The First Failed Family Outing

There were many reasons that we should not have tried to go cross-country skiing with two very small children on a blisteringly cold holiday Monday of school vacation week.

We all remember those disaster outings from childhood, the ones that you may laugh about now, like 30 years later… But at the time someone was crying.  One summer when I was about nine years old, my parents rented a cabin in Nova Scotia that was advertised to be “rustic charmer just a short hike down to a beautiful pristine watering hole”. Well, in the short version, the cabin was a joke, the stove wouldn’t light, there was no path to the watering hole, so we got lost and then attacked by bees in the forest, and then a black bear tried to break down the door our first night. We ended up in a nearby motel. I just remember that we ate Apple Jacks cereal for like three meals at least.

Looking back, it’s all kind of funny… But I really feel for my folks traveling that far from home with me and my brother, me the sassy pre-teen and he the gentle preschooler. How awful they must have felt when we all got stung by bees, when there was no real food to eat, when the bear tried to kill us…

I really feel for them, because our failed outing yesterday lasted all of a few hours, maybe, and it was so miserable and I felt so bad about it, I really did cry. I felt awful that I didn’t foresee how miserable it would be for the kids.

Me, Hubby, and Nana all love to cross-country ski. It’s been a snowy winter, and we thought, ‘Hey! Let’s check out that place at the golf course a few towns away. And let’s rent those ski sleds so we can take the kids!’ I had a vision of swooshing around the wholesome expanse of the course with Babygirl in tow, she munching on goldfish crackers and watching the trees and hills glide by… Babyboy leaning back in his sled behind Hubby, and then us all taking a hot cocoa break in the lodge..

Except, this place had no lodge. I had gotten it confused in my head with this other place at Mount Washington that Hubby and I have visited, pre-kids. This place is actually a very small and very basic building, and it was intensely crowded. We weren’t quite sure where to go to collect our rental gear. We were jostled and separated. Babyboy had a meltdown and refused to put on ski pants or boots. We had to force him into his gear and drag him kicking and screaming outside. And it was so, so cold: twenty degrees, with a high wind, so who knows how cold with the wind chill. By the time we figured out how to set up the sleds, our hands were almost frostbitten. The kids were howling with cold.

In a last valiant attempt to make it fun, I strapped Babygirl into her sled and pulled her a little ways. ‘Maybe she’ll like it, maybe once we get moving,’ I thought. I zipped her into the sled, it had a plastic screen so it was like a little enclosed capsule. ‘She’ll be protected from the wind’, I thought.

She was terrified, poor thing. And cold. I made it about thirty feet, with her screaming, screaming in fear and discomfort. Also, it was really, really hard to pull the sled. It took all my strength to get going on the flat starting area.  I realized that if I were stopped at the base of even the gentlest slope, I wouldn’t be able to get traction to pull her at all.

So we called it. Nana was kind enough to offer to take the kids home with her, so Hubby and I could ski a while. We carried them to her car and tucked them into their car seats, and they were so happy, munching on goldfish crackers and content with the plan to go play at Nana’s.

Hubby and I skied for maybe twenty minutes, but my heart wasn’t in it. Also, I couldn’t feel my hands. I had just gotten so darned cold with all the setup, I couldn’t warm up. And, I felt sick from forcing the kids into such an unpleasant situation.

So we called it. We went out to lunch instead. We retreated to our standby seafood place, and sat at the bar munching fried calamari with Olympic couples figure skating on the big screen. We processed. We decided that, if nothing else, it was a learning experience.

And someday, it might be kind of funny…

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