It's Time to Ski!
Having grown up in a tropical country, I've always envied people who can ski, especially kids; I love the way they schuss down the slopes with no fear whatsoever. So two years ago, when the kids started clamoring to learn to ski and snowboard, I really wanted to let them -- but we decided to wait and see. The 2 main drawbacks in my mind were safety and cost; safety, because neither Alfie nor I are skiers so there was no way we could teach them or protect them or even accompany them, and cost, because, well, skis and snowboards and lift tickets and helmets and lessons cost a lot.
Now here we are, two years later, having just completed our first family ski trip and already looking forward to planning another one! So what has changed?
First of all, having the kids two years older has drastically improved my level of comfort with the whole thing. Now that the boys are seven, they are old enough to take regular group lessons at most resorts. They are stronger and more in control physically, but more importantly they are level-headed enough to listen and follow instructions.
Second, Alfie and I decided to take the plunge (literally) and take ski lessons ourselves so we could ski with them (or at least keep an eye on them). My memories of every ski trip I've taken in my life (I can count them on one hand, and the last one was over 15 years ago) have been laced with fear -- fear of going fast, fear of going downhill, fear of twisting my knee, fear of falling off a ski lift -- so this was a pretty big step for me. It was an even bigger step for Alfie, who was never skied in his life. Granted, I'm more of a coward than he is about heights and speed, and he's very confident about his sense of balance, but still, the idea of falling, even into snow, is daunting when you're, um, in your middle age and suffering from constant bodily aches and pains. But we realized there was no way the kids could go up on a ski lift and down the slopes on their own.
Third, skiing and snowboarding will always carry inherent risks, but I figure we can mitigate them by wearing helmets and following proper safety rules (i.e. always ski with a partner, observe right-of-way rules on the slopes, ski only the slopes you can handle and for goodness sakes, 3Po, PLEASE hold on to something when you're on the damn ski lift!!!) .
Finally, I know skiing and snowboarding are always going to be expensive, but I've decided to compare it to a day at Disneyland: it costs less per person per day, you have a great time and it keeps you fit. We've also decided to stick to the smaller, cheaper ski resorts, because there's no point in paying $70 for a lift ticket if you can only do green runs (or, if we're being optimistic, green and blue) anyway! The next time we go, we're also going to look into multi-day lift tickets and multi-day rentals (I've heard renting from a shop, not from the ski resort, can be cheaper) to save money. Anyway, we're not planning to open up a whole new expense item on our family budget just for skiing; skiing has merely joined the list of options we have for treating ourselves to a fun family getaway during the year.
Really, not much has changed in two years -- mostly my attitude. And I'm glad I changed my attitude, because much to my surprise, I really enjoyed skiing with Alfie and the kids. Sure, I'm still a bit nervous (I think the kids and Alfie are embarrassed to go on a ski lift with me because I still get freaked out). But I do love the challenge, and the sense of accomplishment I feel when I master a new skill and face my fears head-on. I love the burst of pride I feel when I see my kids doing so well (maybe someone else is watching my kids and admiring their fearlessness, the way I admired those other kids, so long ago!). And I love spending time with them in the great outdoors. Here's hoping our financial and physical health stay good, so we can keep enjoying this new activity together!
See you on the slopes....
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