For those of you who haven’t had a chance to get the book, here’s an excerpt from my chapter called,”You Call This a Vacation???” It takes place in 2013 at Loon Mountain in NH. Foolishly, we had decided to take the kids skiing. Here’s what ensued when we signed them up for lessons. Hope you enjoy!
We got to the mountain and made our way over to the ski school corral. I put the girls in level two classes and my son in level three with his buddies. My friends and I kissed our kids goodbye and skied away. I felt the familiar sensation of exhilaration I always felt when I finally get some time to myself – one you can only feel when you’ve also experienced deprivation. As a working mom, my time away from my kids is mostly when I’m at work, so when I get some actual time to myself, it’s positively delicious – like the first glass of wine after nine long months of pregnancy, an unexpected warm day in the middle of winter or eating that chocolate Easter bunny after giving up candy for Lent. Yeah, it’s that good.
I hit the mountain and slowly re-acclimated to the swaying and balancing that comes with skiing while the sun shone on my face. I was so happy I didn’t care that my rosacea would become inflamed. A couple of hours into my skiing, a familiar sound came from my jacket pocket. Was that my cell phone? Who would bother me on my day off? I pulled out the phone and saw an unfamiliar area code.
I answered it, foolishly, to be met with the devastating news that my middle child wanted to quit her ski lesson. Her instructor informed me that she hated skiing and was ready to quit. Panic and frustration set in as I saw my future unfolding before me … a day in the lodge with my ten-year-old complaining about her boredom. I pleaded with the instructor to force her to ski. She promised to keep trying for at least another half hour, but in the meantime, we agreed to meet at the corral.
While I made my way, enthusiasm deflating, I mulled over the true impact of retrieving my daughter from ski school early. If she quit, that would probably mean the other two wouldn’t want to ski either. What would we do all afternoon? What about later in the week? My mind started racing. This was my vacation too, wasn’t it? Don’t they deal with other kids who don’t love skiing at first? But I couldn’t stop running the instructor’s words through my head: “She hates it.” I know how she gets when she’s made up her mind.
Once I made it back to the corral, I anxiously scoped the field and didn’t see my daughter, so I checked in and was told that she turned a corner and all was well. I exhaled, knowing the day was mine again. As I skied toward the gondola a mere two minutes later, the familiar sound emanated from my pocket yet again – the dreaded cell phone.
This time it was my son’s instructor. He informed me that my previously healthy son now had a stomachache and wanted to go inside and rest.
Really, now. My son never gets stomachaches. I can smell a faker from miles away, but how do I explain this to the instructor? Had I truly believed he was sick, I would have been much more sympathetic. Ditto if I truly believed that my daughter was miserable. But I know my kids and I wasn’t fully convinced one child was experiencing flu-like symptoms, nor that the other hated skiing. What I am convinced of is that they are classic manipulators, willing to use any weapon in their arsenal to get their way. Their tricks don’t work on me, but these ski instructors were fresh meat. How could I make them see that my kids’ complaining was all a ruse to get out of the cold and into the lodge? Suck it up and make them ski!
I conveyed this to the instructor as best I could without sounding like a cold-hearted bitch. To my relief, I learned my son was willing to overlook his stomach bug and ski again. The day finished uneventfully and the kids told me they enjoyed the skiing. What they didn’t enjoy, however, was seeing their friends ski off without them. After their skills were assessed, my son was demoted to level two with his sisters, making all three of them miserable. I knew it! There was no stomach bug. There was no hatred of the sport. It was my kids reacting when they didn’t get their way. I was relieved to know that my kids would ski again, though they all begged for a private lesson. My husband and I could have flown to Colorado for the weekend for the cost of that private lesson, but I was willing to do anything to get them away from me.
On the morning of their lesson we met their instructor, Skip. I warned him that he’d have to be tough with them. My children responded to structure and if they’re pampered, they claim the upper hand. He nodded, acting like he understood exactly what I was saying, and off they went. He looked weak. I smelled disaster.
Being an optimist, I booked a ski lesson for myself along with my ski-house friends. An hour into my lesson and there was that freaking cell phone with the unfamiliar area code. It was Skip. My youngest refused to go on the chair lift and he wanted me to meet them at the base of the kiddie slope.
What about my ski lesson? I had just begun to master leaning forward with the imaginary grape on the back of my leg. The next hour would be about planting a pole in the imaginary box that encircled me. These were skills that were essential to the mastering of the blue trails. I wanted to ski a blue trail! My fellow skiers, after witnessing the barrage of never-ending phone calls and complaining from my pain-in-the-ass kids, smiled at me and turned toward the gondola, their cell phones silent and their children entertained. They must have been getting tired of all the drama.
I tried to act mature, but truthfully I felt cheated. I went with my daughter on the chair lift and found she only needed me to join her one time to build her confidence on the lift. At the bottom of the mountain she said, “I’m OK, Mom. You can go back to your lesson.” Thanks kid, but my lesson is on the other side of the world, and over.
After a harried lunch, clomping around in ski boots and trying to carry two trays of over-priced grilled cheese and fries, I dumped the kids with Skip to finish their lesson and rejoined my friends to attempt a final shot at skiing with the adults. Just as we hit the gondola line, I kid you not, my friends, that motherfucking phone started to ring. This time, my middle child had a meltdown and sat on the mountain refusing to ski. “Leave her!” I ranted. “She just wants attention.” Skip refused, clearly having fallen victim to my daughter’s spell. Fortunately another instructor took pity on the situation and dragged her skiing. No balls on that Skip, just like I suspected.
To see how the story ends, order your copy of the book on Amazon. It’s available in Kindle or print format. Thanks for reading.