“You’re a dick to ski with.” That’s what my son told me last winter. The good news: I actually listened, begged for a second chance, and have been working on changing.
I’ve been skiing since I was three. I love it. And I’ve been skiing with my son since he was one. We did the days of one ski run and then hot chocolate—done for the day. But each year he improved and each year he was getting closer to keeping up with me, or even being ahead of me. And eventually my parental willingness to wait and offer encouragement turned into: GAME ON, LET’S RIP, SEE YOU AT THE BOTTOM. I like to ski top-to-bottom—I enjoy the burn and the challenge of keeping it together the whole way down. Well, my son doesn’t like that as much. And then I wind up at the bottom of the hill, wondering what happened.
“You’re a dick to ski with.” That stuck with me. And he’s right. It’s funny, because I’ve been trying to teach my son tolerance, forgiveness and understanding since he has been born.
After my son called me out, I panicked and had to check in with myself. I love my son and I want to ski with him forever. I started thinking about why I was acting like that. Here’s what I realized: Between work and life, I don’t ever feel like I get to ski as much as I’d like to. And when it comes down to it, I’m selfish when it comes to skiing.I was setting the day with my own expectations as opposed to letting it naturally unfold. When the day didn’t go my way, I turned into a dick. Something had to change.
The first thing I did was ask for a second chance. Apparently he’d already given me a few, but I asked for another one. I put myself on the back burner and looked at him like he was my little buddy again—instead of just another ski partner to rip with. I looked at him like the one who would fall asleep in the car before we left the ski resort parking lot. I adjusted what was important to me, shifting my focus back to his ability, his lines and his happiness. I would check in and see if I was being a good ski partner.
The big breakthrough actually came this summer, mountain biking. If I was in the lead, I would make sure I could hear his voice behind me, or he went first. During our rides he would talk the whole time. YES, a teenage boy talking to his father. VICTORY! The next big breakthrough was on a ride we cut short because he wasn’t feeling it. Before, I would have kept going by myself. This time I said, “I’m all set. I justed wanted to get out for a bit and that’s all I needed.” I finally put myself aside to stay with my partner, my son.
I’m looking forward to this winter with him and I’m confident I can focus on what’s really important: being there for him when we’re together. If he wants to spend time with me, then I’ll do my best to be present and cherish that time. I’ve learned from him that he also needs his moments to himself like I do. Sometimes those solo moments are seen as selfish or as unhealthy in our society—but when we do enjoy them in a healthy way, we become better people and our love tanks are filled to the brim. I know after I ski a day for myself, I come back stoked and my tank is full of love.
If there’s one thing that you should take away from this, it’s that you need to get your kids in tip-top shape so they can keep up … whoa … I mean, obviously I’m still working on it.