Copyright 2003, David Susong, used by permission
I don’t want to go skiing!
I stopped in my tracks when my daughter offhandedly said these words. I slowly turned around and gave her a piercing glare. She again said, matter of factly, “I don’t want to go skiing today” and finished with a slight turn of her head and for final punctuation raised her nose in the air.
As a skiing obsessed parent these words sent a chill down my spine while at the same time anger rose up my throat. An offspring of mine not want to go skiing! It would be and offense against her family traditions, her heritage, and her genetics. Genetically she should have been preprogrammed before birth to ski. Now at a young age she does not want to go skiing. I was stunned. I stammered a muddled reply.
My wife knows how to deal with these situations. She comes from a long line of violent tempered Scots. Her ancestors spent years wading through the muddy muck of the Moors, wearing kilts and hacking up the hapless English with broad swords. Her reaction to such a heretical outburst from our daughter was predictable. She responded with a sharp almost violent edge to her voice, “We are going skiing and if you don’t get downstairs and get your ski cloths on you will regret it”. My daughter replied, ” I don’t care. I am not going skiing today”. My daughter doesn’t know much about her mother’s ancestry yet or she might not have been so brave and nonchalant in her reply. I could see the bloodlust rising in my wife’s eyes and decided that it was time I intervened.
My ancestry includes some of the hapless English who got hacked up by my wife’s family and some more even-tempered folks from the Continent. As a natural diplomat I urged my daughter to reconsider her position on the day’s planned activities. I let her know that I empathized with her and understood her feelings in the finest Clintonisque manner. Seven-year olds can be tough negotiators. She saw right through me and with a pout on her face said simply, “I am not going”.
Not willing to give up easily, I thought about resorting to bribery but decided to hold that in reserve. Instead, I appealed to her sense of family. Skiing was part of her heritage that she should embrace, I told her. Not going skiing was going against her family, and her genetic structure and would result in internal conflict and psychosis. For this brilliant appeal, I was awarded the full 7-year old glare that screams, ” Dad, you are a cretin”.
My wife could not stand to listen to this and left to load the skis in the car. The pressure was on me to resolve this crisis quickly before she returned. I pulled out the stops and told our daughter that her refusal would threaten our domestic harmony and be a disaster for the cause of world peace. Not even a pout in response. Taking a different tack I warned her of the consequences that not going skiing and that she would simply be left home alone. I got the “you are funny glare”. Upping the ante, I informed her that she would not get any desert for a week. “Yah right, Dad” was her reply. It wasn’t until I explained to her that she would not watch TV for a week that I got her attention. At this she wailed, “That’s not fair”.
My wife returned to hear the wail and there was still fire in her eyes. So much for diplomacy. My wife had our daughter in her ski cloths and heading for the door before I could come up with another diplomatic overture. I turned to my wife as we headed for the door and said, “Good work”. In response, I received a growl.
As we got in the car, I told our daughter that I was very happy that she had decided to go skiing with us. She said, “Whatever”. This was a rough start to what turned out to be a very fine day of skiing. We all had a good time. It was just getting out of the house that was the tough part. I hope this isn’t a trend of things to come.