Spring break. The time parents plan for and children dream about. A trip to the beach, amusement park, or in our case, the mountains. We chose to drive to our destination. It forced family fun and was simply easier than flying with our gear.
Squabbling sisters in the back of the truck argued over who crossed the imaginary middle line. Older brother reached around and unplugged their power cord because they kept kicking his seat. He was surrounded by girls and all their stuff and all their drama!
“MOM! May I please drive!?!” he shouted. “I can’t handle these three anymore!”
We pulled over and let our newly permitted driver take charge of the fully loaded truck. Loaded with all the people I love… and our stuff. Snacks too, because who travels without snacks?
As Denver approached, we reclaimed the wheel and shuffle seats again. We made it! Fifteen long hours crammed in the truck. Now it was a hotel for the night. More jamming of people into a close space. It was not a small room, in fact it was a suite. But it’s not our house. Everyone had to coexist in a tight area without the comforts and solitude of home.
We rose early and headed into the mountains. It was a comparatively short drive. Everyone was giddy and happy to be stuffed into the reconfigured truck. We moved the snowboards out of the carrier and into the truck for an expedited exit when we reached our destination.
My oldest child is a wonderful snowboarder. He’s been an instructor for two years and can shred circles around me. At home he’s a good albeit typical big brother to his three younger sisters. In the mountains, something amazing happens. He puts on his instructor hat with the older brother twist. He is helpful and funny, kind and caring, and most of all present. He is engaged and a full participant in family life.
The girls ate it up.
The next several days pass and we settled into a rhythm. We ate, rode, drank water, ate some more, rode, and headed back to the condo at night. We watched a movie and ate some dinner or headed to a restaurant. We swam the pools and utilized the hot tubs.
Towards the end of the week, we separated a little on the mountain. My husband and I took the littles down a black diamond (expert only) while my bigs hit the park (jumps and rails). We were in the same general area, but not together. After waiting a while to reconnect and eventually becoming impatient, my husband and I took the littles up the lift and decided to plop right there in the snow and eat our lunch. Finally the bigs came up.
Something was wrong.
My son calmly asked me to call ski patrol for him. It was his calm that scared me senseless. He couldn’t move his arm. His hand was turning purple. He had fallen coming out of the trees and landed on his shoulder. Thankfully, he didn’t hit his head or injure his neck (we ALWAYS wear helmets).
The ski patrollers arrived, put him in the sled, and quickly skied down the mountain to the onsite emergency room. I ditched the rest of my family and flew down the mountain after the patrollers. Thankfully nothing was broken or dislocated. We were all relieved, especially his sisters, who were more concerned than I expected.
Usually toward the end of a trip, my kids are done being with each other. They’ve had enough together time and can’t wait to escape to their own quiet.
Instead, this day and in the days that followed, they rallied around each other. Their brother couldn’t do what he normally does at the end of the trip. He’s the muscle who deals with boards and helps load the truck top carrier. Heavy bags are left for him as well as the bulky items we struggle to carry. Now HE needed help.
Not one time were they annoyed or put out by his requests. The girls picked up the slack and got the work done to make each day complete. They commiserated with him when he was sad over not being able to help drive home. One even went so far as to give him her car treat because he dropped his and it was ruined.
Now that is true love.
Spring break is our time to reconnect. And this spring break made my mom heart grow three sizes bigger. I question if I do enough as parent more often than I should, but my mind was at ease – at least for this moment in time. My kids love each other.
…They may even like each other.