Once upon a time there was a little family on a little vacation. The family was made up of one Daddy, one Mommy and three littles named Ezra, Caroline and Nora. The vacationing family thought it would be fun to go skiing. Daddy knew how to ski quite well. Mommy skied once in her entire life, had an experience she has tried unsuccessfully to block from her memory forever and then started snow boarding. None of the littles had ever been skiing. “Never, never” in the words of little Nora.
Well, this little family thought that it would just be good clean family fun to pack up the mini-van, join their cousins the Perfect Family and head for the mountains in Idaho (yes, I use artistic freedom when I say “mountains in Idaho”). So one bright, sunny President’s day morning (not early, because that would be stupid in addition to crazy) the two families loaded up coats, socks, mittens, boots, pants, coveralls, hats, one pair of skis, hot chocolate, sandwiches, pretzels, cookies, cookies, cookies, peppermint candies, apples, oranges, fruit snacks, breakfast bars, granola bars, silly putty, coloring books, crayons, little cars, coffee, water, six children and four adults into two vehicles and started driving. The adults chatted their way through the remote (as in--no stop lights, no stop signs, boarded up businesses only, one small school for K-12—remote) towns along the drive. The kids listened to tapes, looked at books, watched dvds along the drive. And after an hour and a half, they arrived at their destination.
The parking lot was crowded with holiday skiers.
After 30 minutes of wrestling around in the back of cars, hollering “pass me Nora’s mittens” and “did we bring a hat for Caroline” and “Are these my snow pants or yours?” and “it’s really cold outside!” and “the hot chocolate already spilled” and “I have to go potty” and “when are we going skiing mommy?” and a few other things….they trudged up the hill to the rental lodge. The Mommy in the back who was not planning on hitting the slopes was loaded down with one heavy picnic basket, two thermoses of hot chocolate, one thermos of coffee, one purse full of toys for the kids, a camera and one squirmy two year old who kept crying “I want you, Mommy” every time she tried to put her down. This Mommy happened to be wearing snow boarding boots and while they are much more comfortable than ski boots, they still give you calf cramps if you are carrying too much stuff.
After everyone was in the rental shop the measuring, weighing, trying on, crying about how the boots feel (“That’s just what ski boots feel like, Caroline!!!!!!”) started. The Perfect Family emerged much sweatier than they started. “Why did we put on all our gear before starting the rental process” they were heard to exclaim. “Isn’t this fun” said one Daddy to the other. All the other skiers who passed by the two families looked knowingly.
Finally, two Daddies, one Mommy and five kids trudged with awkwardly bent knees out into the snow. The two year old and the other Mommy, weighted down with all the same gear as before PLUS two pairs of snow boots from her older two kids, tried to walk up the stairs to the “lodge”. When they arrived in the lodge they found every single chair and table occupied. At least 200 people were crammed into a room meant to comfortably seat 100. Signs everywhere proclaimed “Do not leave your sack lunches or coolers in the lodge before or after eating.” Coolers and picnic baskets lined the walls. Coats, coolers and boots were stuffed under all the chairs and tables.
“Uhhhhh” thought the Mommy. The two year old, aka, Nora was starting to holler. The Mommy found a table with no coolers stuffed under one end and she stuffed her belongings under it—with people sitting at it. She didn’t even worry about anyone stealing the camera inside. Well, actually she did worry, but the worry about the hollering Nora and what might be happening on the slopes outweighed the camera theft worry.
