You know how when you try to put on your kid's pants, no matter how many times you tap the left leg, she raises the right leg to put into the wrong leg hole? And you're like "Left leg, left leg, left leg, LEFT LEG!!!!!!!" And then she falls to one side and tries to use your head for balance, only she pulls on your hair and then somehow gets her toe caught in a pants pocket and you're like, "JUST FOCUS, GODDAMNIT!!!!"
Imagine that X1000.
That's teaching your four-year-old to ski.
Don't get me wrong— IF your child enjoys skiing (which Mazzy did), there are moments of sheer bliss too. The wind whipping through your child's hair, a huge smile across her face, screaming, "Look at me, Mom! I'm doing it!!!!"
It can be a beautiful thing.
Basically, teaching a child to ski will be one of the most rewarding, frustrating, frightening, exhilarating, exhausting moments of your life.
And by moment, I mean at least five hours, two of which will be dragging everyone's ski gear through a parking lot while your child complains that her boots "make walking HARD".
Mike decided the first lesson of skiing was that everyone had to carry their own skis. (If you look really hard at the picture below, you can actually see a young Mike being forced to carry his own skis by his father on his first family ski trip.)
This lasted about five minutes before it became clear that in order for this lesson to be taught effectively, we'd get to the mountain just as the ski lifts were closing for the day.
Also, Mazzy was not having it. And if Mazzy was going to hate skiing, I wanted it to be because she actually hated skiing, not because she didn't want to carry her stuff.
When we got to the bunny slope, the first task was fastening Mazzy's ski boots into her skis. Not as easy as it sounds. Especially, when your child decides standing is not an option and chooses to go completely limp instead. Mike was trying to fasten her boots while I was literally holding all her weight with one arm. While we were both wearing our own skis, mind you. On an incline.
Then the ski crossing started.
And the panic.
We kept having to lift her up entirely out of the snow to disentangle her legs, while she's screaming "I CAN'T DO IT!!!!"
FYI- skis pretty much double a kid's weight, making lifting no easy task.
As much exercise as you might find downhill skiing by yourself, I assure you, teaching a child to ski on a bunny slope burns 200X as many calories. (Don't worry, those calories will be easily replenished when you inhale a chili filled bread bowl, a huge chocolate chip cookie and a hot chocolate at the lodge later on.)
Finally, finally, we got Mazzy with both skis pointed down the mountain. She took off. Easy peasy. And freakin' LOVED IT.
It wasn't until day two that she learned all about the joys of stopping, so on the first day, she would just take off as fast as a person can go on a 10 degree slope and than make a huge turn at the bottom to stop.
It was pretty impressive.
Even more impressive was the time she decided that instead of stopping, she would just exit the bunny slope area by flying right through the two foot opening in the fence at the bottom of the hill.
Luckily, she fell before she hit the curb that would have sent her flying straight into the parking lot.
That's one way to give a mom a heart attack.
You should have heard me screaming "PIZZA! PIZZA! PIZZZZZZAAAAAA!" like I was a Little Caesar's ad from the early '90s. (If you don't ski, "pizza" is the shape they tell kids to make with their skis so they can learn to slow down.)
Once she got the hang of it, Mazzy was hilarious. Telling the magic carpet operator that she was the fastest skiier on the mountain and then demanding that he watch her ski down. Nothing like a shot of confidence.
One time, she fell and banged the snow with her fist in frustration. It was so dramatic, Mike and started laughing.
"IT'S NOT FUNNY!!!!!"
"I know, sweetie. I'm sorry."
Another time, Mazzy decided something looked interesting on the side of the magic carpet and shifted her skis so that one leg went off the side and the other one kept moving. She tumbled to the ground, Mike was behind her and tried to save her, falling as well and then I tried to save them both and ended up creating a four person pile-up which included a random kid who will probably be forever traumatized by the crotch of my snowpants. All the while, I'm screaming, "SOMEBODY STOP THIS THING!!!!" because there is no way to get up while half your body is still heading up the mountain.
I've skiied since I was three. If you told me fifteen years ago that one day I would be in a massive collision on the bunny slope, I never would have believed you.
For the next few days, we switched off between putting Mazzy in ski school and taking her on the mountain ourselves.
Ski school was from 9am-3:30pm and Mazzy absolutely LOVED it. That was a huge win, because Mike and I got to ski the real slopes while she was in school. Plus, hopefully the ski instructors would be the fine people who would teach Mazzy how to turn and stop, since she definitely wasn't taking any instruction from us.
On the last day, after Mazzy insisted she was ready, I decided to take her up in the chair lift by myself, while Mike watched Harlow at the bottom.
I'm not going to lie— I was terrified. You have to hold your child in an open chair 50 feet above the ground and just trust she is not going to do anything crazy. If it wasn't for the fact that my parents took me skiing at such a young age, I probably wouldn't have attempted it.
But Mazzy sat still, didn't seem to mind my death grip across her legs and got off the lift without incidence. I let her hold onto my poles the whole way down as we made big wide turns together. Every second reminding me of how my dad taught me to ski when I was little.
It's been forever since I skiied with my parents. I barely remember skiing with my mother because she always skiied the easier trails with my younger sister, who never took to skiing like I did. At some point, my skiing abilities passed both my parents and I prefered to ski the double diamonds on my own than stick with the family.
After Mazzy and I skiied down the slope a few times, Mike took the kids back to the house so I could ski by myself for a bit like I used to. I went up the lift alone, dismounted at the top, picked my slope and skiied down, getting in line for the lift once again.
I wish I could say how much I enjoyed the rare occasion to do something I love by myself, but honestly, it felt kind of lonely.
Ten years ago, I don't think skiing by myself was a huge contrast to whatever else was going on in my life. Now, it was eerily quiet. Gone were the emotions of cheering on my child, praying she didn't hurt herself and managing her expectations. Gone were the glances exchanged with Mike, whether they be pride, joy or frustration. The laughter as Harlow hobbled in her snow boots trying to keep up.
Skiing alone just didn't give me the same kind of exhilaration I remembered.
Instead, I found myself excited for the time when Mazzy would join me on the tougher slopes and we would all ski together as a family.
However brief that time might be.
Bonus VERY SHORT video of Mazzy on the slopes! Instagram only lets you do :15 seconds.