Now that the kids are getting older they’re breaking new ground in a lot of ways – Cassidy is learning multiplication and division; Jacob is playing basketball and excelling in his own schoolwork. One first the kids had last month was their first ski (Cassidy) and snowboard (Jacob) lessons.
Held at Four Seasons in Fayetteville, the lessons are given by instructors much younger than I, who have a natural, easy manner about them which automatically sets the kids at ease.
At the beginning of the lesson, I held my breath as I watched my son take his first tumble on his snowboard. Before I knew it, he was upright yet again and bombing down the hill to his next spill. Dusting himself off, he was up and running again.
Similarly, Cassidy took off down the hill at full bore on her skis. Her first fall was pretty spectacular, with a cloud of snow momentarily hiding her from my horrified eyes. It took her a bit longer to get upright than it did Jacob, since she has two sticks attached to her feet compared to his one, larger board.
She nonetheless shrugged off the wipeout and was game for another go. With encouragement from her instructor, she learned to snowplow and stop. Although it seemed she would fall more often than not, as she continued down on subsequent runs it was obvious she was picking up the sport pretty easily.
Jacob, meanwhile, was showing his inherent athleticism by making it down the hill without a single fall. I’m not sure where he gets his balance, but it is definitely not something he inherited from me.
My husband and I both ski ourselves, but have not been on the hill for a some time. Eric is self-taught, and quite good.
My experience learning to ski was quite a bit different from Eric’s and my children’s, however.
At five years old, my parents, both avid skiers, decided to teach my brother John and I to ski. We lived in Clay at the time, in a house on a hill. That hill was to become my ski slope, and the lift was a rope tied around my waist, with one end in my father’s hand pulling me back up the hill.
I remember always being a bit nervous when I skied – as though I could go out of control at any moment. I still kind of feel that way, years later.
That is why I can’t understand my children’s fearlessness; a bravery that I never had. Two lessons into their education, and they both are already getting on and off the chairlift with an ease that took me a good few seasons to feel.
Perhaps it’s the impetuousness of youth, but I don’t think so. Jacob is nervous about going on rollercoasters and Cassidy doesn’t like scary movies, so it isn’t that they are fearless by nature, just in this.
I’m glad they are enjoying going down the hill for a few reasons. First, it is a great way to get fresh air and exercise and allows them another outlet for their boundless energy. Second, it is another thing we can share – not just an activity, but a life sport that can be enjoyed at 7 or 70.
I look forward to many days on the slopes with them – the sun shining on their wind-kissed faces, the crunch of their skis and snowboard in the newly-fallen snow and shouts of “meet you at the bottom” as we all race down the hill.
Each year that they get older, I feel them spending more time with their friends, and less with my husband and I, but activities like this will keep us close. We’ll ski and snowboard, both locally and on trips to Vermont and other areas that boast a lot of the white stuff, making memories that will last a lifetime.
Like my parents did before me, I am now sharing experiences and helping them gain knowledge of activities and worlds that are out there to discover.
As in the Winter Olympics, I am passing the torch – sort of.