. . . when you just run out of patience with the individual resultant from the combination of you and your partner’s genetic material.
I had expected today to be somewhat difficult. It was a long and tiring week back at work after the holiday, and Bridget had a skating lesson in the morning. I had thought we would be late for it as usual, but surprisingly, I got up on time, had her eating breakfast and dressed in good time, and we arrived and had her rink-side with a little time to spare. Pleasant.
Got some nummies on the way home — breakfast sandwiches and hot chocolates for the kids, a chocolate chip muffin for me, as well as a dark roast coffee with cream and mint chocolate flavour — and after settling back in, did a little bit of cleaning (stressing the LITTLE) and chatting online.
Then I went to withdraw some funds for going to the ski hill and in a store afterward, discovered that in my zeal to stay on budget while keeping up with bills, I’d paid myself out of money.
You know, one of those moments where you’re at the till and using your debit card fully expecting funds to be there, but whoopsie! Embarrassing. Thankfully I had cash, but still, not the ideal situation. I mean, at least I paid my bills this month — so far — but it’s incredibly frustrating to think that one has remembered all the details by taking notes and making lists and then finding out that you’ve double-crossed yourself.
On top of that, the blower in my car wasn’t working all morning during -30 C temperatures. That’s super-fun.
Yin and yang all day. Get home again, load the car up with ski stuff and offspring, and happily, the elder child gets the fan working by tapping the bottom of the dashboard with his boot. Huzzah! We had heat! Left on time, picked up three more hot chocolates and a pack of Timbits for the road, and arrived on time at the ski hill for my daughter’s lesson.
I get her suited up, boots on and skis strapped, and while she’s waiting patiently and excitedly for her instructor, I duck back inside the chalet to check on her brother and put some money (precious little this time — better than zero, I guess, but still a bit of a let-down) on our memberships. By the time I come back out, five to ten minutes later, her skis are off and back on the rack; she’s covered in snow, her face streaked with tears, and refuses to do any more skiing for the rest of the hour.
What. The. Ever. Loving. Frack…
Here’s what I missed: she began her lesson by snowploughing correctly down the training hill but was about to crash into another child who had stumbled or fallen or slid into her path. She moved to avoid a collision but ended up “flipping” (her expression) head over heels, bonking her head (in its protective helmet) on the snow. And that was it.
My motherly patience warred with my fervent wish to get out on the hill myself and enjoy the afternoon. As a parent, I knew that I could stay with her and try to coax her. But did I want to do the whole helicopter-thing? How would that help, exactly? Sometimes she just listens better to someone else than her mother. If I left her to her instructor’s supervision and care, would that be the height of selfishness (I could feel the eyes of other parents — better parents — judging me), or a lesson to her to learn from her mistakes and accept the help offered by the professional? After all, the last thing I want to encourage in my children is a sense of helplessness, reverting to excuses rather than stepping up to the challenge.
So I gave her a pep talk, very briefly, and a hug, and then I told her that I would return at the end of her lesson. And I went to the hill.
With every run down over the next forty-five minutes, I could see her little pink snowsuit, still in the same place, where a friend of the instructor had moved in to talk to her as I’d skied away. She literally did not go anywhere. Later, she’d complain that her hands were like ice; I said to her, “What did you expect? You stood there for an hour and didn’t move, didn’t exercise. Of course you’re cold!”
The guilt of leaving her to stand there, miserable and stubborn, never went away. I thought to myself, regardless of whether she’s actually skiing, she’s outside and making choices. And I’m paying for the supervision at the very least. It’s only an hour. Meanwhile, my conscience wanted me to turn around and trudge back across the frozen pond to bargain, cajole, threaten, do whatever it took to make her comply and ski down that damned hill.
See, my rationale is this: I want this to be a family activity. I enjoy it and my son enjoys it, but my daughter is too young to be left on her own while we go participate. There is a nearly five-year age gap between them. I’m trying to make sure that I balance time with both of them, but at the same time, doing so requires finding activities that either both of them can do with me, or doing one with Jack while Bridget is supervised (e.g., spending time with her dad, grandparents, or with friends). They both like the snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, which is great, but I had noticed that she particularly loves going down the hills when skiing the trails, so I thought, hey, we might all be able to go alpine skiing together!
Life is what happens when you’re making other plans, right?
I have to accept that she just might not take to it. She tends to envision herself being wildly successful at first try with many things, and then quitting when they are too hard and she doesn’t feel up to the challenge. We went through this same pattern with soccer, swimming, dance, baseball, and karate. She nearly did the same with skating, but somehow, whether through luck or persistence, bribery (I call them “incentives”) or whatever, we got her through the initial hesitation and now she’s loving her progress.
So that’s fine. Maybe she’s found her winter sport niche. Terrific! But that leaves Jack and I out, since neither of us particularly enjoy that sport.
There isn’t a perfect solution to this specific parenting problem. We have no family closer than an hour and a half away. My husband tends to work weekends driving cab. I am determined that this will not be another winter where we sit inside all weekend, being couch potatoes. For my mental health and exercise, for my teenager’s physical and mental well-being, for our continuing bonding and growing process as a family, especially considering that Jack may pick a post-secondary institution that’s far away when he graduates high school in five years or so, we need to make these Saturday afternoons at the ski hill happen. Even if that means Bridget sitting through an hour’s ski lesson without actually skiing. At the very least, she’s supervised and outside, and after her time is up, then I can chat or play or whatever with her while her brother has an hour to himself or with a friend on the runs. I will find a way to make it work out, and then this crummy feeling in my heart will ease. Hopefully.
Three deep breaths . . .