I had my once a week sanity break today--volunteer skiing with the kids up at the mountain. It was the perfect day for early spring skiing. Blue skies, no wind and highs in the 30s. While there wasn't any powder, it was nice to soak up the sun and enjoy some time with the kid I get to work with. He's an amazing little creature with a devilish personality and full knowledge of just how cute he is. He's quick and funny, and just when I think I've gotten a handle on how he skis and the best way to predict where he'll go next, he changes his mind and I end up chasing him down the mountain, hoping that my supervisor isn't watching. I can't use his real name (confidentiality issues) so we'll just call this seven-year old prankster Charlie. While some of the kids in the program have mental disabilities, Charlie has cystic fibrosis but is doing very well. Apart from the occasional cough he's just like any other normal, happy kid, though I would venture to say that he's cuter than most, but that's just me.
Today Charlie and I skied with another volunteer that I met while going through the training for the program. Since we've skied a little together, Megan and I are a bit familiar with how the other skis, though this means that she has seen me take a dive or two into the slopes and I have watched her confidently propel herself down the mountain with the grace and ease of a certified part-time ski bum. Humbling? Um...yeah. The three of us had a great first few runs and Charlie had even been coaxed into skiing with his arms in front of him to help him balance as opposed to dangling at his sides.
One of Charlie's favorite runs skirts down a narrow gully into the trees, a perfect ski haven for smaller people to practice their turns and pop over small jumps. When you first drop into the trees it feels a bit like you're popping down a rabbit hole. I went first and charted where the jumps were to let Charlie know so that he didn't go hurtling over them too fast. Behind him came Megan, watching to make sure Charlie was slowing himself down in time, controlling his turns and generally being a happy kid.
At the very end of the run, just as it comes out of the trees, there were a series of eight or nine bumps in a row that sped me up much faster than I expected them to and seemed to have come out of nowhere. As soon as I came out of the trees and stopped, I turned to make sure to tell Charlie to slow down over the bumps. But just as soon as I had looked up I saw him confidently slow himself down and gently cruise over the bumps without a word from me. No problem. He even hockey-stopped parallel to me and sprayed my boot.
But as I was standing there telling Charlie that he did such an awesome job, that I was really impressed with that hockey stop and that we should probably take some picture for his parents, I neglected to realize that where I was standing was perhaps not the best choice, and looked up just in time to see Megan come barreling out of the trees and tackle me to the ground, missing the wide-eyed seven-year-old by half an inch. There was even a wooshing sound followed by what could only be described as a cartoon-style thud.
As Megan and I tried to untangle ourselves, a combination of embarrassment and worry came out in the form of "I'm so sorry!...Ouch,where's my ski pole?...Don't worry about it--I shouldn't have been standing there...Are you okay? Are you sure?...Here, move your left leg over there, and your right leg there and I'll help you up...I can't believe I couldn't stop! Really, it's okay", and other things two genial pre-adult women say to each other when they've just accidentally gone toe to toe in front of the kid they're supposed to be keeping track of. Charlie, in the midst of all of the polite concern and apologies, began laughing and plunked himself down while happily throwing snow at us, as that was his contribution. He wasn't the least bit concerned. And of course we started laughing, too, even while trying to haul ourselves out of the heap.
I love this kid. Here we girls were, each apologizing profusely and Charlie's idea of how to managed the situation was to sit down, laugh and throw snow at it. I'm sure there's a life lesson in here somewhere, something about not taking things seriously when you're in the wrong place at the wrong time and someone accidentally tackles you metaphorically. And while I'm not entirely sure of what that little lesson is exactly, I do know that sitting down and laughing about it is something we could probably all do a lot more.
Song of the day: Crash Into Me by Dave Matthew's Band