Yesterday was the first day that I felt that my small family of three finally embraced this cold long winter.
For the past week, a red plastic sled has sat in our living room, where my son has been taking me and his stuffed animal friends for a boat ride. I brought the sled up partly so that my son could play with it, and partly as a very visible reminder that we still had to poke holes into the front and add a rope for pulling the sled before taking it out to use.
Yesterday, by late morning I was getting a little restless and frantic that holes had not yet been poked and a rope not yet been found, while snow was gently falling falling with the weather finally above -10 celsius. This prompted my husband to put down his iPad and morning coffee prematurely to search for something rope-like in the garage.
My husband came back with speaker wires. To that I snapped on one of my old glasses case as an elegant handle. We were set.
Off to the tobogganing hills we went. It was close to noon when we got there, with only a few older children tobogganing and no one as young as my 2.5 year old son. I began to wonder if the hill was too steep for him, and possibly too bumpy, as I watched one of the intrepid tobogganers fly over a hump towards the bottom.
“Why don’t I try it out by myself first,” I suggested aloud, to which my husband readily agreed, pushing me ahead. I stalled for a bit, and asked the 8-year-old watching beside us if it was scary, realizing that I hadn’t gone tobogganing since I was much younger when my bones were quicker to heal. She reassured me – “It’s fun!”
In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have screamed on my way down, since I was supposed to be showing my son that tobogganing was fun and not scary at all.
It’s a good thing that young children place unquestioning trust in their mommies. By the time I climbed back up, my son was eager to nestle with me on the sled as together we experienced his first toboggan ride ever. Wheeeeeeeee! He was a solid and cosy bundle hugged in front of me, as we sped down and went much further than I did on my first ride down.
“Was that fun?” I asked him when we finally came to a stop.
“Look how far we went! You wanna go again?”
My son didn’t answer, his eyes still taking everything in — the bottom of the hill, how he got there, the other children tobaggoning down (but without screaming like his mommy), the white white snow covering everything, still falling still falling.
“That was fun!” I announced to my husband when we get back up. “Wow – his first time!” I exclaimed as I give my son a hug.
“Do you want to go again?” I asked again. My son was still taking everything in, watching the other children.
I turned to my husband. “Hey – do you want to go?”
“Yeah?” My husband seemed to hesitate. “Uh, okay.”
My husband didn’t get far down before his sled swerved off to the left ending in a mini wipe-out. But he laughed it off, got back on, and made it all the way down.
When he climbed back up, I realized something and asked, “Hey, was that your first time tobogganing?”
“Yeah, I guess it was!”
My husband grew up in Florida. Even though he’s been through 10 Canadian winters, it was only last year that he realized that mittens are much warmer than gloves after he borrowed my mittens one day, and that he didn’t need to take off my son’s regular pants to put on his snow pants (we actually argued about this since he was disbelieving).
I beamed and realized however much fun my husband and son were having in tobogganing for the first time, it couldn’t have been as joyful as it was for me to be a part of their experience.
I remember the first time I went tobogganing. It was in Grade 6, which was much later than when most children had their first tobogganing experience. I went with a few friends to a huge hill after a big snowfall. My heart raced as I readied myself, and then I squealed and laughed in delight all the way down. I climbed back up the hill as fast as I could, and after a few runs like this, my enthusiasm betrayed me. Someone asked me, “Is this your first time tobogganing?” I turned red and denied it. It seems so silly now, the things we get embarrassed about. There are still many things I haven’t done or can’t do, and that I look forward to trying for the first time.