By Merisa Sherman
With big eyes, she looked out at the carpet with trepidation. You could see her tiny little mitten wrap around her father’s leg as she made sure her support system was intact. She stood, barely holding herself up, as her dad bent down to help her kick the soccer ball and then squish the bug with the tiniest little ski boots one would ever see. Her helmet was barely on her head, sitting atop her favorite hat. There was adamantly “No” goggles and with no wind to be found there was no need to fight the battle.
Today would be the culmination of a lifetime of hard work. Her 2-year-old lifetime. Her ski-addicted parents had been given a pair of wooden skis upon her birth and she had used them as toys since the beginning. They would lie next to her at nap time. She would use them to help her learn to crawl and the strap-on bindings were a desirable teething assistant. And now she was extremely adamant that they were “my skis!” And could point them out across the room.
She had grown up to a combination of ski songs from both Bob Gibson and Cocomelon, learning about skiing as she ate pizza and French fries for lunch. She could stomp like a dinosaur with her big ski boots on and learned open and close by playing with the buckles on her daddy’s ski boots.
With her mittens tucked underneath her jacket and her ski jacket all zipped up, she looked like combination of a ski bum and the kid from “A Christmas Story” as we loaded the Magic Carpet lift. Instantly, she looked around to daddy and tugged on his arm. With his daughter between his skis, Dad began making turns left and right, letting her skis run along the surface of the snow and trying to run over the colored whiskers drilled into the snow. They were green and blue and yellow — all colors she new the names of — and much to her delight, the pair skied to every single one!
On the third time up the carpet, she had forgotten about the cookies. “To the Top,” her little voice squeaked as she pointed her tiny mitten toward the top of the carpet. And so ever so slowly, I backed up, letting her stand by herself just like a big girl. When the carpet randomly stopped, she wobbled a bit but stood her ground. It was amazing. As she got to the top, you saw both hands reach out in front of her, and she slid off the carpet and slowly onto her back like the Rockette Soldiers at the end of the Radio City Christmas Show. But she had done it herself like a big girl and we grabbed her and threw her into the air, and you could hear her giggles as her skis swung up to the sky.
For the next few runs, we grownups made absolute fools of ourselves, as grownups are wont to do when a little one is around. We skated up the hill, skied backwards, did flat spins, tried to ski upside down, sidestepped like it was our favorite thing in the world and quacked like very loud ducks as we herringboned around. Drenched in sweat, we continued to laugh and giggle, just like we would have done skiing thigh deep powder on the best of ski days.
It was amazing.
All we wanted to do was show her that skiing was fun. Period. We were ski friends and we were inaugurating her into our ski family. There was no other goal. Each run we held her differently, making small adjustments to her balance and giving her more and more control so that hopefully, eventually, she would be able to stand on her own. Not ski, not turn, not walk — just stand on her skis and have fun.
And then, one run, it finally happened. I could feel her moving from me toward her daddy who was skiing backwards in front of us. Her arms were reaching out and I could feel her begin to really stand on her own. She didn’t notice. The only thing she knew was that she was smiling and this was fun. I could feel her weight begin to transfer to her own feet. The moment came and I very quietly whispered, “Go give daddy a big hug” and then let go.
It wasn’t much, but it was there. For 5 whole seconds, she floated along on her own skis her arms reaching forward for her daddy. He kept skiing backwards, his arms reaching out for his 2-year-old daughter as his grin got bigger and bigger. The ginormous smile on her face said it all. Margot is officially a skier!!