My son is just a baby, but already, when I look into his eyes, I want him to be different from me in so many ways. I want him to embrace the world, embrace his fears in ways that I couldn’t bring myself to until I was deep into adulthood and had finally grasped a basic level of self-sufficiency.
When I was in junior high—seventh grade, to be exact—I donned skis for the first time. I was tall and gangly and the boots pitted me at an even more awkward angle. I stepped to the base of the mountain—a big hill, really—and thought there is no way this is happening. I couldn’t even walk without tripping over my feet. But an hour later, I’d learned how to point them in a triangle and kind of control my speed, or, at least, brace myself to fall. And a couple hours after that, that’s exactly what I was doing, falling my way down the shortest trail. But it was on my terms, so it was starting to grow on me.
The next winter, I returned to the same mountain (hill), this time filled with a little more confidence, even though I was a little taller and a bit more awkward. I climbed aboard the lift and turned right instead of left. The trail was a little more challenging, but still only halfway up the mountain. I cut that first bend way too close, though, and then over-corrected and crashed hard. Like, walking down the rest of the trail with one ski, the other one resting in the tree line near the bottom. That was pretty much it for me, that night and a long time after.
It’s not fair to project my regrets and insecurities on him, I know, but I’m still determined to sign him up for a ski lesson—or snowboarding, if he prefers—as soon as he’s ready. In the meantime, I’ve been reading up on the First Timer’s Guide, which covers everything from the ski rental and advice on properly gearing up to the methodology taught in the lessons. He’ll know he’s going to crash at some point. Unlike me, however, he’ll know how to pick himself up and head back to the lift.