My son has always wanted to go snowboarding.
We live in northeastern Massachusetts, and within an hour ride there are dozens of good snow hills and ski slopes. Within a couple more hours, there is Maine and the White Mountains of New Hampshire -- for the real skiers who can't travel to Europe or Banff or Vail or other such places.
For a number of reasons, I didn't want him to.
One, his attention span. He isn't good at learning stuff and sticking with it. It is also rather expensive as far as a sport goes. And finally -- my husband works at a rehab hospital. Several of his patients were snowboarders. Operative term is "were" snowboarders.
Use your imagination.
Our school district has an after school ski and snowboard program for kids. I looked into it a couple years ago and decided there was not enough adult coverage to avoid Geoff getting into trouble with another kid. All I could see in my mind was someone making fun of him when he fell down, or someone ragging on him for something else. The fists would fly and the language would get colorful and the next thing I knew Geoff would be out of the program on his ass.
So to this point in life, there has been no Geoff plus snowboard equals fun.
For his birthday, he asked for very few things. He asked for two books by Lois Lowry (I got him three), and he wanted guitar and drum lessons. I arranged for a kid from our high school who is a multi-instrumentalist (and quite good at them all) to come give lessons twice a week. It is costing me a lot less than going to an adult, or to a drum/music school. And he's THRILLED to be making some money doing something he loves. It is one on one, drums on Friday and guitar on Monday.
We started the lessons on his birthday, which made Geoff very happy.
And the final thing he wanted was to try snowboarding.
So I took him.
We went local, there is a little ski hill not too far from our house. It is where our school does their after school program every year. It is where all his friends learned to ski or snowboard.
They offer group lessons for an hour for $25, groups limited to 4 and based on age. I thought that was reasonable. The ticket, the rental of the boots, board and helmet combined with the lesson came to $55.
We went over to the lesson area and Geoff was the only one at his lesson post. A young man came over who I would have actually thought was younger than Geoff if I didn't know better. He looked at Geoff and identified him by name, "Yo. I went to summer camp with you when we were in Elementary School." The kid is a junior in high school (and a good foot shorter than Geoff) and he gave Geoff the bro fist and said "Hey! This is awesome! I get to work with Geoff today!"
So he had a private lesson, no one else was in his age group. I watched them on the slope together. Geoff couldn't figure out anything and spent a great deal of time on his ass. He also spent a great deal of time on his face, so I was glad he gave me his glasses. Geoff also couldn't figure out how to use the rope pull up the bunny slope, so he and the kid walked up about 10 times.
Lesson time was over, but the kid kept going. He kept working on things with Geoff, for a good 15 or so minutes past the time that he needed to. He knew the lesson was over, he told me he didn't have anything else to do that day so ... why not spend a little longer.
The instructor came and told me that if Geoff comes back a few more times he'll definitely get it. I asked him if he wanted to stay and work on it, but he was bushed from the nearly 90 minutes of working on falling down. I was a little disappointed because that was a chunk of change to spend for 90 minutes of whatever... but he was ready.
On the way home, he said that he loved it and can't wait to go back. He's torn between saving money for a new pokemon game for his DS and going snowboarding again.
I was happy to see him happy. He then came home and played drums with the new knowledge that he'd gotten from his teacher (and he sounded 10,000 times better than he did the day before, that's for sure).
It crossed my mind that I had forgotten how he does when he WANTS to do something. Long time readers may recall the Red Onion, his first two wheel bike. He couldn't ride that thing to save his life. But he kept at it. We let him ride in the back yard on the grass and he eventually got it. He nailed it. And watching him ride was like watching a kid who had been riding for years.
His drum/guitar teacher said "when Geoff gets it and it clicks I can SEE it click, and SEE him get it. He'll do fine at snowboarding and he'll learn as much as I can teach him, as long as he's interested."
And that's the truth.
So, the start to 14 has been great for the boy. I look forward to watching him improve at what he desires to do.