Our family doesn’t go on a lot of outings. I was feeling like my lack of get-up-and-go was holding my children back, so this year when the email about the annual family snowshoeing day came from my husband’s work, I signed us up. Snowshoeing was on my list anyway – why not make it a family thing? And then came the whining…
And that’s when I remembered why we never go anywhere. “Should we go swimming today?” “No, I hate swimming.” “Let’s go play tennis.” “I’m sick of it.” Trying to get certain children out of the house is so daunting I often give up after the first round.
I understand not wanting to snowshoe – that’s why it was on my list in the first place. I hated being dragged up the mountain for ski lessons as a kid and all my memories of cross-country skiing are just being cold and tired (and my grandpa yelling, “Your 70-year-old grandmother can ski faster than you! Aren’t you embarrassed?”). To me, snow is something to escape, preferably indoors under a pile of blankets. I never understood why anyone would choose to stay outside in the snow for longer than 20 minutes. I’m pretty sure some of my toes are still thawing out from a Saturday I spent cross-country skiing in 1984.
And getting the whole family ready to snowshoe with snow pants, hats, and matching gloves, especially since we’re not big snow lovers, was pretty tricky. Only the youngest two even own snow pants, and one of those pairs had to be patched up with black duct tape on our drive up the mountain. The rest of us just made do with jeans and sneakers.
I wasn’t very excited about the outing at first, but the more I heard my sons complain, the more I was determined to enjoy myself. And even though we practically had to use a divining rod to find any snow on the mountain and even after one child stepped on my snowshoe and sent me flying to the ground, I really loved snowshoeing. I like hiking and snowshoeing is just winter hiking, so I’m surprised it never occurred to me to try it before. The extremely mild weather didn’t hurt either. My husband and I decided we should hit the Spring clearance sales at sporting goods stores to find some of our own so we can try it again.
The only thing I didn’t love? Listening to the party poopers we brought with us. After two minutes of snowshoeing, they were asking if it was time to go home yet. I turned around and they were actually tromping in the snow WHILE CHECKING FACEBOOK ON THEIR PHONES. We weren’t even asking them to go very far or very fast, we brought plenty of snacks, and it wasn’t even cold, and they still whined the entire time.
The youngest two had a lot of fun. Our third son didn’t complain once and told us he wants to come with us if we do it again. As we were getting the snowshoes on, I asked Fritz if he was ready. He said, “Of course. This is my first time and I’m very excited!” Even though he had to stop for some breaks, he got right back to business each time I praised his efforts. But then the older two kept up their complaining and pretty soon Fritz joined in by telling us how stupid it was and how he hated every minute of it. (Could’ve fooled me.) Not only did their whining make their experience more miserable, it affected their brother’s opinion of it too.
Later that night, I thought back to several moments where I was just as much a party pooper. I can whine with the best of them and I obviously have no qualms about expressing my feelings. A few years back I had to go swimming with a youth group from church at a nearby reservoir. I don’t like sharing my swimming space with fish and I kept thinking of that line from Tarzan: “Are you sure this water’s sanitary?” The cement surrounding the water was covered in slime and climbing up the icky incline was the only way out of the reservoir. I could not touch the slime without freaking out. I just kept saying, “Ew, ew, gross!” And yes, I was 38 years old. Real mature. Great example to all the teenagers who were there.
And all those memories I have of miserable ski trips? I’m pretty sure I complained loudly the whole time. I’m probably the reason they were miserable. No wonder my grandpa lost his temper with me. I’d give anything to get to go skiing with him now that he’s gone, although I’d probably still be slower than my grandma (and she’s ninety-six now).
I guess I learned this week that this new effort to try new things with an open mind isn’t the sort of thing I can force on my kids, as much as I’d love to. I don’t think that will stop me from trying, though. My husband was a great sport, just as he has been with every new thing I’ve made him try with me for this blog, and just as he has been with every challenge we’ve faced our whole marriage.
But mostly I learned that it’s a good thing I started this blog to make myself try new things because before I did, I was a serious party pooper.