I grew up on a cattle ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. After spending nearly 20 years working as a copywriter in advertising, my first book, Confessions of a Slacker Mom, came out in spring of 2004 and made the San Francisco Chronicle's best-seller list. My second book, Confessions of a Slacker Wife, was released in spring of 2005.

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How I Ruined Skiing for Our Whole Family

Do you have a favorite sport or activity you enjoy? Would you like to make sure no one else in your family likes it as much as you do? Well, read on! In fact, if you follow the easy steps I’ve outlined below you can probably count on your children hating your favorite thing and howling like hyenas whenever they’re forced (because physical force will be the only method left to you) to do it!

The ski season is ending now, and I’m looking back in stunned dismay at the piddly few days I got our kids out on the hill, and the fact that they didn’t want to go even that handful of times and complained most of the time they were out there. How did this fabulous opportunity I offered my children turn into an odious chore? How did something so inherently fun become so loathsome for them?

I’ll tell you how!

If you want to ruin your favorite activity for your children the first thing you must do is convey to them how extremely fond you, yourself, are of it. I’ve loved skiing all my life, in fact it feels like second-nature to me, and I was determined that skiing would be the Ferro Family Sport, our most beloved way of spending time together, every weekend, all winter long. The fireplace mantle of my imagination was adorned with rosy-cheeked, happy-faced Ferro Family Skiing snapshots from the time my children were conceived. So I made it clear as soon as Belle and Joe were old enough to have their chubby little feet jammed into the uncomfortable confines of a ski boot that I adored skiing, that I thought it was just about the greatest good time a person could have.

My unrestrained enthusiasm was an effective way of making both Belle and Joe suspicious of skiing right at the outset. It was being over-sold, their subconscious little minds told them; therefore we probably won’t like it. And they probably got a whiff early on of the fact that they’d be made to do it whether they liked it or not.

But that’s just the first step in how I took all the fun out of skiing. The other thing you need to do if you want to ruin your favorite activity is make sure it’s practically effortless for your children to participate in it. In your attempts to get them to join you in your beloved recreational pursuit you will remove all the barriers possible, and it will backfire neatly. As far as skiing goes, I never mentioned to my children that it was danged expensive. Oh no, I purchased all their equipment and lift tickets without complaining, so intent was I on getting them to the ski hill. I got them into their outfits on ski mornings with very little in the way of exertion on their part, which is quite difficult, and I cheerfully carried their skis and poles to the bottom of the lift. And this from a mom whose children were made to put their own dishes in the dishwasher from the age of five!

Now, making something super-easy might seem counterintuitive as a way of getting people not to like it, but the reason it works so effectively is that by the time you’ve removed all the hurdles for them, your children will have no investment in the thing. They didn’t have to beg you to do it. They didn’t have to earn any of the money it costs to do it. They didn’t even have to carry their own crap up to the hill to do it. In other words, it’s not any privilege. And the only one with an investment in it will be you.

I don’t think Belle and Joe are especially diabolical in this regard, either. I don’t believe they’re trying to make me miserable by rejecting my idea of the fabulous Ferro Family Sport. I think it’s just human nature to have a greater appreciation for things that cost you dearly than for things that were handed to you on a silver platter.

There’s still next year, though, and I’m already planning my strategy. The minute the first snow flies I’m announcing that there’s not going to be any skiing. It’s way too expensive, I’ll say, and besides, Belle and Joe, you’re probably too little. Skiing’s more of an older kids’ sport. So why don’t you just sit there and watch TV and we’ll talk about skiing when you’re in Junior High.

Check back with me though, because if that doesn’t work by January I might have to revert to physical force.



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