I remember hearing parents of teenagers lamenting their child’s eminent departure from home and think oh, that won’t be me. After all, isn’t that what they are supposed to do? In my mental spreadsheet, my children will turn eighteen, move off to college, then come back to visit every night for family dinner. It will happen exactly that way, because my spreadsheet tells me so. Wasn’t that a childhood song…because my spreadsheet tells me so? No, wait, it was a bible school song…Jesus loves me this I know, for the bible tells me so. Yep, I went to bible school that one summer.
That song is better with my lyrics.
I digress. According to my spreadsheet every night is family dinner, even for college kids. Well, maybe every weekend night. I have to be reasonable, after all.
In all my imaginings I never considered that teenagers want to have jobs! And earn their own money! And autonomy for themselves!
Last November, Lillian got a job as a ski instructor at Mission Ridge, a local resort here in Wenatchee. She was immediately in love with her work! She comes home at all hours of day and night to regale us of her experiences with tiny humans on skis, sometimes for the very first time. She tells about the kids who are scared at first but fall in love with fresh, powdery snow in the first half day of a lesson with her. She tells about the two kids who couldn’t figure out the rope tow…so she carried them both like sacks of potatoes up the rope tow so they could learn to ski. She tells about knuckleheads that she had to march back to their parents for a time-out. She buys Starburst candies to keep in her pocket for celebrations with her students when they reach a new goal.
We love her stories!
We also worry about her every time she drives up and down that windy road to the top of a mountain early in the morning and late at night to get to work.
And, we miss her terribly at family dinners.
My mental spreadsheet wasn’t ready for her teenage job. Now, I find myself catching my breath when I think of her away at college.
Her other new love, when she isn’t teaching on the snow, is back country skiing. That’s some top secret code word for what happens when you ski outside the boundaries of the groomed runs. There are terrifying phrases that go along with “back country” like “dropping in” and “hip-deep powder”. And let’s not forget about other mountain concepts like “avalanche”.
I can’t with that.
I ask all the appropriate mom questions and make all the right demands about safety. She takes either a friend or a mountain-issued radio. We need to buy her an avalanche backpack…and then make her wear it.
Parenting ain’t for the meek.
In the meantime, I found some fun photos to catalog Lillian’s skiing timeline:
In 2013-2014 she skied for the very first time at Lookout Pass:
In 2014-2015 she joined the Lookout Pass Race Team:
In 2015-2016 she won some hardware:
2016-2017 brought more Lookout Pass Race Team experience and a fancy new suit for racing:
2017-2018 was filled with solo exploration time (sometimes she let me tag along…she skied backwards to “keep an eye on me”)
2018-2019 a new mountain, Mission Ridge, and new adventures!
2019-2020 She Teaches Now and Drops In to the Back Country (she also knows how to snowboard and can give beginner lessons)
Lillian turned 17 this month. I feel like our lives are in fast forward. Moments together are few and far-between work and sports and homework and responsibility. My mental spreadsheet isn’t ready yet for all these changes.
Time to google avalanche backpacks.