“I’d like to come up here sometime on the bus with my friends,” Jack said, giving me a sideways glance, “just, you know, us.”
We were loading up the truck after an afternoon skiing. Everyone was wet and tired and happy, full of burgers and fries from the lodge. My fourteen year-old’s tone told me he was apprehensive about breaking his news.
My first thought was how much it’s taken to get him to this place: able to gather his own gear, and load himself into the truck. Long ago there were struggles to dress both boys, expensive lessons, and bribes of hot chocolate if they would take in at least two or three runs with us on the bunny hill before calling it quits for the day.
Today was the first family ski trip of the season. This activity is gobs easier than it used to be. These days I say: “we’re going skiing this weekend,” and everyone says “hooray.”
But as any parent knows, take an activity you used to happily schedule vacations around, spend absurd amounts of money on, and risk life and limb to do, add really small children, and you get stuff around which future therapy sessions will revolve.
When the boys were younger, I’d spend the afternoon prior to ski day gathering hats, coats, gloves, socks, long-johns, helmets and ski pants from wherever they’d been scattered the last time a big storm dumped enough snow on the driveway for sledding.
I have an embarrassing parental oversight to cop to. We’ve never taken our kids to Yellowstone. All the traveling we’ve done and one of our most cherished national icons has never even been a consideration.
Technically it’s not my fault we’ve never considered this possibility. Although I was born in Boise, we lived in north Idaho for my formative years. Our family trips were mostly by boat, through the locks of the dams on the Lower Snake River to the Columbia, all four of us crammed in a 28 foot Bayliner for hours of quality time.