Daughter team started when Carly was a teenager, and I was not. I was faster than her at the beginning. Age did not matter; skiing became the common denominator.
Skiing “When I’m 64”
Now that I am 64 (Hey Paul McCartney, I sing that song all the time!) and Carly is 34, we still share the thrill of the sport. Yes, she is much faster than me and better at everything, including navigating the routes. And yes, sometimes (all the time), I feel like she is in charge on the slopes, and I follow along. A heartening family role reversal. But we are out there in subzero weather, she on her board and me on my skis. Enjoying the thrill and sharing the connection between mother and daughter.
Another Skier in the Family
And now there is another skier in the family. Our grandson Brady, Carly’s son, took his first group lesson this weekend. He appears to enjoy the sport. So much so that he thinks he is done learning and can just go down the hill. Yes, the six-year-old is ready to ski the top of the mountain with no skills. But that is Brady (a family trait he shares with his Papa Mitch). For now, all my 49 years of experience are going on closed ears.
Telling Brady, “I have skied for most of my life!” doesn’t mean anything to Brady. I can hear him replying, “ I have been skiing most of my life too, Nana!” We did put him on skis when he was just over 3 years old.
I would repeat, “Brady you need to traverse the hill with your skis in a pizza slice shape!” Brady’s reply was consistent, “I got this Nana!” as he would ski straight down the hill. I finally negotiated a deal where he would try it my way once and then we would try it his way. He agreed to the terms of the deal but reneged on his end. Carly threw up her hands and said, “see you at the bottom.” (The bottom being a few feet from our drama.) Eventually, I held Brady between my skis and demonstrated the traverse method.
Brady thought why bother doing this when he can just go straight down.
DONE DONE DONE
The negotiations continued until the buzzer in my head went off as if to say, “DONE!” “Done!” Done!” Carly’s buzzer had gone off a while back but I didn’t hear it. Too bad because now we had to coax Brady off the slope while he was protesting, in a supine position on the snow.
We will try again and again because we all want this to work, including Brady.
A new skier in the family, a continued connection, a lifeline from great-grandparent to grandparent to parent to grandchild. I hope Brady and I find a middle ground where he can do the more challenging peaks and I can still ski alongside him. Before he gets to the mogul jumping, speed skier phase, while I am still navigating the summits-to-base stage.
I am looking forward to introducing skiing to our grandson Griffin (hopefully, his knees are better than his dad’s) and our granddaughter Noa. Noa, at age two, does not like snow or wind (she and Uncle Alex have that in common!), which is not a great endorsement for future skiing.
Find Your Connection
Skiing is generational in our family. Another way we found to keep a connection. Finding a common interest and pursuing it with your children or family member holds the link alive. Whatever commonality you seek, whether it be sports, theater, books, hiking, art, or a myriad of other opportunities. Try to find that connection that sparks the bond between you and your people. It’s worth the effort.
BACK TO SCHOOL
Attention Special Educators, Therapists, and Professionals working with families. Back To School with a new Perspective! If You haven’t already purchased, Raising Jess: A Story of Hope – Please consider a copy for yourself, a friend, a teacher, a therapist, a mom, a sibling, or a book lover…
“As a professional in the field of developmental disabilities for over 40 years, I learned things I didn’t know. I encourage others in the field to read Raising Jess a Story of Hope to help understand the families and individuals you work with.” (Amazon)
“This book is a must-read for anyone looking to learn more about special needs families and their day-to-day challenges and triumphs or simply wants to immerse themselves in a compassionate and celebratory world.” (Amazon)