When I was growing up, my best friend lived right across the street from me. We did everything together from the time she rolled out of bed at noon until our parents made us come home at sunset. We had a ton of freedom to do basically whatever we fancied. We rode bikes all over town and in the woods, played Barbies on the front lawn, and basically hid from all of the other younger kids on our block. So many of my childhood memories involve her… including the first time I went snow skiing.
Her parents owned a local ski shop and she and her younger brother began skiing when they were babies. They went skiing all of the time. I think the first time I went with them I was about nine years old. I suited up and hit the slopes. No matter that she took me to a (double?) diamond on my very first run. Fortunately, I was a kid and made of rubber and I totally dug the speed from racing down a mountain, all tuck-and-go. In my head-to-toe matching yellow hat, pants, bibs combo, I effortlessly earned the nickname “Runaway Banana.”
My family soon got in on the skiing vacations as well. Actually, it seemed like our whole town did. And we skied A LOT. We took tons of day trips to local areas that were fun, but my favorite ski vacations were the ones where we got to ski day after day after day. They even instituted a week off of school in February, called it “Winter Vacation” and most everybody traveled north. We went a few times a year to Pico Mountain in Killington, Vermont, to swoosh down Charlie’s Highway, the Lower and Upper Pikes, Bushwacker, Forty-Niner, Upper and Lower Giant Killers, and even A and B slopes when they were occasionally open.
And, again, our parents gave us the freedom to ski wherever we wanted, together as kids. But instead of meeting back home when the sun went down, we just met them at the Lodge for happy hour after the lifts closed.
Now, Pico Mountain is not a ginormous ski resort. It was also the 1980’s and kids could still do the unaccompanied roaming thing without much worry. It also didn’t hurt that most every person on the mountain also came from my hometown, so we all kind of knew each other up there. Nevertheless, even when we were “on our own,” we would occasionally run into a parent here and there.
I have learned as a parent myself that there are many taboo topics that other parents don’t necessarily tell you all about, mainly because they are so horrible that you just might opt out of the whole parenthood gig if you were forewarned of their atrociousness (things like the unimaginable quantities of poop, puke, lack of sleep, all-consuming fear of total responsibility for the life of another human being… and those are just a few that jump to mind regarding babies). But there are also upsides to parenthood that you might not necessarily consider either. One of those is certainly the joy you can get from the embarrassment of your children in public, mostly as payback for crap they did as babies and/ or toddlers, but also for just being kids. Looking back, my dad was totally in on that secret.
So there I was, racing down Pico Mountain, cutting tight left and right, skis all parallel like I was one of the Mahre twins (at least in my mind I was), and then I would inevitably hear him singing down from above…
Yes, I cringed. Yes, I pretended I didn’t know him. Yes, I skied away as fast as I could. But it secretly made me so happy that my dad would put himself out there (he is a horrible, and LOUD singer) to express his love-slash-retribution like that. To this day, I smile with such joy every time I see a chairlift.
On this Father’s Day, I want to tell my dad just how much I love him right back…I love you truly, I do! Oh, Daddy, I LOVE YOU!
Happy Father’s Day to all of the embarrassing dads out there. xo
Wish me luck for tomorrow…