The ice-skating debut

Northstar-Village-Ice-Skating

Skating at Northstar (not my kids)

They were so excited to go ice-skating, I wasn’t about to stand in the way. And so, on our first full day of our annual trip to Tahoe this weekend, I waltzed L and R into the skate rental shop at the Village at Northstar and got us our skates.

“What’s it like, Daddy?” L asked.

“Are we gonna fall?” R followed-up, not even giving me a chance to respond to her sister’s query.

“It’s…fun,” I said, trying to be as convincing as possible. “We’ll take it slowly and I’m sure you girls are gonna love it.”

Before you start thinking about what a great dad I am, know this: I abhor ice skating, much like I despise a great many other winter sports. I don’t like the way the shoes feel on my feet, I can’t ever skate for more than three or four sweeps of my feet before I fall on my ass, and I’m SUPER neurotic about any sport during which I can fall and break my wrist and impact my life as a writer. There are an infinite number of things I’d rather do than ice-skate.

Yet there I was, wobbling my way over to the rink, desperately trying not to fall while I held the girls’ hands and tried to keep them from falling as well.

When we got to the entrance, a bunch of drunk dudes clapped to commemorate my successful walk from the bench where we laced up. The girls turned around and smiled. I was mortified but my kids had no clue. They were loving every minute of it.

Our “session” began with both girls trying to skate out into the middle of the rink—and both girls falling squarely on their butts in a matter of seconds. Neither got frustrated, but both looked to me for guidance. So I did what any other self-respecting parent would do in that situation: I encouraged them to “get comfortable” by holding on to the railing while they “skated” around the perimeter of the rink.

Around the rink we went, one-half skating, one-half walking. Every few panels of glass, one of the girls would slip and fall on the ice with a thud. Every time, the fallen child resumed the position of the afternoon and continued unabashedly.

When we finished our first lap, I asked the kids if they’d had enough. “NO!” they both shouted.

When we finished our second lap, I asked them again if they’d had enough. “No way Daddy!” they shouted.

When we finished our third lap, before I could even ask the girls how they were feeling, they both turned around and told me we were going to continue.

Mercifully, however, it was Zamboni time. Workers rushed onto the ice and guided everybody off. The girls and I followed suit. When we made it safely outside of the rink, Powerwoman convinced the kids to put their boots back on. Miraculously, we had survived, and nobody had chipped a tooth.

To say I was relieved by the sudden change in plans would be an understatement. But the girls were genuinely bummed. Even though they never really got the hang of ice-skating, the kids loved it. Even though I wasn’t much of an instructor in the rink, they were thankful and appreciative of the time I spent with them inside.

The whole experience was a lesson in opening the mind. The kids didn’t care that they didn’t “succeed” at this new sport. They had fun trying. They felt awesome doing it. And that was enough.

Moving forward, perhaps it can be enough for me, too.

Soaking Up the Holiday Spirit

Little R, mesmerized by a window display at Selfie's.

Little R, mesmerized by a window display at Selfie’s.

You don’t need much of a sightseeing itinerary when traveling during holiday season; all you need is time to explore.

I’ve been reminded of this simple fact numerous times over the last week or so here in London. Every time I head into the city for a day of big plans with L and R, we are sidetracked by a bunch of decorations.

One day, we spent two hours watching a carousel in front of the Natural History Museum. Another day, we spent 75 minutes admiring the windows in front of Selfridges. Today, little R and I counted giant ornaments in St. Christopher’s Place (which, by the way, has the best shopping in the West End). I’ve already blogged about some of the fun we had with my folks at a decked-out Covent Garden Market.

Later this week, our plan includes dragging Grandma and Grandpa with us to South Kensington to marvel at decorations at Harrods and Harvey Nichols.

Throw in ice-skating rinks, Christmas trees, caroling extravaganzas and holiday lights pretty much anywhere around the city and I’d say we’ve got enough to keep us busy from now until we head home Dec. 23.

Oh, and unless we ride the carousels or do the ice skating, all of the stuff is free.

The lesson here, of course, is that especially when kids are young, it doesn’t take much to create a fun day of experiencing a new place during the holidays. I like to think the equation looks like this:

Spectacle + Snacks + Public Transit + Downtime (when necessary) = Smiles

I know this equation isn’t universal. And I’ve been doing this family travel thing too long to know that this equation isn’t going to work all the time. But with the right weather and the right attitude (and the right snacks, I guess, and no public transport delays), it sure puts family travelers in a good position for a day that everyone will remember for all the right reasons. And it hasn’t failed us Villanos yet.

What is your equation for a good family travel when traveling during the holidays?

%d bloggers like this: