I log onto Facebook, and they're doing it. All of them. With pictures to prove it.
My friends, family members, casual acquaintances... seemingly everyone I know is doing it.
"We should do it."
"Do what?" he asks.
"Do this," I reply, tilting the monitor so my husband can see it.
He frowns. "You're out of your mind. We're not doing that."
"The kids would like it, I think."
He shakes his head. "The kids would be miserable. They'd ruin it for us."
I beg to differ. "Don't you mean you would be miserable? And ruin it for the rest of us?"
He shrugs. "Same difference. The outcome is misery. We're not doing it."
What is it everyone's doing?
Everyone is skiing. Everyone but us.
Here are 5 solid reasons you won't see my family on the slopes this winter.
1.) It's f*cking freezing.
I can handle the cold. But my kids hate extreme temperatures. They don't do well in July, and they fare equally poorly in February. They are boys, which makes them anatomically incapable of keeping a pair of gloves married for longer than 37 minutes. Back in December, I organized their winter accessories. I was left with eight gloves of all different sizes and patterns. All right-handed.
Say we take them skiing. By the time we arrive at the mountain, an hour's drive away, the four of them are already 23 minutes beyond the point of knowing where their left-handed gloves are. The cumulative complaining about their frozen left hands would put a damper on the day.
But, their father would put them to shame. He abhors the cold. Stick him on a snow-capped mountain where the temps peak at 20 degrees, and he simply cannot function.
Not without complaining more frequently than the kids, who at least have reason to complain. Since all four of them are gloveless.
2.) I'll lose one of them.
I'm in the business of crowd control. I do try to share meaningful moments with each of my kids. I'm smart enough to attempt them within the confines of my own home. Meaningful moments don't happen outside the house. Because the minute we exit the premises, I morph into someone whose behavior resembles that of a secret service agent. "I've got these two covered. You cover those two. Wait, I lost one... I LOST HIM! No, he's good. He's here. He was peeing behind the tree, but I found him. He's just pulling up his pants now. I've got two. You have two? We're good? Let's move."
Desperate to connect, the kids try to talk to me when we're out in public. I flash a phony smile, "That's wonderful, honey!" I raise my eyebrows and throw in a gasp for good measure, "Gasp! You did? I'm so proud of you!" But I'm not listening to them. I can't. I'm too busy counting them, herding them forward, reminding them to remove their hands from their penises, barking at them to stop touching one another, cut it out already with the potty talk and for the love of Pete, smile, because we are having so much fun!
If I strap skis to their feet, place them atop a mountain of ice, and yell, "Let's all stay together!" or worse, "See you at the bottom!" that will be the last moment we share as a family.
I will never be able to keep track of them.
3.) Ski poles are weapons.
I know my little guys, ages 4 and 6, would learn to ski without poles. In which case only my bigger guys would be wielding weapons. Two kids with ski poles is better than four kids with ski poles, right?
How do you expect my younger sons to defend themselves against their older brothers? Because they will indeed have to defend themselves. From poking...f rom swatting... from jousting. To equip them with ski poles is dangerous, irresponsible, and stupid.
To leave them defenseless against their armed older brothers...is just plain suicide.
So, I'd have to insist on poles for everyone. Say it with me... "brawl." We'd be lucky to disentangle them long enough to shuffle them over to the chair lift for the first run of the day. If we actually managed to get them into line, we'd have to wait our turn, which would give them time enough to poke, swat, and joust with one another in tighter confines. Unable to hear my voice over the wind, and just out of reach of my short arms, I'd be forced to use my poles to disentangle them. It's likely I'd have to do some poking, swatting and jousting of my own.
And someone would undoubtedly get hurt.
Because ski poles are weapons.
4.) I cannot run the risk of injury.
The chances of the kids getting hurt... frostbite aside... are slim. My husband is an entirely different animal. He is predisposed to injuries. Particularly in cold conditions.
