My bucket list includes enjoying quite a few activities with my daughter like: surfing, skiing and sailing...so when she turned three, my wife and I shared the excitement of anticipating Catherine's first gondola ride and first ski lesson.
The first day we enjoyed the amenities of the hotel and "Apres Ski" as opposed to actual skiing.
We wanted to ease Catherine into skiing by first introducing her to the mountain. Catherine took a gondola ride to survey some runs from above and, just as we had hoped, began to sense the fun and excitement everywhere around us. She loved the ride and without her gear felt no pressure to jump right in.
On Day 2, Catherine protested that she did not want to go to Ski School because : "...I already know how to ski!" The idea of leaving her alone with an unfamiliar group of people to learn something completely new was difficult to digest...and knowing that it might afford me some time to enjoy some of the back bowls after a fresh snowfall felt like an abandonment of my daughter for my own selfish desires. After a few folks "talked us down" we agreed that most of the apprehension was on our end as parents and any fear or discomfort our daughter was expressing was likely a result of what she was picking-up from us.....so we signed her up and our palms immediately began to sweat.
She started out bold and confident...almost cocky. She loved her pink goggles, purple ski pants and even the little spider and pastel colored accents on her white ski sweater....but then learning to ski suddenly involved leaving mom and dad behind... and so my performance as a laissez-faire father began. I walked with her to the chalet and after slowly kissing me goodbye she returned my "thumbs-up" but not my forced smile. Her nervousness was palpable as she willingly... and quietly walked away and joined the instructors who welcomed her into the room.
After what seemed like an hour, my wife and I watched as she finally emerged from the classroom and headed to the instruction area with two other children who seemed to move with a comfort that comes from having done this before. We watched her every move....but took evasive maneuvers like... turning, ducking and spinning so that she wouldn't see us there and desperately call for rescue. Throughout our exercise of stealth (which probably more resembled hippos hiding behind palm trees than anything "Cloak & Dagger") several other parents approached and asked: "How old is your little one?". They told us tales of when their children, now in their twenties, first started skiing and how the "instructors here are some of the best in the world". All, I'm sure, to put us more at ease...and they did.
After snapping 79 photos or so, I kissed my wife goodbye and took off for a few runs before Ski School let out. I figured everything was going to be fine as Catherine seemed to be adjusting well and was receiving a lot of one-on-one attention. After ten or fifteen minutes however, mommy texted me: "Call when you can. We're done but have fun and take your time". I soon learned that all was apparently going quite well up until CR broke into tears after peeing in her snow pants... during the last 10 minutes of her class. My heart sank at hearing the news. We both knew that it was because, although she went potty before getting dressed, it was cold and she wasn't comfortable enough to speak up to her new "teachers" whom were probably accustomed to kids saying they "have to go" all the time...but were likely able to "hold it". My wife took Catherine to the room to change and then back to the base for some hot cocoa while waiting for Daddy.
The next day mommy and daddy both took on the role of "instructor" themselves (after having carefully observed the techniques employed by the professionals)....with one small difference in the routine. We strategically situated ourselves beside a mountain-top restaurant (complete with restrooms of course) and limited the duration of our sessions. Catherine made it down 20 or 30 feet without falling about a half a dozen times or so...and never had an accident in her bib. I believe she was equally proud of both.
Overall, Catherine had a lot of fun in a beautiful new setting and left with a newfound appreciation of Apres Ski as a reward that's far more enjoyable after a tough day on the mountain.