We took the dive.
My oldest son had his first, official ski school experience over the weekend at Sunday River, and things went not only about as well as I could have expected, but with a glowing ease that has the four-year-old already asking when he can go for a full day.
There was no whining about the cold, no grasping onto Mom's leg in fear of abandonment. Nothing. In fact, the only bumps in the road - besides the frost heaves passing by the Presidentials - were reserved for a father who grabbed the wrong bag out of the car in a race to get him to his appointment on time, and leaving his helmet, gloves, and ski pants behind. This was, of course, the very same father who forgot to hand his son said pair of gloves upon his departure from the ski school office. Give me credit though, I realized my blunder after my third run of the morning.
Luckily, the instructors are prepared for that sort of absent-mindedness on the part of parents, so his small hands didn't freeze. Not like he was gripping a cold pole anyway, right?
Anyway, the one time I tried to sneak a peek on him, he caught me and shook his head, "No." I feared that to mean that he wasn't quite enjoying himself in this endeavor, but once I noticed his enthusiasm in getting loaded onto the snowmobile-driven cart that would shuttle the youngsters to the top of the hill, I understood he was telling me to vacate. Indeed, upon his noon pickup, he informed me that the instructors told him he could stay the whole day next time. And why didn't we do a whole day this time anyway, Dad?
Granted, we initially decided to ease him in with a mere morning session, but his next trip, in a few weeks, will certainly be a full day after his initial experience.
After lunch, he informed me that he wanted to tackle the magic carpet, so indeed we schussed to the learning area, and rode it a few times up the "hill." My son then proceeded to show me his "pizza pie" stance, and how he learned to stop that morning. "I'm skiing down the mountain," he shrieked, with maybe an attempted turn or two mixed in. But he really did make stops. Really. OK, so if there were an object immediately in his path, he might have had some trouble, but slow, enhanced stopping motions? That's impressive enough for a first day. Or, maybe I'm just being a proud father. What's it to you?
What gives me more satisfaction though is that he can't wait to go again. As far as first days go, that's the best thing you can possibly hope for.
Eric Wilbur is a lifelong recreational skier who spends most of his winter and spring in the mountains of New England. He does not ski in jeans. You can read more of Eric's work here.
Heather Burke is an award winning ski journalist with over a decade of ski news coverage. As a former ski instructor and a ski parent, she knows the ski biz from the inside out. She and her family visit New England ski resorts, as well as the West and Canada, to report on the latest trends and their best family finds. Her husband Greg takes all the accompanying photos, and their work can be seen at www.familyskitrips.com and www.luxuryskitrips.com.