January 09, 2006

Bonding through Boarding

"I think every part of my body hurts," I said to my daughter.

"Me, too," she said. We sat quietly for a moment. "Maybe not my stomach," she said. "Or my breasts. But everything else."

I had intended to ski yesterday. I've been downhill skiing for three years now and I am comfortable on skis. I had planned to go to the slopes and ski down gracefully, admiring the view, enjoying the gorgeous winter weather. I was going to take the digital camera to the terrain park to take shots of Boy in Black and Shaggy Hair Boy hitting some of the jumps. Instead I spent a large part of the day facedown in the snow – or lying on my back in the snow complaining how much my butt hurt.

It’s all my daughter's fault. She had the brilliant idea that I should try snowboarding. You are probably thinking, how sweet, her daughter must be a snowboarding enthusiast and she wanted to introduce her mother to a sport she loves.

But real story is that my Smart Wonderful Beautiful Daughter has never skied or snowboarded before. And this year, she promised her brothers she would come home from college six Sundays in a row during the season and learn to snowboard with them. It's really her last chance for this kind of family bonding, because next year at this time she will be spending a semester in Famous European City Where They Make a Big Deal Out of the Royal Family. And by next year, Boy in Black will be in college.

Somehow, Daughter convinced me that taking snowboard lessons together would be a wonderful mother/daughter bonding experience. She wasn't at all sure about her ability to snowboard and I guess she figured that if she was going to hurt herself on the slopes, she would take me down with her. Or perhaps she wanted someone in the class to look more foolish than she. A good strategy, it turns out.

I admit that it was really fun. Snowboarding is a different motion than skiing, more like surfing or skateboarding, a game of balance really. A new challenge for me, since I don’t skateboard or surf. But I'd been warned by everyone that that the very first day of snowboarding can be brutal, and they were right. The falls I took when I first learned to ski seem gentle now compared to the spectacular falls I yesterday. With both feet strapped to a board, the only way down is to slam your upper body against the icy slope.

The instructor warned me not to put out my arms to break my fall – a broken wrist is the most common snowboarding injury – and I managed not to do that. But every other body part was slammed against the ice repeatedly, including a dramatic face plant that today is making the entire inside of my head hurt. I would photoblog all the big bruises on my body except that I think it would make my blog look like a porn site.

And despite the pain, I did have a great day. Daughter and I both kept laughing as we fell awkwardly into the snow again and again. We managed to get the one snowboard instructor who is closer to my age than my Daughter's, and he was awfully good-natured, even though I knocked him over six or seven times, including a fairly dramatic fall that seemed to fluster him. He even met us after lunch to give us a second lesson, devoting his whole day pretty much to yanking me out of the woods every time I went off the groomed part of the trail, and patiently teaching me the turns over and over. And I got all kinds of encouragement from my sons, my niece, and my extras. Always there were teenagers yelling things at me as they raced by on snowboards or went by overhead on the chairlift. (Blue-eyed Instructor said to me, curiously, "Just how many kids do you have here? Seems like every teenager here knows you.")

Today I am moving slowly, my body stiff, my muscles sore, still discovering new bruises in places I never thought possible. But I remember those moments when I got the snowboard moving the way I wanted it to – how good that felt – and I am already looking forward to next weekend when I can get out onto the slopes again.


Girl said...

Hmmm...I am a skiier...not a snowboarder...but I have heard that one of the biggest differences in learning either sport is that a beginner can get up on skiis the first day, and can then learn the basics very quickly; but it takes a lot of time to get to advanced level. Whereas, snowboarding is a bitch to learn and is not very beginner friendly, but once you get it, you're good to go.

Keep up the good work! I am super impressed.


academic coach said...

You are my american idol. (I've never seen the show but I hope this comes off like the compliment I intend.)

I want your chutzpah, your figure (ah that belly dancing photo and your summer trip waterfall photos allow me to imagine you on a snowboard) and most of all, your relationship with your daughter, sons, neices and all their friends.

role models are good for new year's resolutions :)

Anonymous said...

like academic coach said... I too have a girl crush.

but as much as I'd like to ask my 3 younger snowboarding brothers to teach me to snowboard, I think I'm intimidated by the bruises and bonebreaking possibilities since I'm your elder by a few years.

mc said...

i'm about 10 years younger, and i'm still too worried about the speed, the falling, the possibilities for humiliation -- impressive, jo(e), that you got past all that!

Coffee-Drinking Woman said...

