Well before Island Boy’s arrival, there was the dream.

The dream involved a small Haitian boy on skis with the rest of his family.

The first draft of the dream involved a lime green ski suit.  That version did not come to fruition as the child was not yet ready to meet the slopes.

This year’s ski suit is navy blue.  On Tuesday, we decided to try it out.

Before embarking, The Major planned this operation down to infinitesimal detail.  The pork roast was seasoned and placed in the crock pot the evening before.  The skis, boots and other accessories were loaded into the family SUV before the Kay Nouers hit the racks for the night.  We made arrangement to pick up a loaned “racer chaser” for IB from a good friend.

The morning of the big day, all went as planned.  The warm crock was secured in the back of the vehicle with ski gear.  All personnel were buckled in and the ride down to E-Ville was smooth as smooth could be.

Mama and Island Boy were dropped off in time for the start of “ski school.”  The Major hovered and circled the 5-minute lot before eventually scoring a hard-fought parking space.  The Fashionista and Subway Dude executed perfect tuck-and-roll maneuvers and efficiently unloaded the gear in front of the base lodge.  The Major roared off to park.

He returned on foot 10 minutes later.  The shuttle back from the parking lot was too slow for him.  SD and TF observed him jogging down the hill from level two of the parking lot.  They openly took bets on whether Papa would dump it on the slushy ramp.  To their great disappointment, the old man proved to be still nimble of foot.

Lift tickets purchased.  Crock pot plugged in in the family room.  Mama returned senza bambino (without child, y’all).

Two hours of blessed skiing ensued.  The four of us schussed and ski-lifted and schussed and ski-lifted, etc. without a care in the world.

Except that’s not what happened.  Mama and Papa snuck back between every run hoping to catch a glimpse of their little boy having the time of his life on skis.

We couldn’t find him.  There were many ski classes going on at once.  Island Boy was learning to put on his boots and hop into his skis elsewhere.

Finally, near the end of ski school, we spotted him.  He was breaking away from his instructor, hoping to have a little fun in a group of slightly older skiers.  Except…he had ditched his little skis.

This boy needs Ski Reform School

His instructor successfully corralled him and returned our hero to the herd.

When classes ended, the teacher informed us that Island Boy had done very well.  However, he refused to learn how to stop.

Back in the day, it was called snowplowing — the act of pushing your heels out and pointing your ski tips together while putting weight on the arches of your feet.  This slows you and eventually stops you.  Nowadays, they call it “the wedge” or simply “pizza” in view of its resemblance to a slice of cheesy delight.

We soon learned that Island Boy had his own plans for stopping.  Instead of snowplowing, IB would head straight downhill and then start to cry.

I haven’t tried this method myself, so I can’t vouch for its efficacy.  But, it didn’t seem to be as effective as the conventional means of stopping.

A few good cries later, we determined that it was time for lunch.

In the family room, the smell when we lifted the lid off the crock pot was heavenly.  People already tend to stare at our family as we defy convention by appearance alone.  On this occasion, the looks were freighted with raw envy.

With a few slashes of a fork, the roast was converted to pulled pork.  The meat was given a fine home on hard rolls while the broth was lovingly ladled over the top to produce a most desirable meal.  Extra barbecue sauce and pickles were available for those who favored such condiments.

After a sandwich (or two), fruit and some leftover Xmas cookies, we waddled back onto our skis.  Mama graciously volunteered to squire young Island Boy in his quest for the perfect cry.  The teenagers and Papa took off in the opposite direction as fast as we could ski.

The three of us had a wonderful set of runs on several different hills.  The snow was perfect.  The 24-degree temp was ideal.

When we checked back on Mama and the Haitian Jean-Claude Killy, Running Girl was edging her way up a small slope with her skis side-to-side, perpendicular to the grain.  She was towing IB up the hill by means of her extended ski pole.

“Utterly ridiculous,” cried The Major.

“Go away,” warned Running Girl.

The three of us set off again.

The thing is, all three of us have our quirks.  Subway Dude likes to ski through thickly-wooded glades despite parental warnings, and he inevitably fails to meets us at the appointed spot at the bottom of the hills.  The Fashionista gets cold easily and has an unquenchable thirst for steamy cups of hot chocolate.  The Major wants to continue skiing until he is forcefully ejected from the resort and has little patience for those who do not.

