Teaching Kids and Toddlers to Ski

Trenton and I love skiing. The winter before I got pregnant with Owen, we went skiing every second weekend, both on day trips and ski trips with friends. So it was quite a change after baby when we could no longer go! We’ve been super excited about the idea of introducing the kids to something we love, and in the last month it finally happened!

It’s been a pretty cold winter, but a week after Owen’s fourth birthday, it was finally warm enough to take him out. The wait was worth it–we went on a beautiful bluebird day, warm enough to do a few runs on the bunny hill and then have lunch together on the patio, and Owen loved it! Friends have told us it’s worth waiting until kids are at least four years old to teach them, and I can see why. Owen was already coordinated enough to get on and off the magic carpet by himself, and because skis are longer and more stable than skates, he thought it was way more fun than his skating lessons.

His little bro, however, will not be able to wait! Max wanted to try so badly, he was climbing onto Owen’s skis! So we went back to Sport Chek and bought a second pair of used skis in the smallest size we could find, and the smallest boots they make. Of course he’s not really skiing at this point, just being held between Mom or Dad’s legs as we sloooowly make our  way down the hill, but it’s still good for him to get used to the feeling. Most importantly, he was stoked to be part of the action!

We’ve only gone twice so I’m in no way an expert, but here are some tips for teaching kids to ski, some of which have been passed on to me by other parents:

1. Take breaks BEFORE the kids get tired so that the experience stays positive. Do a few runs and then have a snack. Then if the kids are up for it, try a few more runs afterward. Introduce skiing slowly and keep it fun!

2. Some ski hills have free bunny hills, which takes the pressure off. If you feel like you’re skiing for “free” (minus all the gear!), you won’t be tempted to keep trying even when kids are tired. And they’ll feel more comfortable learning at their own pace. We love being in the mountains, so even if we only do a few runs, it’s worth the drive just to be out in the fresh mountain air with the kiddos.

3. Find the smallest pair of secondhand skis possible. We didn’t do this with Owen, and he’s learning on 100cm skis. I’ve definitely noticed this makes it tougher for him to learn how to pie! However, they will last longer, so maybe it’s a tradeoff.

4. Use a “wedgie” to keep ski tips together. This will help your child get a feel for making a pie. At first Owen went straight down the hill, but now he’s learned he needs to do a pie to slow himself down, and the wedgie is a huge help.

5. To use a harness, hula hoop, or nothing? This one is personal preference because I’ve heard advantages and disadvantages to all options. There are harnesses with handles that allow the straps to be adjusted to different lengths so that Mom or Dad can basically “steer” the child down the hill and teach them to turn. Some parents have said harnesses prevent kids from learning on their own because the harness holds the child up, so a hula hoop is the best option. Other parents say put the wedgie on the kids skis, tell them to put their hands on their knees and make a pie, and then ski backwards or walk down the hill in front of them. We’ll probably try everything! The first time we went I wore boots and Trenton wore skis so we could try different approaches.

6. Enrol your child in ski lessons. Sometimes kids learn better when someone else (anyone else besides their parents!) teaches them. Private lessons can be good for the one-on-one help, but I think it could be good for kids to see other kids learning and succeeding because it makes them want to try too. At least, it worked when Owen was learning how to put on his own shoes! We’ll probably try a lesson next month.

Keep it fun is probably my best advice. The most important thing is that everyone is outside being active and having fun together!

The Importance of the Ending

I recently finished reading The Privileges by Jonathan Dee, and rather than write a review of the novel, I thought this time I’d write a quick post on the importance of a strong ending. Obviously I can’t do this without giving away the ending, so spoiler alert!

First let me start off by saying I enjoyed reading this book and I would recommend The Privileges. Jonathan Dee is a fantastic writer with strong prose and the ability to write morally ambiguous characters with emotional depth. However, I felt the ending was disappointing.

The Privileges starts out strong with a wedding scene told in present point of view and dances between the characters like a film camera. We move from the bride waking up at her mother’s house and avoiding the step-sister she was forced to make a bridesmaid, to the groom waking up in the hotel and itching to call his bride, to the nervous best man practicing his speech in the shower, to the groom’s father sitting at the bar criticizing the bride’s family for planning an extravagant wedding, etc., etc. I was immediately invested in the characters and what would happen to them–would the best man blow his speech? Would the bridesmaid wreck the wedding somehow? Would the two families fight?

In fact, I felt that the entire novel was building toward a big disaster, and I kept turning the pages to find out what. Cynthia morphs from a blushing bride to a bored stay-at-home mom to an overindulgent mother who tries too hard to be her kids’ friend. In order to give Cynthia the life she wants, Adam starts insider trading, makes more money than the family knows how to spend, and as often happens, starts getting sloppy, leading me to believe that one day he will fall–only he never does.

Neither do his children, even though April starts doing drugs and gets into a nearly fatal accident, which her mother just shrugs off. On his search to discover a new outsider artist, Noah ends up in the apartment of a convicted criminal, and though we never learn what crime he committed, we assume it involved physical assault after he hits Noah on the head and locks him in the apartment. Noah escapes and on the drive home begins concocting a lie to tell his family and girlfriend about his whereabouts to save face, and that is how the novel ends. 

When I closed the book, I was left with the impression of having just read a series of events–interesting and engaging events, no doubt–rather than a story. In a way, I felt that there was no point. I think one of the reasons writing endings can be so hard is that they have to be larger than life. Sure, in real life Adam might get away with breaking the law without any repercussions, but in a novel I want to know that his actions had an affect–on himself, on his family, and on others if he gets away with it.

The ending is the reader’s final impression. Authors can do everything else right, but if the ending is weak, that is unfortunately what the reader will remember. This is why endings are so tricky to write! It’s so important to tie up all those loose end subplots and tell the reader exactly what happened to the characters they’ve fallen in love with and invested time reading.