Last Sunday I took my two daughters skiing for the first time this season.
They have both gone in the past but the biggest challenge that I saw for the day was that they were at different ability levels. Gloria, who is eleven, was talking about going down the blue slopes this year and Ella, who is 7, has gone down the bunny slope but hasn't gone up the ski lift yet. In my mind, all three of us going up the ski hill was the first order of business. We would all go down the green slope nice and easy and call it a day.
I was planning on giving most of my attention to Ella, and just focus on getting down the easy hill no matter how long it took.
We made it through the frustrating process of getting our lift tickets and rentals. The good part was that their lift tickets were FREE!!!! but the rentals weren't. The bad part was that I have big chunky calves and it took two tries to find ski boots that fit right, and once I found the boots, I had to readjust the skis. Meanwhile, the girls were out on the bunny slope practicing.
By the time I was ready they were anxious to get going, up the ski lift. We worked our way over there and positioned ourselves to get scooped up. Ella was between us, and I grabbed onto her tight when it was time to get on and we sailed up over the pine trees as skiers of all ages and ability levels whizzed down the hill beneath us.
We were all excited and nervous and Ella especially was talking about how calm and happy she felt as we went higher up the side of the mountain. Soon enough we were at the top and hitting a major milestone for beginner skiers... getting off the ski lift.
I held on to her again, and Gloria and I both instructed her to lift her skis. The mound of snow at the top came abruptly and we slid down as a group and came to a stop. "Yay! We made it!"
I took a moment to make sure that everyone's zippers were up, and we were comfortable and warm before going down the hill.
I asked Gloria to go ahead but wait for us because we were going to be slower than her for sure. She went effortlessly to the next level, and I prepared Ella to make cautious back-and-forth progress to catch up.
But she fell right away, and the calm readiness that she had on the ski lift went away. I won't go into details of what was said (LOL) but I will say that she was panicking and mad at me for not helping her more than I was.
I tried to point out some of the other little kids who were going down the hill like tiny little pros. Let's do what they're doing. That only made her even more angry and upset.
And I thought to myself... I can't get her down the hill in a safe manner when she is in this state of mind. I could have done it if she was calm, but not when she is this upset.
It was one of those moments on the ski hill where you have to swallow your pride and ask for help getting down the hill. And help is available in the form of a guy with first aid training who will strap you to a toboggan and take you down the hill.
Gloria was still waiting for us.
I waved at her and tried to get her to understand the situation, but she was out of earshot.
The first aide guy, his nametag said "Gabe", said that I could ride down with her and he would strap us both down and we can go to Gloria, and all go down together.
It was a little embarrassing because I knew how to ski, but OK.
As we gathered our skis and poles and strapped us to the toboggan, Gloria came up to see what was going on. Now she was upset, because she wanted to ski down together. She wanted me to go with her on skis.
Luckily, Ella was fine with that. She went down on the sled and we skied down, cheering each other on.
When we reached the bottom, we just returned our equipment and headed home.
You might be wondering what this story has to do with playing trumpet.
Later that night Ella was saying that she had a bad day at the ski slope. But I had to remind her that she made a huge step in the right direction. This was her first time on the ski lift, and she did it! She got better at skiing!
She may not have been ready for the next step (going down the hill) but that shouldn't take away from the fact that she did the ski lift like a champ.
As her mom, and ski coach, it's my job to remind her that she got better even though she also experienced some disappointment. And make a plan for getting past the next hurdle. (I'm going to take them individually to a different ski area and probably take a ski class).
It reminded me of learning to play the trumpet for a few reasons.
1) You have to take a moment to congratulate yourself when you learn something new and celebrate progress, even when it's a baby step.
2) On the other hand, if you're going to get better at the trumpet, you have to always look for the thing that you have yet to learn and focus on that in your practice. That means that you will have times where you're frustrated and feel stuck.
3) If you feel stuck or frustrated, try not to freak out. :) Pay attention to your emotions and learn how to manage your frustration levels and get yourself into a positive optimistic mindset that will enable yourself to learn new things.