At the end of a long vacation week came a ski day for my wife, daughter and me. Discussions went back and forth as to where to go. Mount Wachusett never became an option, given it is an overpriced, overcrowded, underwhelming experience in spite of their advertising. (I think the slogan should be little mountain skiing at big mountain prices — you might find worse but you won’t pay more.)
Our other options included mountains around two hours away before we settled on a return to Crotched Mountain, where my daughter has been involved in a thoroughly enjoyable school ski program, in stark contrast to prior experiences at the operation criticized above.
I hadn’t been to Crotched Mountain in over 26 years and found it to be a thoroughly pleasant, small-mountain experience that likely could use a few more customers to make a go of the operation. It’s a perfect little place to take novice and intermediate skiers without having to pay for the lift tickets with a financing plan.
So on Saturday we loaded up the car for a little quality time on the ski slopes. We planned our arrival perfectly, such that we had about 20 minutes before the lifts opened to suit up and get on the mountain for some early groomed runs.
There was, however, one slight glitch that became apparent only after having parked in the Crotched Mountain parking lot.
My daughter forgot her ski coat.
The equanimity with which I took this news astounded me. It was if I left my own body and observed this aging, portly man operating with extreme calm. I got out of the car and did the obligatory check of the trunk to look for the coat that was not there. I looked at the parking lot attendant and laughed while he winced and asked how far we had to drive to get home. Lucky for us we did head to Crotched Mountain all of 35 minutes away rather than Okemo or Mount Snow two to two and a half hours away.
All that having been said, my reaction goes against type. I do not know if it is birth order, gender — or, as the definite long shot, my own maturity — but there is no way I would have handled this situation the same way 10 years ago when she was not on the planet and her three older brothers would have been 9, 7 and 5. I have absolutely no doubt my head would have spontaneously combusted and there would have been blood on the seats as I reached for the miscreant who had muddled up the plans.
But rather than three children bickering with one another in the back seat, there was one singing along to the radio. Rather than three rowdy boys, it’s my darling youngest and only daughter, albeit with the potential to launch verbal assaults that would make a sailor blush thanks to her three older brothers and, sadly, her father.
I have close friends with an only daughter and have always told them raising one child isn’t parenting, it’s a hobby. As I would be enmeshed in untangling the various slights that had caused my three sons to start going at one another, he would simply smile at me and say, “I like my hobby,” as he fled for the exits.
So for whatever reason, I calmly returned home, did a little driveway plowing with the tractor, ate an early lunch, stapled my daughter’s winter coat to her body and returned to Crotched Mountain for a pleasant day of skiing. Well, a pleasant half-day of skiing.
Upon returning home from the ski day, my wife explained to the boys how their sister had forgotten her ski coat. They in various and hushed tones asked what had happened to her. When my wife said essentially nothing, they would turn and look at me in mock horror as if to ask, “OK, who are you and what have you done with our father?”
One, staring far off into the distance, just shook his head and said, “You would have killed us if we did that.”
Can’t say as I disagree with them. But they aren’t the youngest, and they aren’t the only daughter.
Mr. Woollacott is president and founder of Renaissance Group International Inc. Contact him directly at email@example.com.