One of my happiest places is on the ski slopes. I like the cold fresh air tickling my nose. My heart bursts with happiness when I see blue skies hugging mountainous backdrops, speckles of evergreen trees, and sparkling snow.
Gliding on the snow, bouncing gently through bumps, and whizzing by trees is some of the funnest fun I ever have.
So it is important to me that my children have the chance to enjoy my happy place. If they enjoy skiing then it will happen more often...which would serve us all.
A Child's Happy Place
My kids' happy places? Well I think they prefer to be wherever I am. If I am happy then wherever I am is their happiest place, too, which totally makes sense to me.
It will become OUR happy place.
All Good All the Time
It probably goes without saying that I could not expet my toddler to join me on the expert runs. SO before my husband (who is also an avid skier) and I hauled a preschooler to the slopes, we made a commitment to make it all good all the time.
We mustered EVERY OUNCE of patience we had and then...
...in the car we happily sang along to their favorite songs.
...we carried ALL the gear.
...we smiled while we helped them get all their cold-weather clothes and toe-squeezing ski gear on.
...we giggled with them gliding down the bunny slope, cradling them between our knees.
...and when they said, "I'm ready for hot cocoa," after one run we responded cheerfully, "OK!" and schlepped everything to the lodge.
I remember sitting on the sun-drenched deck, sipping hot cocoa and gazing longingly at the wide expanse of mountain that towered over the bunny slope. I thought, "If I play my cards right then this will grow with our family."
They'll Beg for More
Every single trip to ski got a little easier and a little longer. Instead of carrying all their gear for them, the children began helping. Instead of doing one run and leaving we began doing two and three and more. Instead of relegating myself and my husband to sit and sip with our kids, one of us does some laps on the big runs while one stays with the kids.
Now when we see snowy peaks from our front range home, the kids (now seven and five years old) say, "I can't wait to go skiing!"
Play the Long Game
So, how do you teach your child to love skiing? (Or whatever you want, really.)
You play the long game.
You smile and laugh and leave the critical parent hat at home.
You help them when they need help. (Don't bother teaching independence.)
You bear in mind that the ONLY goal is for your child to enjoy himself or herself.
You honor their needs, their limits, and what interests them in your happy place. [When my son was very small he just wanted to stare at the giant machine operating the chair lifts.]
In doing so, you will succeed in the long run, and surprise!, you'll succeed in the short term, too.
Because when I treated skiing this way, I began to fall in love with the little parts of the day as much as the big parts. Clomping around in big heavy boots is goofy the same way bouncing down the bumps is thrilling. Stripping off helmets, mittens, neck warmers, and coats is as much a relief as sipping an apres ski beverage (even if it is hot cocoa at 10AM). And enjoying the sights and sounds and smells of mountain life are just as good under the shelter of evergreen trees that surround the bunny hill as they are at the exposed peak...maybe even better.