Lessons from Ski School – Part 3

Lessons from Ski School

“I’m a little nervous.”

Everett’s voice emerge so soft and so quiet from the back seat of the car. It was the complete opposite of the usual loud and brash voice that I’m used to hearing from him.

“What was that buddy? You’re a little nervous?”

I turned to look at him. His little eyebrows were deeply furrowed.

“It’s OK. It’s normal to be a little nervous when you’re trying something new or going to a new place. But it’s just like last year’s ski school except in Vermont.”

His eyes flickered to mine and then away to stare out the window.

ski school.jpg

For the past three years, we have taken the kids skiing.

Every year, I secretly hope that my kids will go running and skipping off to ski school without looking back at us and immediately dive into the fun.

Every year, my kids hesitate and (oftentimes) cry when we drop them off.

Every year, I have to remind myself that my kids are the slow-to-warm-up kind.

Every year my kids leave ski school with a big smile on their face and declare that they love skiing.

Every year, we start this cycle over again.

Everett skiing

The day before they started ski school, we took the kids to get their rental equipment, showed them the mountain where we’d be skiing (this year at Okemo Mountain in Vermont) and explained how they would be in the same program together, just different levels.

The night before their lessons began, both Jasper and Everett declared how they were so excited to ski and couldn’t wait. Ed and I actually thought that we would short circuit the cycle this year.

Yet, when the time actually came to walk into the ski school building and to follow the teacher to their respective groups, tears billowed behind their eyes until they flooded down their cheeks. The first day, it was Everett. He’s older and more aware than he was last year and the idea of walking off with a stranger wasn’t lost on him. Mostly, he didn’t like that he was on the opposite of the room from his brother.

The second day, it was Jasper. After a great first day, his instructor wanted him to move up a level to Comet Cruiser 2. Jasper was nervous. He wanted to stick with what he knew and was comfortable with. As I signed him into ski school, he shrunk down and curled up into a ball by the wall and started crying. A teacher came over and asked him what he was nervous about and explained what they would be doing in this new level.

kids skiing

The Chinese mother in me wants to stand firm and to not coddle my kids. I want them to be independent and to not show any vulnerability. I want them to be strong. I know that within 5 minutes, they will be laughing and smiling as if the tears never happened.

The mother in me recognizes what incredible expectations we place on our children. We expect them to walk off by themselves and immerse themselves in a new situation with new people without any hesitation when most adults would be apprehensive. Or at least introverts like me.

I realize that part of the reason why I want my kids to assimilate easily is because I don’t want them to have to struggle with social situations like these, making friends and fitting in that I often did as a child. I want my kids to bypass all of the hard stuff even though I know the we grow and learn from the hard stuff.

Okemo Mountain

My kids emerged from ski school declaring their love of skiing (again). Everett even said that he wanted to be a ski instructor when he grows up.

While I breathed a sigh of relief upon hearing this, I also know that I shouldn’t expect to forego the hesitation next year. But each year, I’m learning how to handle the situation and how to ease my kids into new situations better. At least I think I am.

You may also like these posts:
Lessons from Ski School – Part 1
Lessons from Ski School – Part 2
Little Surfer Dudes


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  1. says

    This reminds me of the ordeal I used to go through with my boys and the swimming pool. Each year when the weather started to warm up and we’d get ready to swim they old be scared of the water, and we’d have to start the process of learning to swim all over again. Eventually, it seemed to stick and they loved the water and could swim like fish. Which, I’m sure will happen with your boys. It’s hard when you’re young and you don’t get to practice something all the time. You lose your confidence. Heck, it happens to adults too!
    Debbie @ Live from La Quinta recently posted..Let’s Put This Week to Bed. In (Mostly) PicturesMy Profile

  2. says

    I can’t believe we were at the same mountain this weekend – both putting our kids in ski school! We were actually on the Jackson Gore side which is probably why we didn’t run into one another. Bummer!!
    I can’t imagine how hard it is to see your kids crying and sending them off with “strangers.” It’s definitely hard but, at least my boys this year went off without an issue. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t hard for ME though!! I wanted to stand and watch over them and my husband dragged me away saying we would only interfere. He’s right (of course) but the mama in you has a hard time!!
    So glad they came back happy :-)
    Allie recently posted..The Rundown – Vermont Ski WeekMy Profile

  3. says

    You seem to have found the right approach that works for your kids – you recognize their anxiety, they tell you about it, you encourage them through it, and they end up enjoying it. Maybe it doesn’t seem so great while it’s happening, but parenting is messy. :-)
    Coco (@Got2Run4Me) recently posted..Running In CopenhagenMy Profile

  4. says

    I love everything about this post! The pictures, the thoughts behind it, the happy endings for the little skiers! I especially love the way you described the internal struggle between the Tiger mom (she’s in all of us!) and the mom who wants to wrap our children in our arms and never let them go. It’s a balancing act, and we learn as we go when to hold tight and when to let go…and sometimes give a little push!
    Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama recently posted..PRO Compression Marathon Sock Review and GiveawayMy Profile

  5. says

    I loved this post! Good on you, awareness and anlyzing a situation is half the battle when raising our kids and you did this great! My daughter takes skiing lessons as well. It’s such a great activity that a family can do together. Mind you, our ski areas not nearly as beautiful as those!
    Robin recently posted..9 Weeks TodayMy Profile

  6. says

    “I want my kids to bypass all of the hard stuff even though I know the we grow and learn from the hard stuff.” I love this, Christine. It is so, so true. Your ski school adventure sounds like a great family tradition. Thanks for sharing with us.
    Shana Norris recently posted..Weekly Menu Plan.My Profile

  7. says

    I think you are too.
    This is amazing. I have felt so torn between getting impatient and wanting the kids to just DO things, and then realizing it’s a lot of projection because so many times, I don’t just DO things.
    My kids are braver than I am, a lot of the time.
    Tamara recently posted..Sunshine Feels Like Being Two.My Profile

  8. says

    I love your ski school posts and you swim lessons post – because you are so honest with what’s going on inside of *you* during these moments and that toggle between wanting things for our kids that we think will be good for them – but also being aware enough to know they may not accept situations the way we’d like them to. I love how you step back just enough to let your boys find their own way in these situations but you’re still close enough to support them.
    Ilene recently posted..Maybe This Could Be BigMy Profile

  9. says

    Love this! How to be the mama who is encouraging yet not forceful and always supportive even when my child is crying before going into something I know she will love… It’s something I learn and relearn and learn again. But we’re all getting there.
    Tricia recently posted..Naptime superstitionsMy Profile

  10. says

    Your kids sound so much like me and my siblings when we were skiing back in the day! Let me tell you though, we moved on to LOVING going to ski school and pretty much would be running out the door at 6am, when ski school didn’t start until 9! Your kids will soon enough want to go, I promise! Hey, I even wound up going to boarding school FOR SNOWBOARDING! ha!
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  11. says

    I loved this post Christine. You touched on things I would be feeling too–you want your kids to be immersed in this positive experience and not sheltered from it, but you feel bad because it is kind of overwhelming thing to do. I’m glad they enjoyed it. I think I remember feeling similarly about ski school when I was little, but now I’m so glad my parents pushed me to learn. I love going to the mountains now.
    Devon recently posted..Winter’s LateMy Profile


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