INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. - I am, at best, an intermediate skier. My first time on skis was in college, and the many years we lived in Bethesda, Maryland, with our children did not afford us much opportunity to ski regularly or in especially good conditions. I deal much better with ice, which I know how to handle, than I do with powder, which I have yet to explore.
As an intermediate skier, I've always depended on strategically planning my route down any slope. I count on being able to scope out the territory immediately ahead. I find security in the notion that I've always got about three turns anticipated. If one of those doesn't quite work as planned, I can make the necessary adjustments.
On a recent weekend, I found myself at Diamond Peak, first thing in the morning, ready to hit the slopes in my intermediate way. The three previous outings had been in bright sunshine; I felt I knew my way. This particular Sunday, however, proved to be a flat day, weather-wise. Regardless of the goggles or glasses I chose, it was difficult to tell earth from sky, as it were.
Both Crystal and Great Flume kind of reached out into nothingness. They were, however, nicely groomed, and this was my third venture in four days. I headed down with the assumption that my eyes would adjust, and I could make my normal plans.
Such was not to be. The entire morning, I could see nothing. Instead, I was forced to trust my instincts, my training, and my reactions, all of which worked surprisingly and reassuringly well. Instead of tensing whenever I encountered a bump, I simply found myself reacting without thinking about it. I stopped worrying. To the surprise of none of you who skis, the resulting runs were much smoother and easier than the norm.
How like parenting! We try our best to see what lies ahead for our children. We want to anticipate bumps, icy patches, and others who might run across their paths. We cannot always do that, regardless of how carefully we prepare and plan. There comes a time, as parents, when we simply have to trust the training we have given our children, trust the paths we have chosen, trust their ability to react quickly and effectively to whatever they encounter.
Worrying doesn't do a darn bit of good. We suit them up appropriately (as is happening in the Flex Room even as I write) and send them off happily. It's something we do well at Lake Tahoe School, both as parents and as an institution: We help our children find their own ways, trying hard not to impose upon them our own limitations. Often, they are able to see much more clearly than we.
(*In case you are not old enough to remember, this is in reference to the marvelous song, "I Can See Clearly Now," written and recorded by Johnny Nash in, um, 1972.)
- Ruth Glass is headmaster at Lake Tahoe School. She can be reached for comment through her blog at www.laketahoeschool.org.