I remember the first time I was able to set Ruby down on her feet, Margot standing next to her. I had two bi-pedal children. I was so accustomed to operating with one or two kids on me, using three fingers to carry groceries, wipe a nose and open the car door. To have two arms and 10 fingers felt like a superpower.
Last fall, Andy asked me if I wanted to talk about getting a season pass to our local ski hill. I haven’t had a pass in 10 years and I grimaced at his suggestion, holding onto the throes of hand-holding, bunny hills and hot cocoa in the lodge. But then I noticed my two arms and 10 fingers, our daughters running around in clothes they picked out and put on themselves. Maybe it is time. We made a plan: if Andy sold a painting or two at his November exhibit, we’d buy passes. The universe delivered on opening night and ta da! The Clines are skiing this year.
Skiing seems the perfect metaphor for our current parenting season: fast, independent, breezy, falling and getting back up. Every single weekend, Andy and I can be heard having an exchange like this:
Me: Did you SEE Ruby’s turns on that run?
Andy: Totally. And did you see Margot ski those trees and take a jump at the bottom?!
Us: Beaming, smiling, amazed, proud.
The progression is just so dang exciting! Margot is skiing black diamonds (!!!) and Ruby isn’t far off. We ski together. For hours.
And the chairlift is one of my favorite parts. Good, rich conversations with my daughters as they lean their little bodies into mine.
Another new part to this year on skis: skiing with friends – exercising my own independence, falling and getting back up. Have you ever felt anti-social and insecure, even with your favorite people? Do you have dreams about having a six pack instead of stretch marks? Do you remember when you lived with three men in a studio apartment with one jar of peanut butter and no furniture? I am over at Mamalode today with an essay about these things.
Cliché and so, heart-achingly true: it feels like yesterday and a life-time ago that I nursed Ruby in the lodge while Margot learned to ski, that Ruby learned to ski along side her sister.
I have been asked a lot about methods and tips for skiing with kids. A few things:
* Our guiding philosophy, always: we are here to have fun. It is such a great mantra on those days when we want our kids do something that they don’t want to do. We figure if they always have fun on skis, they will always want to ski. Some days, that means very little skiing. We always have snacks and take water breaks. Stop mid-run to lay down or throw snow balls.
* Most ski hills offer free or super cheap skiing on the bunny hill. And, young kids ski free all over the mountain. At our hill, kids under 6 ski free and our bunny hill is free to everyone.
* Cheap, used kid gear is easy to come by via craigslist, ebay, your local ski swap or a personal call on facebook.
* Our favorite gear that we buy new:
- Bern helmets. They are so streamlined and comfortable. And, they are multi-sport – the furry insert pops out and voila. Bike/skate/scooter helmet.
- Edgie Wedgie. A must-have for tiny beginner legs.
- Warm, long-lasting outerwear. Living in Montana and playing a lot outside, this is an obvious must. We bought Margot’s one piece suit for a song at the Patagonia outlet in Dillon, Montana. The staff is super helpful and they take phone orders too: (406) 683-2580.