All you need

Last weekend, we sent our seven-year-old son off with a snowboarding instructor who expanded J-man’s passion for the sport and confirmed that he could venture forth on his own. Though the J disagreed, I insisted that “on his own” actually meant “with his mother or father,”

So, he and I set off together. He wanted the challenge of an intermediate trail. But I, conservative and probably a bit nervous, was more comfortable starting with a beginner slope. To minimize any argument, I suggested taking the lift to the top of the mountain. Hopefully, the altitude would allow him to feel like he was embarking on a challenging trail, and I knew we could take a beginner slope from there.

We navigated the lift line and boarded the lift. As we rode to the top, my heart leapt to my throat. My son has a slight build, so I worried about him sliding through the safety bar and dropping to the terrain below. From his perch, he watched the boarders on the slopes, which sometimes involved twisting his body to see how they fared as they progressed further down the mountain. He occasionally needed to adjust a boot or mitten, or slowly scrape ice off the bar or seat. He remained cool and in control while he made these movements, but each one filled me with panic that he might slip through the safety bar.

We finally FINALLY made it to the top of the mountain and off the lift. I thought I could breathe a sigh of relief and relax but no. Of course not. When he skis, I ski behind him, partly to keep an eye on him but mostly because I am slower. After doing this for years, I can watch his body movements and predict his turns. I know how fast he can go and still be in control. I can tell when he is about to fall.

But now he is on a snowboard, and I am not so familiar with the body movements that go with snowboarding. The mountain felt like a crowded rush of fast skiers and boarders zipping way too close to my little boy. As for predicting his moves, I couldn’t tell if he was about to turn away from danger or head into it. As he flirted with the edge of the trails, I worried that he wouldn’t turn in time and then go careening over the edge. No matter how many times or ways I asked him to stay away from poles and other hard objects, apparently they have a magnetic quality.

I could do nothing but worry about any of these things, and that worry consumed me through that run, the next ride on the lift, and the following run. After several iterations of this, I realized that, even if he got into trouble, I had no real skills to help him. This only compounded my worry and feeling of helplessness.

I had to get off this ledge. The worry wasn’t fun, or useful, or anything I value. Think think think. In the worst case, what could I do? Really, all I could do was be there. I could be first on the scene, for whatever that is worth. I could let him know that I was there. I could hold his hand.

Knowing what I could do gave me a little tiny opening in the worry, and through that opening, I could see that he periodically checked to make sure I was watching him. Confident, he wanted to make sure that I saw his smooth moves, and he was happy that I had an eye on him. A few times, he stopped at the top of a steep slope to get my reassurance that he could do it.

From my perspective, my emotional support didn’t feel like much. But, if disaster struck, it would exactly what he would need from me. I could leave the more tangible tasks to the professionals.

My worry cleared a little more and I relaxed enough to learn his snowboarding movements, to predict a turn as well as a fall. I observed pieces of the culture as older snowboarders made nice comments or stopped to give him tips. He worked on his turns, going for longer stretches between falls and finding jumps. And he kept looking for me, making sure that I was watching him when he was doing something great and that I was nearby in case he needed me.

Fortunately, none of my horrific visions materialized. Eventually, he will snowboard as fast and well as he can ski, and the time will come when I won’t be able to keep up. But today, he was happy to have me nearby, and we did okay together.

I relate to this feeling of making sure that someone is nearby. Sometimes I write more often than others, reaching out to you. I am checking to make sure you are there. Even if I am not in trouble, your presence is still necessary, still strengthening, and still makes the run more fun. I reach out to you, as your presence makes good news even better and provides reassurance when I feel a little uncertain or scared.

Know that even if it feels like all you can do is be there, that in itself is often exactly what I need. Thank you.

Love and blessings,

20 thoughts on “All you need

  1. Hi Marie,

    I haven’t seen you in a while, but I heard about your blog from Devon. I love how you take a small, focused experience and relate it to a much bigger picture, such as in today’s story of skiing with your son. In different ways, probably all parents have been in that situation, wanting to give our children freedom but worried about the consequences, and wondering how best to help them if they fail. Thanks for your writing and your vision. Warmly, and with best wishes for 2014,

    Kristina Vetter

    On Mon, Jan 6, 2014 at 3:40 PM, Adventures in Spiritual Living wrote:

    > Marie Colantoni Pechet posted: “Last weekend, we sent our > seven-year-old son off with a snowboarding instructor who expanded J-mans > passion for the sport and confirmed that he could venture forth on his own. > Though the J disagreed, I insisted that meant with his mother or father, > “

    • Kristina, how wonderful to hear from you. Wow. We ask about you every time we run into any mutual friend! So glad we are still connected. Thank you for being there, and for sharing your thoughts too. All the best and hope to see you all this year!

  2. I am here for you!  I read and appreciate your posts, and will always have your back.

    I know you have mine, too.  I started radiation, but had an abnormal reaction to it – swelling and redness.  I think it’s just my hyper-sensitive skin, but it’s on hold while we investigate it (yes, I’m the kind of pain the butt patient that wants to read the studies that recommendations are based on). This whole thing is a full time job, and I start my paying job tomorrow!



    • Gina, so glad we are here for each other. I love that we have been through so much together. Lots of love to you. And continue to be the pain in the butt patient (as long as you aren’t a pain in your own butt). I have come to believe that that is the best.

  3. I am here.

    AND Jim and I both commented on how beautiful, and healthy, you seemed at the party!!

    Go you !

    Xoxoxo With love, A

    Sent from Anna Huckabee Tull’s iPhone–sorry for any Thumb Typos

  4. Because I am no where near you geographically, it is important to me that you know I am always near you in Spirit. Your posts always make me feel that somehow you know I am on the other end of the cyber sphere reading them and sending love in return💛💙💜

  5. What a wonderful set of posts for the New Year! This one brought back memories of winter activities with my kids, at a time when my being right behind them (on a toboggan) was reassuring to them (and to me). Your name continues to be called aloud during our weekly prayers for healing.

  6. Oh…I almost forgot: My best and brightest wishes for happiness and all good things for you and the entire family in 2014!

  7. OKAY, Marie,
    I would like to come back to this slope and try to be one of the watchers you know is keeping an eye out……even if I stay silent in the background.
    It is not unfamiliar territory, as I also was in similar role for a long time with my son.
    I appreciate the analogy. Happy trails to you in 2014!

  8. Glad you got through the day and lessened your worry. We are off skiing to Japan and will have our almost 4 year old on the slopes for the first time. He’s in day care but we will also put him on skis for a while. It should be fun and I’m sure he’ll be good at picking it up, low centre of gravity and all. There’s so much to worry about in life, but I love how skiing is that real downhill surrender. Hope you take that feeling away too.

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