Sharing the outdoors with my two daughters has been an incredible experience. Watching them truly enjoy participating in the activities is even more rewarding. But… the other day I experienced a parenting first while snowboarding with my 3 year old. This first was not one of those heartwarming wonderful parenting moments. It was one of those more challenging parenting moments. It was one of those moments that you hope you get right and don’t mess up.

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My daughter got hurt while snowboarding. She had fallen many times before but this time she hurt her tummy and tears streamed down her face. It quickly became clear it was not just a simple little bonk that she would easily bounce back from. Instead she was hurt enough that I started to notice a fear creeping over her face. She looked nervous and scared to continue snowboarding as she looked at me and told me she no longer wanted to snowboard. Her bottom lip was sticking out and while she looked completely adorable my heart sank and I worried that I had ruined any chance of her enjoying snowboarding.

I asked her a few more times whether she wanted to continue. Usually her response would be a resounding YES but this time she said “No, I want to go home.”

 

 

I asked her a few more times whether she wanted to continue. Usually her response would be a resounding YES but this time she said “No, I want to go home.”As she muttered the words her bottom lip began to quiver and the tears continued to flow down her face. All I wanted to do was take away her pain and make her feel better. It was so hard watching her struggle with a fear of snowboarding that seemed to be taking over. I looked at her in the eyes and said “ok, we do not have to snowboard, but I want to continue to hang out with you so let’s get some French Fries first. Would you like that?” She whispered a small “yes” between her quivering lips.

Soon her quivering lip and tears disappeared as they typically do with toddlers. We happily ate the French fries, drank some fresh water and then happily talked about the Lion King. While we sat there enjoying our treat I really wanted to make sure that she knew that the point of this day was not for her to snowboard for ME. It was for us to enjoy the time together without her dad or little sister. It was time for US to build our relationship. Ultimately I wanted to let her know that I love HER and love spending time with HER no matter what we are doing together.

After discussing the Lion King and singing quietly a little hakuna matata, I asked if she would like to watch some snowboarding videos. I wanted to bring some of the excitement back into snowboarding and was hoping that she would at some point want to board again whether it was today or another day.  An excited YES had me opening my phone to watch some snowboarding. We watched for 5 minutes before I asked if she wanted to snowboard one more time before we headed home. With a big smile she said she wanted to go snowboarding again.

As excited as ever we walked to the magic carpet to start our journey back up the ski hill. She smiled at me and started doing her little dance as we were waiting to reach the top. I could feel the stoke that she was feeling.

I was given the opportunity to truly reflect on why I enjoy taking my daughter snowboarding and what I wanted us to both gain from spending time outdoors together

 

 

She snowboarded down the mountain while attached to our Lil’ Ripper Gripper Harness for extra security. She felt secure and happy.  I kept asking her if she was finished and wanted to go home. She made us stay until the hill closed. While she did not understand why the hill closed at 5 and really wanted to see all the lights turn off, I somehow managed to convince her we had to leave to have supper at home with her Dad and little sister.

Today was a challenging but rewarding parenting day. I was given the opportunity to truly reflect on why I enjoy taking my daughter snowboarding and what I wanted us to both gain from spending time outdoors together. Ultimately I want us to get to know each other during these experiences and that regardless of the activities we do together, I love her no matter what.

 

By Annika Mang

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