Glop and I have not done any alpine skiing in 10 years. I have not skied more than three times in my entire life. So why is our family of five, toddler included, suddenly embracing this terribly expensive, environmentally unfriendly, dangerous, not to mention cold, winter sport?
Well, we live in New Hampshire, for one thing. Every dismal, gloomy winter we battle seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Even the girls’ spirits seem to sag. Glop proclaimed that this year we must get outside, and we must do it as a family. Sure, we could just spend 20 minutes outside at noon every day, as many studies suggest. But that would be too easy, and we do everything the hard way here.
I thought snowshoeing might be a manageable for all of us, but I was instantly shot down. Too hard for the kids, said Glop. Ice skating? Going round and round in circles is boring, Mommy, said my eight-year-old. Sledding? Good old-fashioned snowman-making? Who does that anymore?
So we (well, ultimately Glop) decided on downhill skiing, which has been a bit of an uphill battle. But, I should be grateful we are not climbing glaciers.
Am I totally disappointed in our pursuit of this heinously costly hobby? No. It’s actually been pretty hilarious and, occasionally, gratifying. Here are a few of the pros and cons.
The Cons (bear with me, the list is long):
- It. Is. Cold. Last weekend we went skiing and it was 15 degrees. BEFORE the wind chill. But do they cancel lessons or close the mountain? No way. So you suck it up and go skiing because you feel the need to maximize all the money you spent on your season pass.
- It is dangerous. Even when you know what you are doing. I am comfortable right now because all the girls are taking lessons, surrounded by instructors on the bunny hill. But my anxiety is growing as they get closer and closer to taking the chairlift.
- “Skiing” and “on a shoestring” just don’t go together. Even when you buy the cheapest, crappiest ski swap equipment you can find, and rent “gently used” skis and boots for the kids, it adds up quickly to much more than a mortgage payment. And then you need lift tickets or a season pass, lessons, more specialized winter gear, and so on.
- We know nothing about skiing and are completely ignorant when it comes to what one should do/wear/say when skiing, talking about skiing, or buying skis. Case in point: I found awesome-looking skis at a ski swap for a great price. I later learned that they were super cheap because the bindings are completely outdated and it is illegal for any ski shops to adjust my bindings. Luckily, a ski shop employee took pity on Glop and showed him how to do it himself. So now I feel super safe as I ride down the bunny hill.
- It’s the terrible twos. On skis. Sure, toddler’s adorable in her helmet and little pink Alpinas. But it wears off quickly after manhandling her up the slope three or four times. Not even the promise of hot chocolate will get her through her 60 minute weekly lesson. I’m not sure a pony would either. Renting one would surely cost as much as her ski class.
- There’s no snow. Really? We took up skiing the one winter it has not snowed more than a few inches of snow in one 24-hour period. In New Hampshire. Come on, mother nature. I’m paying premium here, so show me the snow!
- Try lugging skis, ski boots, snow pants, hats, scarves, and mittens for five from your minivan to the slope. Ab can barely manage to carry one boot and toddler is useless. I need a forklift.
- Who’s doing all the cooking/cleaning/laundry while we’re out skiing? Certainly not any hired help. It’s all there waiting for me when we get back, plus a bonus load of thermal underwear and socks. Yay.
- Will I ever get off the bunny hill? No, I will probably have to part with more money to make that happen.
- We get outside. For thousands of dollars, we are getting a nice healthy dose of Vitamin D. It’s probably going too far to say all this will help us avoid the stomach flu this year, but one can hope.
- We get exercise. Always a plus. But we do spend a lot of time on the automated wonder carpet. Not a cardio workout at this point.
- Said “exercise” gives us an excuse to eat more chocolate. Also a plus.
- Confidence. I mean this seriously. The big girls are all over this ski thing and as they gain more skills they are also gaining more confidence. They are not scared out there, like I am. I’m very proud of them.
The number one reason I might consider doing this all again next year:
Skiing is bringing us closer together as a family. We’re having a shared experience, and that, to me, trumps all. From the toddler to the breadwinner, we have something in common. There have been so many times over the last two years (since we had number three) when we have had to split up, with one parent going off in one direction with the two big girls, and the other staying home with the caboose. Sure, getting everyone out the door for skiing is a really big pain in the ass, but the payoff is proving to be great. From getting our pictures for our season passes together (high point, before we knew what we were getting into) to whining about the cold and our ghetto gear, we’re all in this adventure together. I actually feel way better this winter than I did last, but I’m not sure how much it has to do with the extra sunlight. Though it pains me to write it: Glop’s quest to fight SAD on skis is actually working, in a way he probably never imagined.