Oh lordy, but you knew this was coming, right? The Herd couldn’t go on a ski trip, even for one day, without having something to report, right? Sigh….heavy sigh….
We all woke up well before we needed. I’m pretty sure Spouse rolled out of bed about 3:30am, which means I was awake not long afterwards what with all the lights going on and off in the hallway, the bathroom, and his closet. Lord be. In defiance, I lay there another hour. As departure time was getting closer, I finally hauled my carcass out of bed to the shower. We hit the road a mere 15 minutes behind schedule, which is saying a lot for having to get five people out the door an hour before the sun even thinks about coming up. We made it to the resort, parked, and were second in line to pick up our lift tickets within two hours. We were on the hill 15 minutes after the lifts started. But let me rewind a little bit….
Little Man HATES lines. He detests them. Most of his freak outs happen when he has to stand in line for more than 30 seconds. We had prepped him that lines would be involved. But I was mentally pulling up the boot straps as we walked into the equipment rental building. Last time we did this, it took nearly an hour to get the waiver signed, and pick up boots, skis, and poles, and get a locker. We whizzed through in 15 minutes. Can I get an Amen???!!! We met back up with Big Man and the Princess (they’re snow boarders and their equipment was downstairs from the ski equipment), traded shoes for boots, shoved all the excess into our locker, and headed towards the bunny hill lift.
At the bottom of the bunny hill, we stopped to strap on equipment. That is such a process! Little Man started to get frustrated. He could get one ski on, but then struggled with the other. I could hear him start to growl. Spouse came over to help. Then we wisely decided to get closer to the end of the line – which was about 20 yards away – before actually putting both skis on. Up we go, towards the end of the lift line. And then it really began….Ten minutes of struggling, Little Man dropping to the ground a few times, some yelling, much gritting of teeth, him facing backwards, sideways, and nearly upside-down…..We finally got him on the skis, and in line. Whew, right? Yeah, not so much.
It was our turn to slide down the small ramp to get onto the chair lift. Halfway down, I don’t even know what happened, but his skis crossed, one ski came off, one leg went sideways, and he dropped to the ground, tears flowing. And yes, they had to stop the lift. Spouse was trying to pull him up. There wasn’t really anything I could do but grab his poles. The attendant came over to help. Skis back on, poles in hand, all three of us standing, the chair came behind us, and we sat down for the ride up the mountain. We all breathed…..until we got to the top, and the entire episode repeated. I kid you not. His skis crossed, one popped off, one leg went wonky sideways, poles shot out, and he hit the ground, crying. They had to stop the ski lift again.
We somehow got him over to the benches the boarders use to hook in. He was crying, and he was yelling. I was trying to calm him. Spouse was trying to help him and stay patient at the same time. We started down the hill, and the same damn thing happened all over again. Skis went sideways, one fell off, his other leg went out, poles flew, and he was in a heap, on the side of the mountain, tears flowing, angry words flying. He was completely frustrated, sad, angry, upset. Full meltdown mode.
Spouse sent me on ahead. I’ve mentioned skiing isn’t really my gig, right? It took me fifteen minutes to get down the bunny slope. I looked back up from the bottom, but Spouse and Little Man were nowhere in sight. I waited, and waited, and waited. Nothing. I finally found Big Man and Princess. They said Spouse and Little Man were still up there, with Little Man losing it completely. After about an hour, I finally went back up, and found them when I was almost back to the bottom. It had taken Spouse 90 minutes to get Little Man down that hill 1 1/2 times. It. Was. Brutal. I was saying all the bad words to autism right then and there. There were all those looks from people around us. I’m sure they were wondering why we would bring our kid skiing if this were going to happen. Trust me, I was pretty much wondering the same thing.
At the bottom of the hill, he was exhausted and hungry. We decided to eat, and then re-evaluate. Food usually helps, but even after inhaling a big hamburger and chips, he said he was done. He’d made it as long as I’d kind of expected, although I’d also expected a half day would involve more than 1.5 runs down the bunny hill.
Spouse took Big Man and the Princess back out for some runs down the Intermediate slopes. Little Man and I changed back to our regular shoes, turned in our equipment, stopped by the car to grab some technology, and hit the lodge. He had a soda. I had a beer.
Some might think the day was a total fail. It was miserable at points, embarrassing at others, beyond frustrating much of time, particularly for Spouse. But you know what, he did it. It didn’t look like other eleven-year-olds would skiing, but he did it. It was hard. But he did it. I posted on my personal FB to a friend this: “The good news is, he did it. Twice. It was ugly. There were a few bad words said, and LOTS of those looks. But he did it, and it pushes his window a bit wider, even if he never does it again.” And ain’t that the truth? Every time he does something that’s hard and uncomfortable and challenging, we may end up with tears and lots of yelling, but it pushes him outside of his comfortable box. He learns. It builds his confidence in his own ability to do things he’s not sure he’s capable of.
We did decide the next time we go, he will take a lesson. He’s had lessons twice before, but we just feel it will start things off better if he goes at it slowly rather than, “Here’s your skis, here are your poles, slap them on, and let’s go” the way we did it Saturday. I’m sure they have instructors up there who know how to deal with autistic kids. It’s too prevalent anymore to not have an experienced instructor.
He did it. We all survived. We survived Herd-style, but we survived.