Dear 14-Year-Old-Snowboarding Instructor,
Okay, so yeah... we're the jackasses who are watching the Olympics every night and decided to take a snowboarding lesson. Well, my husband over there's a teacher and the schools are out all this week, which you probably know, because... well, sorry, you don't look a day over 16, but maybe that's the braces. My best friend got braces when she turned 30, I'm not judging. Just saying. Oh, you're 14?!? Reeeallly... So this $100 per lesson, this is a good deal for you, then, huh?
Experience? Well, no. Skate boarding? Nope. Other sports? Um, I read the shit out of books, does that count? Yeah, see, so... Things are always kind of harder for me, so I gotta tell you, I need specific instructions. For example, telling me to "just slide?" That's not really helpful. I was the last kid on the block to learn how to ride a bike, see? I had this amazing skiing lesson out in Jackson Hole a year or two ago, and it was great because the instructor broke everything down, very specifically, like, teaching me about subtle ways to steer by shifting my weight and thinking about the angle of the skis in relation to the mountain? That was good, that's...
What? Oh. Well, I'll just lay here on the mountain like a moron then.
Right okay, see... I get that other students can "just feel the speed and trust their instincts" but that's exactly what I don't really GET. I don't think I have those instincts, but.... okay, digging my heels and pointing my toes up, that's perfect, okay, I'm stopping! I'm totally stopping! I'm, I'm- NOT stopping, actually, uh... still kind sliding here... What? What?!? Small child! SMALL CHILD!
So, standing back up, right? How do I? Um... So, hi, we've established that I'm not a natural, but see... telling me just to "pop up" isn't really helping me. Like, how? Okay, so it looks like that guy is really digging into the snow with the the back edge of his board, there. Should I be doing that? Okay. Okay. Got that. I'm scooching my butt close to the board, got that. Bringing my arms forward, check.. and.... slipping! slipping! The board keeps sliding out from under me. How do I stop that? By popping up? Really. You don't say. Ah, yes, thank you for suggesting that since I have such a hard time standing back up that perhaps I should just try not to fall down. Yes, young man, that's very astute; people who don't fall down DON'T have to worry about standing back up, do they?
Oh, our hour is up? Shocking. Here's your hundred bucks. AT LEAST *I* KNOW HOW TO DRIVE, MAN-CHILD. Nyah nyah.
Does anyone else want to make out with Shaun White? There's just something about him that reminds me of a band geek who was truly on the bottom of the social ladder- yes, marching bands have their own internal caste system- as a frosh, but then started growing his hair out in 10th grade, and by his senior year, he's one of the coolest people you know, somehow. I see that gold medal and the red hair and his coaches accidentally saying "shit" on live, prime time television and I just want to make out with him under some bleachers somewhere.
Joel's and my shaky foray into snowboarding with the child-guru aside, we actually stayed out on the mountain for another two hours or so. I learned more on the bunny hill from a very nice guy who also just started than I did from our "instructor." Joel was pretty good at it, and by the time we went into the lodge for over-priced soup, I was beating him down to the bottom and falling a lot less. The part where I got all flustered and had to flip onto my stomach and crawl away army-style with the heavy board weighing my ankles down at angles that ankles don't really like to be at felt kind of worth it, in the end.
I do think, though, that having to be taught how to do things step by painful step makes me a better teacher for some things. Two weeks ago, our friends "cashed in" their family Christmas present from me and Joel. Oscar and Mitzi got to have a weekend to themselves with no kids, and Zak and Melanie stayed with us for a weekend sleepover of snow-tubing, ice-skating, s'mores, and getting whatever they wanted from the craft store, basically. Melanie got something in her eye and had a weird allergic to reaction to something in the first 45 minutes she was here. As I was convincing her to hold a warm washcloth on her eye and offering hydrocortisone cream and an ice pack for the "itchies" and counting down the moments until the children's benadryl took effect, I was mentally thinking of what I would say if it got to the point where she needed to be driven home in the middle of the night. "Hi! It's 1 a.m.! I know you had big plans for your romantic birthday weekend, Mitzi, but I broke your kid. Her eye swelled shut. Okay, bye!"
Yeah, no. We got it under control, and then the next day I taught her how to ice-skate, which, when I was her age, went about as well as the snowboarding lesson did on Tuesday. When I was seven, people telling me things like, "Try to let go of the wall," "slow and steady" and "Don't fall!" just didn't work for me. I had to stumble into it all my own way, but now I can say things like, "Pretend you're a puppet with a string attached to the top of your head pulling you upright. Keep your weight centered directly over your skates. If you lean forward, you fall on your face. If you lean back, you land on your butt. Point your skates in the direction you want to go." And it worked!
Joel was in charge of saying things like, "NO MORE COMPLAINING ABOUT YOUR SCARF." Then we bought them hot dogs (actually hot, on a warm bun) out of a vending machine, and they were thrilled.
Look at these two. You'd use all your parking meter quarters to buy them salty, reconstituted meat products out of a box, too, I promise. :)