My family likes to ski. It’s how we enjoy the winter and get our exercise. Everyone has learned to ski quite well… except my youngest.
I have been trying to teach her to ski since she was three (two winters ago). At first, she wasn’t very good because she lacked stamina. Her tiny muscles weren’t up to the job of powering her down the bunny hill more than a few times. When I could get her to ski, I spent most of the time skiing with her between my skis. But even then, she would quickly get tired and her legs would act like wet noodles.
This year she started school, so her endurance and strength have greatly improved. When the ski season started, I took her to the bunny hill. She did a fantastic job and after a few days she began to get bored, so I decided to let her try a longer run.
We took the chairlift up and began to ski down. As soon as she got on the run, she froze. She noticed the edge of the mountain, and was terrified of accidentally skiing off (what appeared to be) a snowy cliff. I helped her down the run a little ways, and then let her ski on her own again.
Once again, her fear overcame her. This time, instead of stopping, she decided to ski with mittens over her eyes. She figured that if she couldn’t see the edge of the mountain, maybe she wouldn’t be afraid. Of course, this method was quite flawed, due to her lack of control and the actual danger of going off the edge.
So, I decided to help her face her fear.
I put her, with her tiny skis, between my long skis, and took her right up to the edge. She gripped my legs and begged me not to get too close. Once we got to the edge, I asked her what she saw.
“Lot’s of snow,” she answered, as she looked down the snow covered hillside. So I asked her what she thought it might feel like to ski over the edge and land in all of that snow.
“Like landing in pillows,” she responded with a smile.
And suddenly her fear was gone.
She took off down the mountain singing as she skied. As soon as we reached the bottom of the run, she headed directly to the chairlift, to do it all over again.
The second time on the run, she headed straight for the edge. I quickly caught up to her and asked her what she was doing. She looked up at me with sweet and courageous eyes and said,
“It’s not scary!”
And that was all it took. She faced her fear and owned it.