The Drevitches, Week 23: Vacation Highs and Lows

Filed under: Healthy Families Challenge

gary drevitch Stratton Mountain picture

Benjamin and Natalie at the top of Stratton Mountain. Photo courtesy Gary Drevitch

Our February ski vacation was a showcase for the kids' healthy and unhealthy habits.

Benjamin, 10, and Natalie, 8, have been skiing for a few years now, and they've gotten really good. This is not my opinion. As a non-skier, I don't get to watch them, although on the last day of our week at Vermont's Stratton Mountain, I did catch a glimpse of the duo barreling down the bottom of a "terrain park," a slope manicured to accommodate jumps, and it was honestly thrilling to watch Benjamin leap and land like a junior X-Games competitor.

The two kids, skiing together all week, were promoted through three levels of the Stratton ski school, and my wife, Lynn, and my brother-in-law, who skied with the kids after their lessons each afternoon, told me not only how skilled they were, but how responsible and safety-conscious they were.

However, at the risk of drawing a frowny-face on what really was a fun vacation, I should note that as great as the kids' skiing was, that was about the extent of their healthy activity. Consider:

  • As soon as they hit the lodge after each day of skiing, they immediately and loudly demanded multiple snacks, preferably the resort's freshly-made chocolate-covered waffles ($4.50 each!). In their defense, each hour of skiing for kids their size burns almost 300 calories, so they were legitimately hungry, and I didn't stand in their way; if I did, I might have been trampled. But they sure weren't racing for the basket of apples.
  • When the kids got back to our rented house each night after snarfing those snacks, they complained about, or outright refused to eat, healthy foods like bananas and tomatoes. I appreciate that kids prefer to see vacation as a break not just from school but from all other trappings of civilization, like table manners, balanced meals, and tooth-brushing. But we parents disagree.
  • Instead of passing out each night, as you'd expect them to do after hours of exhausting black-diamond-level skiing, they shocked us by staying up as late as they could. OK, they were sharing rooms with their cousins, and they were having fun, but several nights, we had to confiscate their Nintendo GameBoys and iPod Shuffles well after bedtime. (We do give them some credit for watching very little TV throughout the week, though.) We don't quite know how they kept their eyes open, but they paid the price with several grumpy mornings as they returned to school after our trip.
  • And then there's Adam, 4. He spent a full week in ski school, learning basic turns and maneuvers. But when he returned to his pre-K class and all the children reported what they had done all week, he simply said, "I went to my vacation house and I played some games. And then I went outside and then I played a little bit more." Now, this is not technically "unhealthy," but -- especially given the cost -- it was a little disappointing to us that he didn't even mention skiing. Still, he had fun, and one of the week's highlights was watching him ski down the bunny slope with Benjamin, big brother being mightily impressed by his protege's progress.

We've been home for several days now, facing typical post-vacation challenges. A week of limited TV has made the kids hungry for screen time, and they've been sneaking away from homework to turn on the set almost every time we turn our backs. They've fallen out of whatever healthy-eating habits we'd been working on, continuing to avoid fruits and negotiating for the smallest possible servings of veggies at dinner.

We know things will get better. It takes time for the effects of a week away to wear off. But as proud as we are of their accomplishments at the top of the mountain, most of life is spent down here at the bottom, and we need to make it as healthy as possible.

We also wouldn't mind if they stopped calling everything that they like "sick" and "stupid," a habit they seem to have picked up from one of their ski coaches. Although I got a good laugh when I reviewed Natalie's homework the other day and told her she was "stupid smart"!

I guess you never know just what you'll bring back from vacation.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.