After picking up subs from the grocery store, buying a used helmet, and renting skis, my five-year-old and I were ready for a great day on the local ski hill, or so I thought.

We headed over to the magic carpet, the one part of the mountain not drenched in sunshine, but dark and shadowy. The moment my son clicked into his skis, his body turned into a wet noodle. He waited face down sprawled in the snow, waiting for me to lift hum up and untangle his skis. The more I asked him to focus, the less capable he became.

My voice had an edge to it as I begged him to just try and stand up. The more determined I was for him to have fun and love skiing as much as I do, the more he resisted.

I thought I’d have no problem teaching my athletic and coordinated kid. After all, I had spent a season teaching people to ski, but being a ski instructor didn’t translate into being able to teach my own kid how to ski. 

Reluctantly I shelled out fifty bucks for one-hour of ski instruction for my five-year old. I thought I was buying some time to mentally regroup and avert the meltdown I could sense was about to overcome my son. I had no idea that in one hour the ski instructor would transfer my limp-bodied-determined-not-to-ski boy into a kid who loves skiing so much he won’t leave until the lift closes.

Within minutes of meeting his ski instructor, my son waved me away. He listened to her every word and seriously tried. I went off to squeeze a few runs in during his hour lesson. Forty minutes later I was equal parts elated and terrified as I saw my five-year old and ski instructor load onto the chairlift. My five-year-old who couldn’t manage to stand on skis thirty minutes ago was now headed up the mountain.

From a season of well-intentioned parents interrupting the progress of their kid by popping in, I knew better than to interrupt his lesson. Still, I couldn’t resist the urge to watch his first real run. I trailed behind them at a respectful distance.

His ski instructor expected more of my son than I would have. She skied out in front and made him scoot himself over the flat sections. She refused to push him along or pick him up, instead patiently explaining how he could do it by himself. She used positive encouragement. Not once did he whine that he couldn’t do it or flop onto the snow in despair.

At the end of the lesson, he couldn’t wait to show me how much he learned and we spent the rest of the weekend skiing together. Turns out that hiring a ski instructor was the best decision I ever made on the slopes.