Our school offers a five-week learn-to-ski program in partnership with a local ski hill. When the paperwork came home a few months ago Eve said “thanks, but no thanks” and threw it in the recycling bin. However, the final day that forms were due she decided to join (several friends are also doing it), filled out the paperwork herself, and delivered it all to the office on her own. The school says it’s available at a discounted rate, but oh boy, it is still expensive! Especially since we had to rent everything.
Last week my boss emails me and says, “Since Eve is skiing… would you have any interest in volunteering on the slopes with them?” I double checked Volunteerspot, where the PTO posts volunteer listings, and saw that no parents had signed up! I asked Eve if she was ok with me being there (I like to check first with her), she said “yes, definitely!”, so I agreed.
Yesterday was the first day. Mass chaos (on our end AND the ski “resorts” end)! Eventually everyone ended up where they were supposed to be, fully equipped, and ready to ski. Two parents and several teachers ended up going, so we had enough adults to get the job done. Finally we were in our groups and off, learning to ski! I was with the beginner group because 1) that’s where they needed help and 2) that’s about my level these days! :) I spent most of the time picking kids up off the ground! Lots of them fell, some of them cried, but they all got back up and tried again… except mine. She was doing ok until she fell, then she fell apart. Tears streaming down her face. I got her back on her feet but she cried so hard, telling me her ankle hurt and her leg hurt. I mostly thought it was drama, but it is possible to hurt yourself in ski boots so I finally relented and let her go inside, hoping she would regroup and come back. I told her to check in with the parents in there, have them take a look at her ankle and leg, then come back. She never did. Later in the lesson I texted a parent inside asking if she could send Eve back out, but nope. Another teacher went in and later told me she had tried to encourage Eve to come back out but was shocked when Eve barked at her (not literally!) She told me she’d never seen Eve so angry before.
By the end of the lesson all of the kids were making it up and down the tiny hill and some of them could even stop themselves at the bottom. When I got everyone situated and made my way back to Eve I found her friends with her, consoling and encouraging her. It was sweet. One friend told me privately, “I feel bad for Eve, but I kind of want to tell her to just do it! Get back out there and try again!” I said “YES, please tell her that!”
At home that night Eve and I had a chat about quitting and why it isn’t an option. We talked (again!) about the importance of trying again, and how everything is hard in the beginning, and how everyone has things that come easily to them and things they have to work at, and how I paid a ton of money for this program and she’s not allowed to quit after ten minutes, and about how I’m volunteering and she’s not allowed to quit at all. Notice how I start off empathetic and compassionate, but by the end it’s down to the cold, hard facts?! :) We’ve been down this road before.
Eve was angry and sad and frustrated. I hope she is willing to put those skis back on next week though and give it a try again. It will be even harder next time because the rest of the group has a whole lesson under their belts and she is still starting from scratch. Sigh. This is why I hate volunteering for things! :)