I remember my dad teaching me how to ski when I was nearly four years old like it was yesterday. Him with his patience sliding slowly backwards down the hill with his bottom up in the air while holding my ski tips together. I was in the bunny slope and soon I was plowing, turning and stopping all on my own. My dad had put in a lot of hard work and we left the bunny slope my fourth day and I hadn't been back since.
Growing up my family always treasured our ski vacations, we went often and we got better and braver trying new things all the time. I had dreamt of the day I could put my own bottom up in air and teach my children how to ski, hoping I would be as patient as my dad was with me.
Well, it finally came true this holiday vacation. It was Christmas day in Park City UT, a perfect blue sky, not too cold. My nearly four year old was geared up in her ski suit, boots and helmet with brand new pink ski goggles. I was teary eyed when I looked at her standing there with her skies snapped on looking so much like me.
Day one was a really big deal to me and I wasn't going to let anything ruin it. Not me, not her sensitivity and nerves, not any obstacle. I wanted her to have fun, to be brave and hopefully remember this experience forever. I was nervous and I was back in the bunny slope. I didn't expect her to be ready to go up the chair lift right away but when she saw other little girls doing it she shuffled towards the line. Up we went and she wasn't the least bit scared. I was thrilled. At the top I did what my dad had done. I placed myself with my back to the base, my bottom up and put her tips together. Ready to slide, she freaked. At first I was disappointed that she didn't trust me or the tiny little hill. It was a harsh reality when I had been visualizing myself in this awkward position for years and it wasn't going to happen. Still I didn't want her to have a bad and scary experience. Luckily there was anther option, the worm. The worm is a rubber band that screws onto the tips to keep them together forcing a plow, I had seen the ski instructors use it on the little ones.
We took a hot chocolate break and located the ski shop in the lodge. Found the wormy thing and bought it. Back on top of the bunny slope we attached the purple wiggly worm. I was surprised she had picked purple over green but she was really excited to try it. Once again I got myself into position but instead of my bottom in the air I held her hands. I started to allow myself and her slide a little. A smile so big grew on her face as she realized she was sliding down with a nice big plow. It was amazing for me to experience this once again but through her eyes. She quickly started to trust me and the hill allowing me to keep a further distance, no hands. We played the freeze game to teach her how to stop and pretended to fly airplanes to teach her how to turn. She didn't want to leave at the end of the day but I could tell she was exhausted.
Day two she got braver yet. The worm was secured on the tips and I kept an even further distance between us. She learned the love for speed mid day and I was no longer able to glide backwards ahead of her, instead I followed. She wasn't all that interested in turning although she thought she was turning it was more like a quick wiggle. Again not ready to leave when it was time to go, she feel asleep in the car.
Day three she was eager to get up the lift, she was annoyed with the morning lines. She never stopped to let me fix or readjust anything at the top, wiggling until she started to glide. I followed proudly after. She lead me trough the Candy Lane obstacle course turning at the poles and ducking under the tunnels, down towards the wavy bumps going up and down, up and down, All I could see was her tiny little body with a big helmet swaying down the hill, but I knew there was a smile on her face and so I had a smile on mine. I don't know how many times we went up the lift that day, too many to count. We had nice conversations on the way up about the glittering snow, the snowmen she had noticed on the edge and the children skiing below. On the way down I had butterflies and happiness fill my body as I got to share this with her. I can easily say that those three days were some of the best days I've ever had and I will treasure them forever. I hope she, like me will be looking forward to teaching her own children how to ski one day. She won't have to worry about her bottom being up in the air, but she'll remember her purple wiggly worm who got her down the bunny slope.
Day four will come soon enough and I think she's ready to leave the bunny slope now.