Ski family constants

Tantrum on the mountain.
Tantrum on the mountain.

I’m a summer person. I love sundresses, dinners on a patio, pedicures, and outdoor concerts. Once I got over the fact that I sweat profusely, summer and I realized we had kind of a thing going on. The season’s passing always makes me feel a little morose.

Ski season is only thing that makes it okay that it’s no longer summer.

When we were first married, Mike and I had about enough scratch to make renting a video a special occasion. I’d never been on downhill skis. Mike had grown up on the sport. We somehow found an inexpensive pair of skis, boots and poles at a garage sale for me, and Mike set out to teach me how to ski….

….which pretty much means he led me to the most harrowing run on the mountain and pointed downhill, then bit his tongue while I yelled at him, then cried, then took my skis off and walked to the lodge.

We kept doing that, and things improved. Somewhat. Twenty-some years later, I still ski like a person who is deathly afraid of heights and speed, but I don’t usually resort to walking down the hill and I almost never cry.

Then kids came along, and we got them each up on skis just after they were out of diapers with thoughts of grand family times spent on the mountain….

…. Which means there was more crying and yelling, and people taking their skis off and walking back to the lodge.

Those first years were rough; all the worst parts of parenting rolled into one afternoon. Take a four year-old who won’t wear a coat on the coldest of days and try to wrestle him into a pair of snow pants and ski boots. You might as well be trying to dress a damn cat in a wet sweater.

This after a half day of gathering helmets and goggles, gloves and gaiters, scarves and hats, under-layers, outer-layers, hand-warmers, hats, coats, skis, boots, and poles. Then there’s giving the kids their anti-nausea pills, which involves bribing, cajoling, threatening, and finally yelling until everyone is crying and still won’t take the teeniest little pill, the taste of which someone once likened to raspberry vomit.

This is followed by a trip up the hill risking life and limb among all the speed racers trying to pass on blind curves. The kid who took his pill will sleep it off, the one who refused will try (unsuccessfully) not to barf.

Cap all of this nonsense off with a twenty minute wait in the lift line while we break a sweat trying to keep people from falling down and convincing them that no, nobody has to go to the bathroom again, not right this second, and then lying and saying that hot chocolate is available in the lodge only to people who have made at least three runs before going in.

We ultimately won’t make three runs. We’ll make one run down the bunny hill before someone announces they absolutely will not continue without hot chocolate and somebody else announces he just peed his pants.

Things have gotten considerably better since those days, and by better I mean I’m now back to being the lonely skier at the precipice of that scary-as-hell run, trying not to hyperventilate while everyone else gleefully swooshes down the hill looking like they’re in a Warren Miller movie.

“Don’t wait for me, I’ll meet you at the lift,” I yell as I take my slow, wide turns, wondering what it’s going to be like to slide all the way down the hill on my back. When I fall, can I make it into one of those clips like we used to watch on the Wide World of Sports on Sunday nights?

The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat …

No matter what has changed, some other things also remain the same for us now as they were when we started the boys on skis:

  1. There will be barf. Really, people with the kind of motion sickness we have, have no business on the mountain. Not only are our kids prone to urpiness on the curvy trip, but Mike is likely to get woozy on the lift itself, and on some runs.

We cope with a car barf kit – a few plastic shopping bags (pre-screened for holes), a roll of paper towels and some gum. Back in the day the kit used to include a packet of wet wipes, a couple of towels to sit on after the upholstery was soiled, and a change of clothing for pretty much everyone in the car. If I could have gotten my hands on a couple haz-mat suits, and lined the interior of the car in plastic sheeting without too much trouble, I would have.

These days, we’re seasoned. We know what meds will work without putting kids to sleep. We know where all the pull-outs are on the narrow road. We know how long it takes to get over being woozy once we park. And Mike knows to bring reading material for when he must retire to the lodge for a spell if the swaying of the lift makes his tummy lurch.

  1. There will be a-holes. They’re on the hill, in the lodge, in the parking lot, on the drive up. Jerks come in all shapes and sizes, from the little kid who cuts me off and yells “watch it;” to the mom who spreads the contents of her cooler over half the abysmally crowded dining area and reserves it, all day, for the fifteen minutes her kids will come waltzing in for an order of fries; to the douchebag in the huge SUV who’s incensed we’re traveling the curvy road at a speed that won’t lift the truck onto two wheels around every corner.
  1. There will be whining. This used to be kids whining about the cold, and parents whining about breaking a sweat while pushing squirmy people into snow pants. Now there’s whining if mom wants to go in for a few moments to see if she can regain the feeling in her toes, or demurs from taking any run with names like Widow Maker or Death Trap.
  1. We will do this anyway. Just as soon as this weird weather cools off and dumps some snow on the dang mountain, and we re-outfit the kids in snow gear and skis that fit after their latest growth spurts, bribe them into taking their barf pills and pile back in the truck for another ski-day.

Because, even though I may spend a good five minutes breathing into a brown paper bag at the top of the hill, once I get going, I imagine I look a whole lot like this:


Dude. Seriously. A vote for my blog is a vote for moms everywhere who manage to not fall down on the ski hill and embarrass their families.


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  1. Love it! I\’m stuck on the part about lining the whole interior of the car with plastic sheeting. I\’ve got Dexter stuck in my head now. Not that you\’d use it for a\”kill\” car mind you, but that could be a funny Dexter spoof maybe? 🙂

  2. Hmmm… Can\’t say it sounds like fun. My kids love it though. They go with their dad (who grew up in Vermont, so has been skiing since he was 3) and fly down the hill. I think I\’ll stay here by the fire.

  3. Holy crap, this all sounds so terrifying to a Florida girl. And COLD! You are like a superhero, swooshing down steep mountains at high speeds, yet maneuvering through narrow trails without falling or breaking anything.
    I\’m so impressed!

    1. It IS terrifying. I don\’t know why I do it, although I do feel much like I imagine a superhero would feel, I know I look pretty much like someone who should never have been put on skis.

  4. The beauty of growing up in Southern California was surfing in the morning, and skiing in the afternoon. Neither of which I ever did. I tried surfing, but I was terrible at it.

    In my opinion, Winter is the thing we have to get through to get back to Summer.

    I\’m glad you\’re having a good time with it though!

    1. Most of the time, I\’m with you, Anne. I do love summer. And now you\’re in a part of the country where you probably get a bellyful of winter every year. Bleah.

  5. LOL! I love this post! Every single winter I intend to take the kids skiing, but we never do! I just told my husband that this is the year! I definitely want my kids to grow up skiing! I loved reading about all of your stories. Too funny! I never thought about motion sickness with skiing before!

    1. Thank you, Melanie! Just remember it\’s far from smooth sailing at first. If you haven\’t noticed your kids having motion sickness to date, maybe this won\’t be a problem for you. Ours have struggled with it since they were really little. Sometimes even just going to the grocery store.