Tuesday, December 12, 2017


I have never successfully gotten my whole family on skis. Like never having organized a family bike trip, I've been too daunted by the expense and the coordination required to have five pairs of functioning skis on five sets of feet (I'm talking cross-country skiing here—downhill would be in a whole other realm of expense and getting up really early to drive really far away).

I did try once, rounding up enough second-hand and hand-me-down skis and boots to outfit all three kids, ages 7, 3, and 3 at the time. I wrote about the disastrous event in my zine in an essay called "Easily Discouraged":
After breakfast Saturday morning, I get everyone dressed and ready to go out skiing. This process takes nearly two hours, most of which I spend convincing them they want to go outside and looking for the size 9 boots, which M suddenly “finds” behind the curtain in his bedroom just as I give up and start to walk out the door. I stuff my pockets with cookies to fend off any low blood sugar-related meltdowns, pile skis and boots and poles into the sled and we trek up our driveway to the neighbor’s field, a large expanse of gently- sloping white.  
I help Mi fit his boots into his ski bindings, strap his poles over his gloves and walk him a few steps into the field. I go back to the sled and start buckling a pair of skis over Z’s snow boots when one of M’s skis detaches. I finish Z, lead him to the snow and re-attach M’s ski. I return to the sled and start to put the size 9 ski boots on E when Z falls down and M’s ski falls off again. I get E into his boots and skis, help him to the snow, right Z and attach M’s ski again. I try to help E and Z move across the crusty snow and M makes his way toward a small hill he wants ski down. None of them is heavy enough to break through the crust on the snow. M reaches the hill and I try to describe herring-boning from 30 feet away where I’m trying to keep E and Z vertical. The snow is too slippery and M keeps sliding backward. I make my way over to him and show him how to side-step up. He makes it to the top of the hill and starts down, in a fast, beautiful run, until he leans backward slightly, starts to lose his balance, overcompensates and falls flat on his face. 
By now everyone is crying, except me (although I’d like to). I try cheering M up, telling him what a great run it was, but he is unconvinced. We take off skis, load them in the sled and head for home. I prop six little skis and six little poles next to the front door where they will sit, unused, until late April when I finally put them away in the basement. 
And I never, ever tried to get my kids on skis again. I go cross-country skiing with friends maybe once or twice a year. M has since taken up snowboarding—tagging along with friends whose mothers are less easily discouraged (and more enthusiastic about getting up really early to drive really far away) but when I've (half-heartedly) suggested ski or snowboard lessons to E and Z, they both have shown a decided lack of interest which I've felt a lack of interest in trying to surmount. For the interim, we've stuck to snow shoes.

But this year I decided to overcome the enthusiasm gap and get the twins outfitted for cross-country skiing. We picked up skis last weekend through an organization in our area offers season-long cross-country ski/boot/pole leasing for a reasonable price and I'll be signing them up for a four-day ski clinic at a local nature center in January.

In the meantime, after our first measurable snowfall Saturday, we all strapped on our skis and hit the slopes, er, driveway, and that same neighbor's field.

We had a few setbacks, a few falls, a few pairs of tangled skis and legs, but both boys got the hang of it pretty quick and—shh don't tell them I said this—I think they even had fun!

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