It began, as these things do, with sledding at the park by our house. [Back in December 2011, when there was actual snow on the ground.] One day the professor took the older boys sledding and upon return, reported that our Gort had descended the slightly steep hill vertically. He’d essentially ‘snowboarded’ down…..upon our Little Tikes purple sled.
This was a big deal chez nous. Because the Johnson boys are not exactly daredevils. Not that standing on one’s sled and going down a hill is daredevilish, for most people, but around these parts it was the equivalent of bungee jumping. Two minutes later I was on the phone with the Canada Olympic Park, signing the Gort up for a snowboard lesson.
I’m not usually an on-the-ball type of mom. I mean, the Gort himself has been asking me to set up an eye appointment for him for nearly two years. But when I sense even a glimmer of interest in something from one of my Lego-loving boy-children, I have to carpe the moment. Before they can change their minds. And revert to being basement dwellers who spend all day staring at pieces of colored plastic.
So the appointed day arrived for the Gort’s lesson and we ventured to the ‘C-O-P’ as the locals call it. It has not escaped my attention that we’ve lived in Calgary for over three years and never visited this winter sport paradise. We’re what you might call a family of nons. Non-skiers, non-snowboarders, non-skaters. It made no sense to go to the COP for any reason besides buying very expensive mittens.
[I can now check that off the bucket list as well.]
The Gort and a nine year old boy named Bailey disappeared with an Australian instructor named Ben, and the Hen and I huddled in the ‘school house’ trying to stay warm slash interested in the whole experience.
An hour and fifteen minutes later, we had a semi-snowboarder on our hands. A semi-enthusiastic, semi-snowboarder. It was what I like to call ‘the biggest sports success of 2011’.
And then it was January and I remembered that other parents tend to sign their kids up for ‘activities’ and, save the one snowboarding lesson, the Johnson boys hadn’t actually done anything since soccer….in June. I checked the city’s recreation website and quickly came to the realization that other parents had reached similar conclusions, but in a much more timely manner.
Rock climbing? Fully booked. Hip hop classes? Fully booked. Floor hockey? Fully booked. Skating? Fully booked.
My only option, it seemed, was to sign up my cherubs for some more snowboarding. And, while I was at it, I even signed up the professor, who’d been talking about trying snowboarding ever since we moved here.
The Hen had his first lesson today. Ever since I told him – at the beginning of January – that I’d signed him up for snowboarding, he’s talked of little else. He practically bounced with excitement the entire way there. And then, as I delivered him to an instructor named Martins, it dawned on me that I’d made a terrible mistake.
‘He has snowboarded before, yes?’ The instructor with the thick accent inquired. ‘No, he’s never snowboarded before.’ ‘Oh, well, if they can skate, that really helps’.
Um, yeah, he doesn’t skate either.
After giving the small group of 3-5 year old’s a chance to get used to the board, Martins dispatched them to the conveyor belt that would convey them up the bunny slope. Minor detail: the Hen couldn’t get over to the conveyor belt. Not at all. A female instructor with wild blond hair finally took pity on him and carried him over to the ‘magic carpet’.
So much for the fairytale ‘the second my feet touched the board, I knew I’d be a snowboarder’ ending, I sighed.
Less than an hour later, I had another semi-snowboarder on my hands. A super enthusiastic, semi-snowboarder, who went up and down the slopes for an hour and a half after his lesson. ‘I want to do this forever,’ he announced to his dad.
‘I’m sooooo good,’ he reported at the end of the night, confident that he would become his generation’s Shawn White.
And tomorrow night we’ll find out if our fearless leader is good enough to be Shawn White’s...father.
I can’t wait.