Take Your Kids Skiing

By WARREN MILLER for the Flathead Beacon

 I watched A SUV with sagging springs park a few cars away and Mom, Dad and five kids started pulling out skis and gear. The oldest kid had a newly hand-knitted sweater and the younger the kids were, the older the hand-knitted sweater they wore. Next to get unloaded were seven pair of skis, seven sets of poles, seven pair of ski boots and a bag of gold to trade for the lift tickets for all seven of them.

It was the O’Reilly family up for another day of fun in the sun and the snow.

I don’t know what Mr. O’Reilly does for a living but he is obviously very good at it because he is up here skiing every weekend and we all know that seven of anything that has anything to do with skiing is very pricey.

I was lucky. When my three kids were growing up I was producing ski movies and could buy almost any equipment wholesale. By the time Vail opened in 1962 our station wagon was so overloaded with five sets of everything that I started hauling a trailer along so there was enough room in the car for the five of us and someone to take care of the kids and tutor them at night.

I always had to be on the lift early with my skiers so we could get untracked powder snow shots. In Sun Valley we would eat breakfast in the Challenger Inn at 7 a.m. so we could get the first bus to Baldy at 8 a.m.

Photo by AnneCN vi FlickrI brought my kids to work a lot of days. My oldest son became a cameraman/director, my daughter has become a very good still camera operator and I sold my film company to my youngest son. (Of course, he resold it in 10 years and retired.)

I think too many parents do too much for their kids once they get to the mountain. They buy them their lift ticket and their lunch and give them a ride back and forth to the resort. Give me one good reason why they shouldn’t carry their own ski or snowboard gear?

Your days of skiing with your oldest son are over when Marty shows up in the predawn darkness for a ride to the local mountains with you. It is a bit scary later in the afternoon when Marty rockets by you, closely followed by your son on a rental snowboard.

There will no longer be any “wait for daddy at the bottom of the hill,” no more listening to dad’s lessons on how to keep your feet together because your son has found his freedom chasing his new best friend Marty down the hill.

Face it dad, your oldest is a lot more interested in his new best friend Marty than he is in you and his little brother and sister. Kids grow up and want different things than they used to want. But now Junior is going to have to get a job to support his habit that you supported for the first 14 years of his life.

The good side of it is that you spent all of those great times skiing together until he started to find out about girls and snowboards, in that order. You taught him everything he knew on snow and the transition will be a lot harder for you to make than it was for him to make.

I was able to teach all three of my kids how to enjoy the scenery and the freezing cold mountain air and somehow they are still skiing 50-plus years later. I just hope you can give your kids that same gift of freedom and keep them in sight on the side of a hill.