We take the older two boys sledding one Friday evening. First time down the hill, my husband sleds... sober... directly into a baby tree. Breaking his collar bone. And sending son #2 into a temper tantrum for cutting his fun short. Husband wears a sling for the next several weeks. He is unable to lift the children. Unable to wash the dishes. Unable to dress himself. Unable to put on his belt. Unable to tie his shoes. He expects me to wait on him.
It's a recipe for wedded disaster.
After a very long six weeks of nursing the broken collar bone, husband finally feels ready to exercise. He dons his running gear.
Me: "You should hit the track. Take it easy. No intervals. Just get some time on your legs."
Him: "Yeah, that's probably what I'll do."
Me: "Seriously, do NOT run the trails. It's too icy. You haven't run in awhile. Make that something you work towards."
Him: "Yeah, I hear you."
Two hours later, he hobbles into the house. Jacket ripped. Hands bleeding. Bloody right hip. Ribs bruised.
Me: "Is that fake blood?"
Him: "I got problems."
Me: "Are you joking? Because pretending you're hurt again isn't funny."
Him: "I'm not joking, Bethany. I fell. I really hurt my hands. And my hip. And my ribs."
Me: "You fell on the track?"
Him: "Of course not. I fell on the trails. You were right. They were really icy."
Of course they were.
Husband decides to take two older sons and their two buddies sledding. They load up the car and drive to a local hill.
Shortly after they leave the house, I text him...
Me: "Having fun?"
Me: "Huh? Why not?"
Him: "I messed up my ribs."
Me: "Ha. Ha. Seriously, why not?"
Him: "I am serious."
Me: "Shu tup!! What happened?!"
Him: "I was at the top of the hill, holding onto my sled. I took a running start. And I tripped over my shoelace, which must have been untied. And I fell down. HARD. Right onto my fist. It hurts to breathe. I think I cracked a rib."
Me: "You're saying you attempted a running start, tripped on your own shoelace, landed on your own fist and hurt your rib?"
Him: "Yes. We may have to go to the hospital. Again."
Me: "Are you serious? Did this really happen? I am ROFLMAO at the visual."
Him: "F*ck you. It happened."
Me: "Well, I'm sorry you got hurt. Again. Good luck telling boy #2 he has to leave sledding early again so you can go to the hospital. Again. Brace yourself for a royal hissy."
Him: "No shit. You're not going to post anything about this on Facebook, are you?"
Me: "Never. I wouldn't dream of it."
To fit this injury-prone man with a pair of skis and place him on a mountain and tempt him with the thrill of achieving high speeds while racing his offspring down a steep hill is to ensure that our next stop is the hospital.
And, yes, exhibits A, B, and C are all true.
5.) I'd have to sell a kidney on the black market to be able to afford it.
Even in this fine state of Pennsylvania, where the Pocono Mountains offer free lift tickets all season for 4th and 5th grade students, it still costs a small fortune.
Boots x 6 people
+Skis x 6 people
+lift tickets x 5 people
+ lessons x 4 people
+ gear x 6 people
=Skiing is expensive.
The last time I skied, I wore mint green bib overalls, a pair of sunglasses from the Limited and a pom pom hat that my Mom wore religiously from 1970-1975. And I was on the cutting edge of mountain top fashion.
I was in Marshall's last month and tried on a pair of ski pants. Not with skiing in mind... purely to wear sledding with the kids. I broke out into a sweat merely trying to wrestle them onto my body. In what universe does a mother of four have to remove her underwear in a dressing room in order to squeeze into a pair of ski pants? Because I was in that universe. And it was disturbing. Boot cut, skinny leg, low rise ski pants? They're gonna cost me. Because it's not merely the price of the pants. It's the personal training sessions I'm going to need to reshape my body to fit into those ski pants.
Move over, Susie Chapstick, times have changed.
And evidently, so have ski pants.
Oh well. There's always next year...