Welcome to the routine

Sending the baby off to school isn’t just a milestone for the child, it’s the coming of a new age for parents as well.

Early childhood resources recommend parents prepare their children for school by ensuring they can perform a variety of personal tasks independently, such as being able to put on their own coats and shoes.

My resource list extends that guideline to being able to put on ski boots and skis. School begins at 8:30 a.m., and it’s accessed by either hopping on a 150 metre surface lift conveyor belt, or strapping on skis to ride its sister lift, a platter, to school.

Parents knew that this day was coming, and some rued the prospect of sherpa-ing the skis, boots, helmets and poles to school. Parents of non-skiers and reluctants worried about how the process would unfold. But, wouldn’t you know, our concerns were for naught. Sure, we’re still the sherpas, sure we have to hustle the kids out of the house 15 minutes earlier, and sure we have to suit them up in snow pants and toques, but looking at the kids, I, for one, can’t complain.

My kid was the “wait till the last possible minute to leave the house” kid on school days, but now that the effort’s extended, she’s pleased as punch to get out the door. Likewise, she was a fair weather skier, as long as the mood struck her, and now she’s begging to stay after school to ski a little bit longer.

This school’s a different sort of model; a model that didn’t meet my kindergartner’s expectation of “school.”

“Are you excited about going to kindergarten?” I asked her in the summer.

“Oh, yes!” was her response.

“What are you looking forward to?”

“Big, wide hallways, my own desk and the gym,” she replied to my sinking heart.

Her school has none of these things. But, when the day came to drive the 12 minutes to get her to her new classroom and she complained of the carsick, horrid feeling the drive brought, any reservations about expectations unmet went out my driver’s side window. Hallways, personal desks, and gyms were a fair sacrifice for 12 minutes in the car versus the 45 minute plus alternative on the big yellow bus. For my carsick kid at least.

And now I’m still getting up before the roosters. I’m still negotiating the massive drying rack of boot liners, mitts, balaclavas and toques that grace my living room fireplace each morning and night. Not to mention the homework, changes of clothes, lunch, helmet, and surely she has a second ski pole somewhere? It’ll turn up, no doubt, in the middle of the lawn when the snow melts in spring. I’m still hauling the gear up the magic carpet, but beside me, my daughter, as proud as can be, is wearing her colours riding a ski lift to school. She’s greeting the lifties as members of her team, anticipating lunch hour when she can not only put on her own coat, but her snow pants, ski boots, helmet and skis too, before heading out the door for her mid-day ski.

There are a lot of things that come with kindergarten, and sometimes things that don’t. Hallways, desks, gyms and a mom’s laissez faire hopes of getting out of the house with ease are a few that can be tossed when it comes to seeing a smile on the face of a surprised little kindie en route to a lifetime of healthy, active living.

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