Kudos to my kid

I had been dreading the yearly school skiing trip ever since I checked the weather forecast and saw it was going to rain a couple of days before the trip and then the temperature was going to drop below zero degrees centigrades. This meant icy conditions. This surely meant me being on my bum (or worse) quite often.

Every year, in February, before the Winter break, we take our middle school students on a skiing trip. Every year, we go to the same place, and students get two options: downhill or cross country. I am in the cross-country group. It is usually a very pleasant trip except for the last two kilometers which are only downhill. During the 23 years I’ve been living in Norway, I have been trying to improve my skiing skills, and I am much better than when I started, but I still dread steep downhills, especially when it is icy.

I KNEW it was going to be icy this year, and I had two fears: 1) to fall and hurt myself or break a bone 2) to be so afraid of my own downhill that I was going to be unable to help the students who aren’t very experienced in skiing. Every year, we have students who either have never skied before, or ski only on the yearly Ski Day. In that order. I know, I should be ashamed of myself, but that’s how it is.

A couple of days before the trip, I made an agreement with myself, to go with the flow. Stop dreading how it was going to be, and solve the possible challenges once there, in front of the steep downhill. Worst case scenario, I could take my skis off and walk the last two kilometers.

Usually, we get to the last part of the trip quite fast and give students two options, to go downhill and meet the rest of the school at the Alpine skiing center, or go for an extra loop with some of the teachers. I like skiing so much that I usually join the extra loop. Oftentimes, all students choose to go back to their peers together with a couple of teachers, so some teachers end up in a solo trip for about an hour or so.

This year, one of my colleagues suggested she and I do the extra loop and then just take our skis off and walk the hill down. I was so grateful for her suggestion, but when we got back to the crossing where we had to go downhill, she changed her mind and suggested that we try skiing down through the forest (!!!). She must have seen the surprise in my face because she smiled and said it is often better when it is so icy on the tracks. She seemed so confident, and I know she does this quite a lot with her family, that I decided to give it a try. It wasn’t easy, but boy it was fun! It wasn’t that hard either. We used more time than we thought, but we got back on time to help the other teachers organise the students to get the bus back to school.

Being such a cautious person usually (to not say a wuss), I was so excited when we finally got back. Thanks to my colleague, who by the way, I think is super cool, I got myself out of my comfort zone, and experienced something new. At some points, we did have to take the skis off because there were patches of bare forest, or because there were too many trees. We also fell – me more than my colleague, but that was fine too.

I kept thinking. on the bus ride back something that I have been thinking about lately. Why is it that I always want things to go “smoothly”? Why do I always dread challenges? Isn’t life more fun when we get to learn something new? When we use our problem-solving skills? I am trying to change my mindset in this regard, and I am also trying to apply this in my parenting as my kids grow older. I am trying to transfer this to them.

Today, our youngest daughter (13) took the train alone for the first time. All the way from Trondheim to a place called Porsgrunn in the south of Norway. The whole trip takes nine hours. She had to change trains in Oslo. Instead of hoping for the trip to go problem-free, I hoped she would encounter challenges with a problem-solving attitude- which by the way I know she usually has. Of course, I prayed for safe travels, but I hoped more for her to be able to tap into her own strength. And guess what? Challenges did come. Her train to Oslo was delayed and she lost her train to Porsgrunn, but she managed to find the ticket office and was directed to the next train. She called me a bit stressed but happy from the train track and texted me from the train. I think this is a very good experience for her because she realized she can do this.

In the last year and a half, she has been challenged. She has experienced challenging friendships, her best friend of years made new friends, and she changed schools. Past the immediate distress and sadness, I have seen her grow, and I see her become more confident. I believe that partly unconsciously, she knows she can deal with challenges.

I am being more aware of what I say to her when she experiences a challenge now. I always tell her, you can do this. You have the skills, and you know we support you.

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