Sooooo…..the Mommy (I’m sick of typing that, we all know it’s me, so the Mommy will from here on be referred to as Brooke) hiked Nora higher on her slippery snow pant hips and headed out into the snow. She expected to trudge around for quite a while until she found her offspring and husband. She needn’t have worried. The Perfect Family and her own family were sitting on the snow surrounded by gear just outside the Lodge door. One by one they were carting kids and skis and poles up to the “Magic Carpet”. Once there, they all landed in a heap while Daddy Perfect went to figure out the lift ticket situation. Daddy Tadd decided to take Ezra up the Magic Carpet while waiting. No one was checking for lift tickets, so why not? By now Nora is screaming “I want to ski, I want to ski” and arching her back for all she’s worth. Oh joy. So much for letting her play happily in the snow while Brooke watches from the sidelines, encouraging her husband and children, taking pictures to document the epic day in the fresh pow. Brooke looks up from glaring at Nora to see that the Magic Carpet has ceased moving. Tadd and his skis and Ezra’s skis are on the Magic Carpet. Ezra is in the snow beside the Magic Carpet. Perfect. Soon Ezra is back on (not clicked into his skis) and the MC keeps moving. Daddy Perfect returns with lift tickets and begins clipping them onto jackets. All three of their kids (8,5,2) click into skis and the Perfects hop on the MC together. No one falls off. No one is screaming or arching their back—at least not that Brooke can hear over the sound of Nora’s screaming. Nora is drawing a few looks by now. Most are giggling. Ezra and Tadd appear to be headed down the Bunny Slope. Brooke cannot tell if they are smiling, but it doesn’t look too bad. Caroline is attempting to click into her skis. Brooke, the non-skiing Mommy, figures that might be a bad idea and pulls her down into the snow beside her. Eventually Tadd and Ezra make their way down. Brooke hollers to Tadd “I can’t stay here” because a ski class is gathering close by and they can’t hear anything over Nora’s roaring. Tadd either can’t hear or is not listening. He replies that Ezra’s attitude is not okay. He has clearly had a frustrating time coming down the Bunny Slopes. This is not starting out as the clean family fun they had planned. He awkwardly loads up Caroline and wearily starts another MC ride.
Brooke gathers Ezra and (still roaring) Nora and heads into the lodge. Thankfully the table where she stuffed all her belongings has two empty seats at the end. Ezra is still grumpy, but not crying. He seems to know he is reaping what he sowed. Nora, on the other hand, is just getting started. She flings her body backwards like a pro-gymnast. Her face is as purple as her snowsuit by now. She is screaming “NO, NO, NO” and flailing. Slowly, all 200 people in the lodge start to watch. A few even make eye contact with Brooke. She is whispering to Nora to stop now. She tries to soothe and comfort her. She attempts a hug. She tries to stop the bent over body from falling to the concrete floor. She prays desperately. She prays out loud with Nora. Nothing is stopping Nora. Just as the last of the 200 eyes fastens on the show, Nora winds up with both hands and slaps Brooke. “oooohhhh” comes the collective cry from the crowd. There is no where to go. No place to discipline, no place to hide, no place to put the two year old on the ground, curl up into a ball and cry. Brooke tells Ezra to stay put and heads for an exit to the parking lot. Halfway down the stairs she notices that Ezra is following her. She is fighting tears. Nora finally slows the tantrum. She slowly calms down out in the cold air. The war is not over, but this battle is drawing to a public close. With no other options, Brooke re-enters the lodge, forces herself to make eye contact with all the staring eyes rather than looking away, and plops down on an empty chair. The very kind lady sharing the table smiles in sympathy and says “good job”. Nora succumbs to sleep, Ezra succumbs to a long stay in the lodge and Brooke refrains from the tears she’s longing to give in to. She looks at the clock and is tempted to say something she shouldn’t—three more hours until the ski session is over. She looks out the window and notices that the Perfect Family is headed up the ski lift. All five of them. Including the two year old. It’s starting to snow.
