On Saturdays, I take With-a-Why and some kids from his class to the ski center. And today, the third snowboarding class for them, we finally had some good conditions. Warm air and lots of soft snow. It was a gorgeous sunny day, and the view from the top was spectacular. I could look across a valley of cornfields to a mountain covered with bare trees, branches silhouetted against brilliant blue, an old farmhouse tucked into a curve halfway up.
The great conditions gave the kids confidence, and after the lesson, they took run after run, With-a-Why even hitting some of the jumps. I followed them on skis, and they kept yelling things like, "Look! I'm getting this!"
Through the deal the school made with the ski center, parents are allowed to ski for free as a chaperones. That's right, ski for free. The surprising thing is that so far I am the only parent to take advantage of this deal. All the other parents spend the whole day sitting in the lodge. I’ve spent three Saturdays in a row trying to make sense of this. Today, the conditions were so perfect that I thought I could convince some of the parents to give skiing a try. They said things like: "I'm too old." Since these parents are in their thirties – I am definitely the oldest one in the group – ridiculous statements like that cause me to roll my eyes.
Last week the ski center sponsored an exhibition, expert boarders and skiers who traveled here from all over the northeast, and for that show the center lifted their restriction on inverted aerials. Even from inside the lodge, we could see skiers and boarders flying off a huge pile of snow, high into the air, flipping upside down, and more often than not, wiping out dramatically. I loved watching the show and so did the kids, but I could see that it made some of the parents nervous.
I think that is the main problem. I know that some of these parents are afraid. They are afraid of getting hurt. They are afraid that their kids will get hurt. They don’t understand the appeal of the ski slope. And yet despite their fears, they listened when their kids begged for snowboard lessons and scraped together the hundred bucks for the six-week program. They drive their kids out to the ski center, they keep their fears hidden, and they give up their Saturday to spend it sitting in a crowded room filled with hard picnic tables, gangs of teenagers, and wet ski clothes.
These are parents are doing their best to give their kids something they never had. I have to say that I admire that.