We are beach people. Ever since I can remember, my life has included lovely trips to the beach. Not every summer, but often.
We are not ski people. I’d skied twice before ever in my life, about a decade ago. Dan has skied a few times. For Jo, Benjamin & Liam, this was their first time.
We have no idea what we’re doing. And I mean that in a grand sense — not just on the slopes. We are complete novices, utterly clueless. We know nothing. For instance, we didn’t know that renting skis, getting on a bus and going to a ski lesson is one of the levels of hell. There’s just so much stuff, and it’s all awkward and unwieldy. The boots are horrible to walk in and everywhere you walk is slippery. The kids can’t carry their own stuff and all the skis and boots and things are in addition to all the normal day-out-of-the-house stuff you need. It’s a nightmare. We were all exhausted before we even got to our lesson.
I’m sure there are ways to make it easier. It reminds me of going for a day at the beach . . . only this was our first time, so I think we got everything wrong. With the beach, over the years, we’ve learned. We know what to bring and what to leave, we know how to pick a place that’ll be as convenient as possible, we know what parts are going to be hard and in what ways. We don’t know any of that about skiing. We don’t know how to make it easier or how to prepare ourselves for the hard parts.
Liam never even got on his skis. He fell apart pretty much as soon as we arrived for our lesson and although he recovered, he opted out of participating. He & Dan spent the length of the lesson in the hotel lounge next door, being warm.
Jo, B & I endured two hours of torture known as a “beginner ski lesson”. Although we all learned at least a little something, and watching B experience (and enjoy) skiing for the first time was pretty wonderful, it was a rough two hours. Physically, it’s tough — just standing in ski boots for a few hours is a challenge, and trying to make the skis do what you want is harder and takes muscles I don’t typically use. It was made worse by having an instructor who was unenthusiastic about teaching children and beginners. I starting checking the time about 20 minutes in to the 2 hour lesson. We got through, but it was not a great time. (Except for B, who truly enjoyed himself. He especially liked the “bumps” — little moguls. When Jo & I tried that, we fell over. B has no fear.)
While Dan & Liam warmed up inside, one of the other ski school instructors came in to get one of the other kids warmed up. They all chatted a bit, and Dan ended up asking her, “This is so hard. There’s so much stuff, and managing it with the kids is so hard. How do people do this?” And she said, “You suffer.”
Which answers that.
But also, people here who bring their kids skiing seem to have mostly separate vacations. The parents drop the kids off at the ski school in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon. The school even provides lunch. It’s like daycare, with skiing. The parents go and have grown up skiing time, and the kids have their own thing. That’s really not what I want. I want us to spend the time together, even if it’s not totally exciting for all of us. (Although after today, I certainly understand their choice a little better.)
B seems to like skiing, so I don’t think we’re done. (Talking to him this evening about sone logistics for the next few days, he actually said, “Oh Mommy, NOTHING could stop me from skiing!”) We’ll do some more tomorrow, and we’ll see what else our weekend holds. If we keep this up, we’ll get better at it — and not just at the skiing. It HAS to get easier. Because today was really hard, and we were literally huffing, puffing and groaning as we hiked back up the hill to our hotel this afternoon. The skiing part was kind of fun though, and I certainly get why the sport is attractive — this is a beautiful place, and I do love being outside to enjoy it. I just wish we didn’t have to “suffer” to enjoy it.