Just kidding, that's not Alex!
I took Alex to Echo Mountain Ski Area for his first ski lesson today. Recognizing the hesitancy of our three-and-a-half year old to be more than four bodily inches from his mother (especially when trying anything new), we thought it would be best to enroll him in the Parent and Me intro class.
Throwing him into a frenzied group of squealing four year olds tends to put Alex into a catatonic state. His body is there, but you can almost see his mind try to push itself as far inside his head as possible. His eyes start to glaze in the midst of all of this untamed energy and the mechanism that connects his mouth and his feet to his brain temporarily shuts off. I can see the metaphoric sign dangling from his forehead, "Back in 5 minutes (or whenever these unpredictable little monsters leave the area!)"
Mommy and Me skiing was the best choice ever. Brenda, or Miss B, as she called herself, was a great teacher. At first, I tried to encourage Alex when needed, but I quickly realized that as long as the invisible tether to which I am attached in new situations didn't get longer than about 3 feet, Alex was just fine without me.
Miss B. tuned in immediately to Alex's needs. Lots of encouragement, lots of fun and the ability to drown out the amazing amount of stimulus that surrounded us. At one point, she bent down, grabbed Alex's cheeks gently and said,
"Alex, I know there are a lot of other kids here today, but all you have to do is concentrate on my face."
She turned his head, he focused on her eyes, smiled and skiied down the bunnyhill. I wanted to hug Miss B. and pat her on the back for her insight. This 20-something with the tie-dyed hat and Japanese-anime covered skis actually got my kid!
And Alex had the time of his life. At first, there were a lot of nervous laughs and, "I can't"s. But Miss B. wouldn't hear of it.
"Don't tell me you can't. You just did! And now let's go do it again!"
By the end of the hour, my little man was skiing down the bunnyhill entirely on his own. Even after the lesson was over, he kept asking to ride the Magic Carpet up just one more time, and just one more time again, so that he could ski back down. He can't wait to go again next weekend. What a great introduction to the sport!