Eventually Caroline and Tadd come back into the lodge. Caroline’s attitude was marginally better than Ezra’s. It needed a little break, though. Thus, Caroline and Ezra were traded out. Nora remained sleeping in Brooke’s arms. Caroline dug around in the picnic basket and found something to keep her happy. Pretty soon Nora was awake, but not screaming. Brooke was still not very happy, but at least no one was slapping her. After an hour Tadd brought Ezra in for a break. And soon after that Mommy Perfect and her two year old, Levi, joined the party in the lodge. Brooke was able to talk to Mommy Perfect and confide in her what had been happening. Talking about things always makes one feel better, and this was no exception. Mommy Perfect is a pretty wonderful sister-in-law and she was very sympathetic. The kind lady sharing the table adds to the story saying that every mom in the room understood. Mommy Perfect then offered to take Caroline back out on the slopes with her after she finished her break. And she did. And Caroline thrived under the tutelage of someone other than her parent. Levi stayed in the lodge with Brooke. He was not happy to see his Mommy go. At first he cried—but he did not throw a tantrum. He hid from Brooke under a chair and stared at all the goings on around him. Eventually he came out from under the chair to enjoy hot chocolate, several cookies, two breakfast bars, more cookies, a package of fruit snacks and perhaps some peppermint candies. By this time, the crayons, coloring books, silly putty and little cars had all been dumped out onto the table…and floor. Pretty soon Tadd came in and took Ezra back out with him. Brooke broke out the camera and took multiple shots of the kids in the lodge and a few of the kids in the snow, through the window. The next time Brooke looked at the clock she knew that barring another explosive tantrum, she could make it through the day. The three hours were almost up.
When Mommy Perfect came back in and found out just how many goodies young Levi had consumed she simply said “That’s just fine! You do whatever it takes!”.
Belongings were stuffed back into the purse and picnic basket and all the weary bones were hauled one more time down the stairs and into the rental shop. Gear was returned, the potty was put to use and four adults and six children trudged out the door with less awkwardly bent legs toward the cars. The same wrestling game ensued upon reaching the car. Wet gloves and snow pants and coats and hats and mittens and socks were peeled off and tossed into trunks. Kid trades were negotiated. Nora was allowed to run around the now empty parking lot to rid herself of all the energy she had trapped during her three hour stay in the lodge.
Finally all was loaded up and away we spun towards home. We knew Grandma was there making delicious hot soup. The going was a little slower since the snow was falling a little more earnestly. The day was hashed out between Tadd and Brooke, easing their frustrations as they shared with one another. They passed through the same remote towns, Tadd waxing nostalgic about the smell of those same school gyms he used to travel to as a teen for high school basketball games. Small towns or no—they could field some pretty hot teams.
After forty minutes of driving they pulled onto the freeway.
As they were getting up to speed, suddenly Tadd let off the gas and exclaimed “Oh no! I left my skis up there!”
The next day the ski resort was closed due to high winds. Tadd was unable to go pick up his skis. Thankfully, the resort manager went up and found them and sent them down to Burley with a resort worker. She handed them off to us on our way back to Seattle a couple days later. Yeah!
The Perfect Family is near and dear to us. We love them. We know they are not actually perfect. We think they might have some faults…we’ll let you know when we find them. I think they know I am only teasing them. I mean, only a perfect family could have three kids on skis—the youngest only two years old, right????
We had planned to put our two kids in a ski class—alas, they only had classes for children aged 7 and older.
I do not normally write about my kids’ tantrums on my blog. This is not because my kids don’t ever throw tantrums. It is more because I don’t want them to read it someday and feel humiliated. Or to have the event become celebrated and make them feel like it is okay to repeat that behavior. However, I thought that I’d use some creative freedom here. Also, I figured maybe, just maybe one poor mom out there might be able to relate. Because we all know who loves company more than anyone else: misery! If you struggle with your child and public tantrums, I have a hot cup of tea and a spot on my couch for you. Obviously, I can’t really offer a fix to your problem—but I’m willing to listen.
In addition to my butchering of the King’s grammar, I know I slip in and out of present and past tense. I’d go back and fix it….but morning will come with hungry kids, dirty bathrooms, homework requiring help and a very demanding Jillian Michaels before I can say “proof read”! That’s the beauty of a blog—no one is giving me a grade.