When your son becomes your teacher
I skied thick, flying powder, with four boys, ages 7 to 12, and one 8-year-old girl, Sophie, and they raged. We went up and down and up and down on steep, wooded terrain.On one pitch, Teddy, the elder of my two sons, said, “Mom. Do you want a tip? Your turns are too round.”I said, “It’s to keep control.””Ski the fall line. Look.” He demonstrated.”Then I get going too fast.””Point ’em, Mom!”One year when I was about 16, my father and I signed up for ski school during spring break, while traveling from home in Maryland to faraway, exotic Vermont.For the school, each of us did turns down a slope. I was ushered toward one group; he, another. He later said that he asked the ski instructor if we could be in the same class, so we could talk about what we learned.”Well, sir,” the instructor said, “she’s a little quicker.”My father may have received the words with a bit of woe, but he had the humor to turn them into a lasting family joke.Last spring, when Teddy, then 11, sampled a few days’ training with a racing program, his skiing changed before our eyes. His downhill leg shot out, angulating. He passed me in ability, though I don’t know that he knew it then.This year, having joined the team, he was soon not just a better skier than I, but far better.In March, we as a family attended his youth championship, and Roy, 9, kindly included by Teddy’s teammates George and Bobby, skied for days with the racers.”When George first started racing, the older kids were always nice to him,” George’s mother, Linda, recalled. “He has never forgotten it.”The competitors had to arrive at 7:20 a.m. each day to board a special “racers’ lift,” and Roy would hop on (“I poached!” he’d crow), and later hang out at the starting areas. His skiing improved by osmosis.He’d show us parents his “racing” turns. “See me driving my knees?”Roy and I skied down some of the mogul fields for which Winter Park is famous. And, granted, I have bad elbow tendonitis, aggravated by poling, and was having to take it easy, but, I hate to tell you, I saw that little green jacket, headed down the fall line, get smaller and smaller.Standing at the bottom, he said, “Be more aggressive, Mom.”Over spring break, Teddy said at dinner one night, “Mom, you have to pull your feet apart. And carve your turns. You slide them around… Why are you laughing?” he asked me indignantly.Mike hurriedly cleared dishes, ducking in mirth.Teddy appealed to him. “Dad. She has her poles like this and her knees like this. And her feet are…” He slid his socks around the floor.I kept laughing.”Mom. A ski racer is telling a knee-together person what to do. Hold the edge all the way through the turn.””Teddy, Mama carves some,” Mike protested weakly.”Mom. Follow me on a run tomorrow. We’ll go straight so you’ll learn to go fast and pull your knees apart a little.” He walked by and tousled my hair.Just for the record: It’s not like I suck at skiing. I ski quite a bit, and am under the impression that I ski all terrain.I shouted suddenly, “Teddy, I taught you to ski!””So?””And you used to cry,” I added with spite.”Yeah?” he said calmly. “Well, I don’t now.”In the kitchen, Mike busied himself.”Hey, you’re a pretty good skier,” he said. “Very steady. Ve-ry steady. But maybe you should listen.”I stared.”Hey,” he said. “Teddy drops me now, too. But Roy doesn’t yet.””Yet,” I said. I knew this day was coming. They’re a little quicker. I just thought I had a few more years.Alison Osius lives in Carbondale and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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