We all do the best we can to put up with each other.  However, toward 3:30 or so, familial ties were starting to strain.

When The Major and The Fashionista were waiting at the bottom of the hill for over 10 minutes, they began to worry about Subway Dude.  This time, they reasoned, he had really done it.  Teenager, meet tree.

Finally, The Major’s cell phone rang.  It was Subway.  He was walking down the hill.  He was carrying his equipment.  He claimed that the binding of his right ski simply fell apart at the top of the run.

Despite the dubiousness of this assertion, The Major reasoned that it could happen to anybody.  As we were high up on the mountain, several lodges above the ski shop, we would take a shuttle down to base to have the offending ski binding repaired.

While waiting for the ski shuttle to arrive, The Major observed Subway Dude casually tossing his binding into the air and catching it.  He repeated this trick a few times.  At the precise moment when The Major was about to put a stop to this fun, Subway missed a catch.  The binding crashed to Earth.  Its component parts were spread out on display for all to observe with open mouths.

The Major looked at his 16-year old son.  The only intelligent parental utterance he could manage was: REALLY?!?

Like that, a fixable problem became a pile of junk.  Subway Dude hung his teenage head in shame.

The shuttle arrived.  We went down the hill.  The boys in the repair shop looked at the disassembled pieces and shook their heads.

“Load up,” commanded The Major.  “We’re going home.”

Ever prone to overreaction, The Major despotically proclaimed, “This is the last family ski outing!  The February trip is off!”

A silent journey home.

Mama’s attempts to share her joyful news over Island Boy’s progress on the slopes was greeted with sullen despair.

Upon arrival at Kay Nou.  The unpacking began.  There was no joy in Mudville.

Running Girl took The Major aside for a little chat.  She gently convinced him that the day had not been a total failure.  In fact, it was rather a success.

Island Boy had become comfortable with his equipment, with his surroundings and with the concept of downhill skiing.  Mama had even coaxed him into taking a ride on the lift.  Snowplowing will come another day.

Running Girl then convinced The Major that he needed to go out and ski some more with this buddies that night.

In her way, she edged up the hill while towing The Major at the end of her ski pole.

Running Girl is a wonder.  She really is.

The next afternoon, The Major took a ride back down to ski country.  He stopped off at the lodge and made reservations for the February ski trip.  He called home and shared this news.

Oh, and he may have done a little more skiing while down there.

— The Major


8 responses to this post.

  1. For the record, I had PB&J for lunch.



  2. In case you were wondering, the title, “Bipolar”, does not refer to a medical condition. Rather, it applies literally and figuratively to the “ski poles” that Running Girl uses to care for her alpha males, Island Boy and The Major.



  3. Posted by Betsy Thomas on December 31, 2010 at 9:28 am

    What a great story – very well-written Major!!!!
    Running Girl – what a trooper – the mom – always the peacemaker. That’s our job, am I right ladies???
    And then there are the teenagers – ah the teenagers!! They’re so predictable and yet they never cease to amaze us. All you can say is that the payback will come someday when they become parents. What a huge step for Island Boy to start to learn how to ski – that must have made it all worth it. Way to go Kay Nou!!!!!


  4. Posted by Eden on January 1, 2011 at 9:08 am

    LOVED it! Glad to see the pictures and a happy ending for all!


  5. Posted by Gail on January 1, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    Love the title and implication of “Bipolar”. You have a gift, Major. Your ability to recall the day with humor and your insight of the human psyche is priceless. And your appreciation for Running Girl’s strength through all of it endears you to every woman who has been a mother and wife.

    May the year 2011 be a blessed one for you and the entire family.


    • Thank you, Gail.
      Life doesn’t always make sense to me right away. I usually have to think about it for a while.
      Turning pain to humor takes work. But, it usually heals.

      — The Major


  6. Posted by Megan Distaso on January 5, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    I am not one to comment on blogs (just lazy), but I must tell you how much I love reading Kay Nou. It often has me laughing out loud!!! I can totally picture you guys doing and saying all of these things. And it definitely reminds me of our family on any ski day or trip we have been on!!! Justin told us on one of our trips “YOU PEOPLE are terrible to travel with!” (By the way … we really are not THAT bad!!!) Anyway … just wanted to let you know I love the stories! 🙂


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