Vail Novice Mother: Closing day opens new world for toddler
VAIL, Colorado –People have been asking us when we’re going to put The Kid on skis, pretty much since she was in utero. To be honest, we haven’t given it much thought. Aside from the fact that there is neither boot nor plank small enough to fit The Kid’s tiny proportions, it seemed ridiculous to invest in this equipment when she’ll only have outgrown its usefulness in a matter of weeks. Instead, it made sense to encourage her more immediate goals. Walking, for example. Or, more recently, keeping her clothes on in public.
But then, the opportunity presented itself in a pair of hand-me-down K2s.
They were on loan from a friend who in turn acquired them from a neighbor, but beyond that their ancestry is impossible to trace. There was something of the old dog-eared paperback about them: passed from hand to hand over the years, battered by use but still sound enough for another go. A pair of rear-entry boots completed the set, and I thought … why not?
I recruited The Kid’s grandparents since her father was traveling for work. Between the three of us, we managed to tow everything necessary to make this first ski day memorable: two pairs of skis (hers and mine), one pair toddler ski boots, two digital cameras, one tube SPF 70, one pair of heavy mittens in case the glaring sun turned into a squall, one extra layer, one 8-ounce SIGG water bottle featuring special kid-friendly graphics, one set of snacks reserved for nourishment, another set of snacks reserved for bribery, three dry diapers and related accessories, and one 25-pound toddler.
I deposited it all in a heap at the bottom of the magic carpet and pulled out the boots. They were about two sizes too big for The Kid, not to mention the fact that – as far as footwear tends to go – they likely seemed bizarre and rather senseless to her. Still, I exerted far less effort in getting them on than I’d expected, and she proceeded to galumph about to her heart’s content. The Kid has always been, after all, an exultant galumpher.
I expected a little more resistance with the skis. They went on all right, but when I looked up at my daughter to celebrate this small victory I was met with a skeptical frown. What in the name of all things right and rational in the world did I think I was doing?
“Trust me,” I said. “You’re gonna love this.”
I hoped I was right.
We started at the flat base of Golden Peak’s magic carpet, first by shuffling our skis in the snow. I held her hand, and then I didn’t, and she made slow progress into my waiting arms. I pulled her – and then I gently pushed her – on the flats so that she could get an idea of the slippery sensation created by her skis. Then we took the carpet to the top of the hill.
She wasn’t strong enough to stand up against the forces of speed produced by the bunny hill’s tiny incline. There was no way she could understand how to adjust her stance or distribute her weight in order to accommodate gravity’s tug on her little body. But as I positioned her between my legs and grasped her under the arms, and then as I plowed a slow straight run to the base of the carpet and her waving grandparents, I heard a lone squeal. Was it a good cry, or one of abject terror? Had I already damaged her opinion of the sport by exposing her too early? After we stopped, I took a peek at the footage from Grandpa’s digital camera and saw a fixed and decisive expression on The Kid’s face.
She was beaming.
And when we reached the bottom? She said the one thing that we’d all been secretly hoping she would say: Again.
Genevieve Coffey is The Wife.