RAISING ELLE
Ski Bum Parents and a Not-So-Dedicated Young Skier
by Martinique Davis
02.09.12 - 11:14 am
Elle has three pairs of ski boots, two ski helmets, a bevy of ski harness devices, and an Edgy-Wedgie. She also has two ski patrolling parents, lives five minutes from a chairlift, and attends a pre-school that offers a mid-winter Ski P.E. program.

“What’s Elle skiing now? Gold Hill?” people ask us, only half-joking. When you grow up in a place like Telluride, it’s virtually a given that you’re going to be a ripping skier, right?

Never mind that the kid is not even four years old. Who in Telluride hasn’t yet seen a pint-sized person carving turns at mach speed down Misty Maiden? City kids learn early how to navigate things like the subway. Mountain kids, meanwhile, are essentially born with skis on, capable of plotting a course down Kant-Mak-M as effortlessly as if they were crossing the street. Just as kids raised in Boston are genetically predisposed to be Red Sox fans, kids raised in Telluride inherently adore rocketing down snow-covered slopes.

Well, mostly. Except for my kid.

When I ask Elle if she likes to ski, she readily accedes that she likes to drink marshmallow-soused hot chocolate. Apparently, that cup of lukewarm brown liquid waiting at the bottom of the Meadows is the only compelling reason my daughter has to suit up and hit the slopes.

“But, isn’t it fun to, you know, put your skis on and go zooming down the hill? The wind in your face…sun up above…snow sliding beneath your feet?”

Elle looks at me like I just asked her if she would like Swiss chard mixed in with her mac ’n cheese. Or if she wants to help me fold underwear.

When picking her up from ski school, her instructors inform me that she certainly has the ability to ski, she just doesn’t really want to. “She’s capable of skiing the Meadows, but she doesn’t really have any desire to leave the Magic Carpet,” they tell me, week after week.

And week after week, I suppress the urge to panic. My child doesn’t really want to ski? She has no desire to explore the ski mountain located literally at her back door? But she’s the daughter of ski bums! Shouldn’t skiing be hardwired into her being, just as greyhounds are born to run? Shouldn’t a ski town kid heed the call of the lift line like a salmon driven instinctually upriver to the place of its birth? Has the ski-obsessed gene inexplicably deserted the Davis/Prohaska family?

I am reminded by more levelheaded parents that Elle is barely four years old. That it will probably just take her a little while to get “into” skiing. That I shouldn’t worry, my kid will graduate from the Magic Carpet some day. And, she’ll actually be happy about it. That given enough time, she probably will grow up to be a well-rounded ski bum herself; a ski town bunny whose memories of her formative ski years aren’t comprised entirely of sitting in the base lodge before a mug of cocoa overflowing with mini-marshmallows, ignoring her parent’s piteous pleas to take just one more run!

Which brings me to my recent ruminations on how a parent should reconcile their child’s likes and dislikes with their own. Despite our well-intentioned resolutions that we’ll be proud of our children regardless of what they choose to do with their lives (barring those things that could land them in prison), there is a part of every parent that secretly hopes to live out some Archie Manning-style fantasy. That our kids will take what we’re passionate about, and expound upon it. Become the MVPs of Ski Bums, Inc.

Is it crazy to assume that a child born unto the ski town culture at least enjoy the sport, even if they don’t blossom into the next Lindsey Vonn? Is it presumptuous to expect that the offspring of career ski bums be, at the minimum, a devoted skier?

I suppose only time will tell for the Davis/Prohaska clan. In the meanwhile, Elle’s father and I will continue to try to convince our child that skiing is awesome. And if getting her out on the slopes means bribing her there with promises of marshmallow-puffy mugs of hot cocoa, so be it.
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