I've had learning to downhill ski on my to-do list for years (I've done Nordic skiing since I was seven, although I haven't done as much of it as I'd like of late). This is the first winter in about 8 years that I've had both the time and haven't been pregnant - and what happens? It WARMS UP and there's no snow.
and what the others said about you being a good role model.

Anonymous said...

I'll file this away under things to read before you consider snowboarding. ouch. I hope ou feel better.

Scrivener said...

PPB: I hope you mean that on the top of that file it would say, "Read it and then sign up for the lessons." I am so jealous that you've got ski slopes nearby. I've never tried snowboarding--maybe next year?

Phantom Scribbler said...

I once let my sister drag me snowboarding. I fell a zillion times (though it was nice, soft Sierras snow, not East Coast ice, so the visible bruising was minimal), but what really hurt were my hips. The snowboarding stance was really uncomfortable for me.

Still wish I could do it, though. Nothing looks cooler.

Pink Cupcake said...

Wow! Sounds amazing. Yay for you for becoming a snowboarder...Hope the bruises get better before next week's lesson. :)

parodie said...

The warning about your wrists is very apt - my very first snowboarding lesson, I sprained my wrist. :-( It was a painful few weeks until I could use it properly, and I still wear wristguards now when I board. But I love it - there's an exhiliration and freedom that I find is different than on skis.
Congrats on learning a new skill!

The Bailiff said...

The learning curve is steep but short for snowboarding.

I started skiing when I was 4 and took up snowboarding at 18, after I stopped ski racing competitively. I remember thinking that, despite my years of intense training for ski racing, I had never hurt so bad as that first day of snowboarding.

Of course, my dad learned before I did and gave me the sage advice to stick a small pillow into the ass of my pants and wear kneepads and wrist guards. Bless that man.

Keep it up! You'll have the hang of it soon enough, and the feeling of scooting downhill on a board is other-worldly, IMHO.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

You're so brave and your stories are so good. Whatever you do always sounds like so much fun that I wish I was there with you.

We should go skiing together sometime.


Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

My brother-in-law, who is the same age as you, has been skiing since he was a baby. He and my husband both helped me learn to snowboard. BIL in actual fact was NOT that much help, because he kept taking me off the groomed runs, thinking I'd have so much more fun. Right.

Two years after he "helped" me learn to snowboard, he learned himself. And he was great at it instantly. (He also surfs.) I was so incredibly pissed off... How unfair! I had been looking forward to all his falls as a kind of retaliation for what he put me through : )

Then he got cocky. Although it was just his first day, he started flying down an intermediate-level slope. And he caught an edge -- spank! -- slammed into the snow so hard he passed out for a second. Limped back to lift line, dazed. And a little girl followed him, deft on her board, saying, "Mister! You dropped your googles!"

So, so funny to see this tiny little thing chasing after my 200-lb super-skier brother-in-law.

Moral: never never be overconfident! It's too painful!

Liz Miller said...

You are the coolest person ever.

Anonymous said...

I was so happy with myself when my son taught me (when he was ten or twelve) how to throw a football so that it flew more like a missile than a duck dying in midair and even how to run plays to help him practice. (I looked really silly.)

But you win the great mom prize, you really do :->.

Mon said...

Ouch! But good for you--glad you had a great time. Reading your story I realized I have never even seen a ski slope, I'll have to add that to my list of places to go.

Autumn said...

Glad you enjoyed yourself, even if your sore today. Sounds like you had a blast.

Next weekend will be easier, right?

CarpeDM said...

Delurking to say ouch. And you are much braver than I am. Growing up in Minnesota, you would think that I would ski, snowboard, snowshoe or something snow related in the winter. But I am a great big coward. We were forced to do downhill skiing in 4th grade and it terrified me.

Anyway, I really enjoy reading your blog.

halloweenlover said...

Jo(e), you may be the coolest. mom. ever. I am amazed that you tried snowboarding. I tried it once and swore never again, I was in so much pain the next day. Those are sweet memories, though. I'm sure your daughter was grateful.

BotanicalGirl said...

Despite growing up on the east coast, my first experience with skiing or snowboarding was out here in the Sierras.

My boyfriend snowboards, so I figured I'd try that. My instructor was this tiny blonde Norwegian girl half my size. She was trying to teach me how to stop by pulling me down the training hill. I thought I was going to squash her.

They also configured our boards wrong until boyfriend noticed. (Standard instead of goofy).

By the end of the day I could carve to the right (back facing downhill), but not the left. I can't get that turn figured out!

Thank god for borrowing wristguards.

My last fall of the day I slammed my head back and I was done. Other than that I wasn't too sore the next day. Lucky I guess.