••• Friday, February 22, 2008

Be Not Afrait in 2008 

And Yes.This Is It.
The first installment of The New Years Intendment post. Just in time for the Ides of February, give or take a week or so.

No harm done really. For the year, she is still young.

Me? Not so much with the young. In fact, this is the year I turn 50 years old, which has been the issue at the heart of my reluctance to think about write this post. It is has been the stopper in my flow hole, if you will.

Before I get to Intendment Number 1, ::which is the only Intendment I'll be sharing today.:: I need to lay a foundation of thought and inspiration.

So grab your shovels...

It's Downhill From Here

For the past couple of years, on New Years Eve Day, Cabana has taken Cakers skiing at the resort near the cottage. In years past, while Cakers enjoyed a morning of professional instruction, hot cocoa and playtime at the child care center, Cabana enjoyed a few hours of lone shredding. ::And I really enjoyed a morning alone at the cottage.::

This past New Years, a new plan was hatched, in that there would be no ski school for Cakers. Instead, Daddy was going to show her the ropes. ::This would be a great play on words, but the infamous rope tow has been replaced by a magic carpet escalator thingie.::

Included in this plan was the POSSIBILITY of Cakers going on her first chair lift ride.

Sidebar: Cakers is six years-old and I realize that Real Skiing Families (fanatics, if you will) expose their children to the chair lift much younger than that. We are not one of those families. We get on the slopes about twice a year, so this was a big deal to us.


The night before the big day we went for a sleigh ride at the resort, and happened to park near an operating chair lift. Once out of the car, Cakers stopped to watch the chair lift process.

After watching in silence for a few minutes, she shared her observations as follows:

I see how it works! It slows down so you can get on, then it goes faster when it goes up the hill.

If you almost fall, the man will help you.

It works like a big cat scoop, except it scoops people, not poop.

I just saw a grown-up fall down and then get up. Even grown-ups fall down. And that’s okay. Right, mom?

All along it was made clear to her, by both of us, that she did not have to go on the chair lift unless she wanted to. There would be no pressure here, only free will.

For the rest of that night Cakers was clearly preoccupied with thoughts of the following day. I knew this because she stopped talking about skiing and chair lifts altogether, and chatted non-stop about any and everything else under the moon. By the time she went to bed that night she could hardly sit still, and every few minutes busted into random song. ::This is a common strategy used by children, to distract themselves from scary thoughts. I do it myself, at times.::

Before leaving for the slopes the following morning, she sat on the living room, surrounded by a posse of stuffed animals.

I did not attend this excursion, but waited anxiously all morning for an update. Because Cakers’ plan for the day included hourly breaks for hot chocolate, I expected the first call at around 10:00. But no call came.

Neither at 11:00.

Or 12:00.

By then, I was getting really nervous. ::It's like a part time job, this nervous. And I'll be the first to admit that the pay sucks. And there are no benefits.::

At 1:00 Cabana called to say they were in the car and heading my way. Of course,he also relayed to me the day's events, and they went something like this:

After 2 runs down the bunny hill, Cakers slid over to the edge of the bunny area to watch the chair lift operation, on the slope next door. After a minute or two of silent consideration, she looked at her father and said “I’m ready.”

After that first swoop of the poop scoop, there was no turning back. Neither were there any hourly breaks for hot chocolate.

And after 5 hours of nearly non-stop poop scooping and skiing, she didn’t want to leave.

So what has this to do with my Intendments for 2008?

Quite a bit.

You see, I've always been a bit of a fraidy cat.*
A Nervous Nelly, if you will.

As a Fraidy Cat, I tend to avoid a gamut of perceived, uncomfortable situations, ranging from the ridiculously benign to the clearly stressful. Examples of said situations include making phone calls, meeting new people, trying new things, asking questions, and going to the dentist. ::I think my dentist office has an ongoing betting pool on when I will call to cancel my next cleaning.::

When I'm fretting, I don't sit in the corner and chew on my the sole of my shoe. Outwardly, I seldom appear alarmed or agitated when working under frets.

Usually the fret starts off as a mild discomfort, which grows into a slightly bigger nag of possible complications, which often leads into things that can go sort of wrong, then on to things that will likely cause death or at least serious embarassment. At any point along the continuum, I can, and often do, determine that it will be much easier to just stay home and knit.

Then along comes Cakers.

Clearly she was frightened of going on the chair lift. As she well she should be.
But she really wanted to ski on the big hills.
But before she could do that, she had to do a scary thing.
And before she could do the scary thing, she had to face it.

Which she did.
On her own terms.

First she thought about it.
Then she watched it.
Then she pictured herself doing it.
Then she thought about it some more.

Was she still scared after all that?
You bet, she was.
But she did it anyway.
And found it to be well worth it.

Then and there I decided that I want to be like my daughter, when I grow up.

And hereby decree 2008 to be The Year of I’ll Have What She’s Having.

Intendment No 1:
Go skiing with my family.

Skiing is a perfect example of an event over which I can easily work into a lather of fret, especially if I haven't gone in awhile. On the smallish end of the fret scale are worries related to anticipated discomfort, inconvenience or confusion. On the bigger end we'll find frets of falling down getting on the chair lift, falling down getting off the chair lift, falling out of the chair while it is lifting and running by brains into a tree, a la Sonny Bono.

But this week Monday I set aside my frets to join my family on the slopes. And despite the discomforts, inconveniences and the falling down while exiting the chair lift and my daughter hearing me yell to the bong-watered attendant, “Turn this fucker off!!", as yet another empty chair in a series swept over my head, while several feet away, my husband says “Just get up.” “Can’t you get up?” “Why don’t you just get up?” as though I was actually enjoyed being all a splay, directly in the path of the human depository of the busiest chair lift at the resort.

And there was that other time, while disembarking, when I so very much tried to concentrate on keeping my skis straight and poles out, but then very much started to slip, and in a frenzied attempt to stay upright, bopped my daughter in the side of the head with my ski pole, prompting the best quote of the day from Cakers: "Good thing I’m wearing a helmet. And goggles.”

So that’s the first installment of Intendments: 2008.
I promise the rest will be much less painful.

In the meantime...Where'd My Baby Go?

*I do have an understanding as to why this is so. While part of it is genetics, much of it stems from the childhood onset of a series of shitty-ass things that happened to me.** Those are stories for a different time. Or a book. To be released after I die. Because I’m a fraidy cat, like that. ::

**On a paradoxical note, working through these life altering events, I have also developed a profound sense of survivorship and consider myself very brave in ways I may never be able to share with you here. ::

hi marsha I'm debbie from by port huron michigan. I and my 3 brothers have skied since we were 5- YES_on a chairlift. you will grow to love it. There is nothing in the world like going up a chairlift on a beautiful sunny day. I have medical issues now and I can't ski and that is the one thing I really want to do. GO FOR IT!!!!!!
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