Faye Lippitt is a Canadian journalist living in Grand Cayman with her husband Greg. Together they raised six children in eight years, four of which arrived in pairs. To keep her head above water, Faye began writing about the crazy things the children would say and do, and those became the source of her book, “Sixteen Chickens on a Trampoline.” Excerpts are printed on a regular basis in The Cayman Reporter.
We’ve had better days on the mountain.
We lost one son’s hat, his mittens, our daughter’s hat, and our daughter.
Early on a Saturday in February, we loaded the old van with seven pairs of skis, boots and poles, five children and one of their buddies, and left for Sunshine Village in Banff Alberta. We stopped briefly for gas on the highway before heading westward. About five minutes later, our eldest son’s buddy asked,
“Where’s your sister?” Whereupon our son peered into the back seat, and asked the two lumps hidden under pillows and jackets, “Where’s Elly?”
“Shhhh,” was her brother’s breathless reply, “We’re hiding on her.”
Summarily advised of the problem, I reacted with studied calm, and careened across the first piece of traversable ditch to the opposite side of the highway, proceeded in haste in an easterly direction and took the first exit off the road, which took me at high speed in the wrong direction.
When we finally arrived at the service station, there was the little waif, arms crossed and fighting back tears. She threw open the van door and yelled “You idiots!” which was a sentiment she shared at some length in the gondola going up to the ski hill for the benefit of any strangers who might be interested.
On the first run, the younger three took a short cut with their older brother Charles, in order to meet me on our favorite hill. After waiting a half hour at the bottom for them, the latter showed up and explained that Stanley had accidentally slipped off the run, and since he was unable to get back up, they all jumped down to join him. Unfortunately they failed to note in the process the little black diamond symbol beside that run.
I suggested that perhaps it would be a good idea to climb back up there to see why they still weren’t down which, to his credit, Charles did.
Another half hour passed before all four arrived at the bottom, wearing a pound of snow on their toques. Seems that they had fallen in the middle of a very narrow traverse, and did a fair job of holding up traffic.
Stanley, eyes wide, explained, “I fell? And I couldn’t get my ski back on? So Elly tried to help and lost hers too? So we just stayed there and this snowboard guy? He came around the corner and said the Oh S___ word! Then his friends came? And they said it too!”
Thinking it was perhaps time for a warm up break, I lead the three youngest to the lodge for hot chocolate. Their brother muttered something about needing to finally get some skiing in and went off in search of his older brother and friend.
Inside it was not much better. Just different.
The hot chocolate meant to warm them up did just that – from the outside. A full cup of it landed on two of them.
It takes a while to dry a snowsuit using only the hand dryer in the washroom, and by the time we were finished, it was lunchtime. After waiting another hour for the older three, who in the thrill of the downhill lost track of time, we ate our lunch.
Half the day was gone, and we had only skied one run when we exited the lodge, only to discover the loss of two toques and one pair of mittens.
We made do with parka hoods, but one cannot easily ski without mittens, so we scrounged a pair from a sympathetic attendant in the lost and found.
We chose a T Bar to get to the first run. Elly went solo, I followed and finally Stanley and his brother Eddie went up together. And came down separately. That is, Stanley fell off, knocking Eddie in the process. Eddie’s coat got tangled on the bar, and he was dragged, shrieking with laughter, up the lift. The information eventually filtered down to the attendant, who stopped the lift, and both lads started over again.
When they resurfaced at the top, they decided that it would be a good idea to play a game of tag. The faint scent of cocoa trailed them as the two breezed by me yelling, “Hi Mom! Elly’s it!”
Elly followed yelling, “I quit!”
“I quit too”, the fellow I’d ridden up with said. “Are those Bickersons yours?”
I smiled weakly and pointed myself downhill, which pretty well summed up the day.
When we rejoined the others and crawled back into the van at the end of the afternoon, the younger three said, “Oh gee mom, that was just great! When can we come up again?”
I think I’ll just wait until their Dad can take them. I really hate to have all the fun myself.
Author’s note: When my kids were skiing, we wore toques (Americans call them beanies) on our heads. Nowadays sensible parents give their children – and themselves – a helmet to protect their heads. It’s a wonder our family survived.