So, if last year’s experience taught me that it’s OK not to ski during Sundance, this year I proved that the Sundance Film Festival + skiing = Awesome.
Click below to read more about my Sundance 2016 experience
So, if last year’s experience taught me that it’s OK not to ski during Sundance, this year I proved that the Sundance Film Festival + skiing = Awesome.
Click below to read more about my Sundance 2016 experience
So, Tuesday was kind of a big day around here.
Seth, having conquered the 20m jump in his alpine gear, the previous Friday, was given his first set of nordic ski jumping equipment—boots, and some wide, flat, long skis with no edges and special bindings that allow the heel to flex away from the ski. You know, for flying.
He practiced some in-run position drills (skiing under the hoops helps form). As they made their laps, my friend Stacey came over to tell me, “I hope you don’t mind, but I just told your son to suck it up,” she said. “He was complaining about the boots.” Good, I thought—it came from someone other than me. That left Jeff and me the room to pep-talk Seth through the first uncomfortable, awkward moments in the new gear, the adjustment to the new learning curve, and the frustration that came along for the ride.
He took some jumps—which was a lot harder on the new gear than he thought it would be. But all I could do is yell—”That’s my kid! THAT’S MY KID!!!”
Which is what was happening when my friend Valerie showed up to watch, with the stars of a movie she produced, called Eddie the Eagle. The film is based on the life of Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton), a British ski jumper who defied the odds to compete in the 1988 Olympic Winter Games in Calgary. His coach is played by Hugh Jackman. Which was, it turns out, just enough excitement to make Seth feel better about the steep learning curve he was encountering on the new skis.
Hugh and Taron watched the kids fly, and enthusiastically congratulated them on their skills. It was hard to tell who was having more fun, really. But I got a hint, a few hours later. (More on that, in a moment.)
As it happened, Eddie was the “Townie Tuesday” screening, for which Sundance Film Festival officials had distributed free tickets to locals. The kids were bummed that we were not taking them to the 9pm screening. But 9PM! On a school night! Not even I, “Fun Mom,” am that irresponsible—and I can bring it. So, we got them settled at home and set off toward town, for the film. My friend Sarah scored great seats at the front, and saved some. In turn, we saved three for our jumping pals, Stacey, Julie and Coach Lindsey.
Which turned out to be fortuitous, because Taron and Hugh came to the screening to introduce the film, shared their visit to UOP with the audience and wound up in a chat with Lindsey. You can watch the whole exchange, here:
And then…we watched the movie and loved every minute of it. Everything from the writing and acting to the direction and the music—oh, the 80s synth wonderland of a score! My bone to pick? The cinematography—it captured, all too well, the spectacular heights and the death-defying crashes, which are, of course, part and parcel of the sport. I tried to comfort myself with the idea that some things are exaggerated for dramatic and comedic effect, but having just spent the evening watching a practice in which more kids fell than usual (icy course), those moments hit a little too close to home.
However, I’m thrilled to say that the aspect of the sport that Eddie the Eagle captured best is the one I love the most, and one that the PCNSC embodies—its spirit. The essence of jumping is as much heart as it is skill, and if you have heart, you’ve won. And, by the way last Tuesday went, I’d say everyone involved was a winner.
Spending a family reunion on skis is one of the most fun excuses I can think of for getting the gang together. And while my cousins like to travel around to other canyons, while they’re here, our family ski days are centered at Deer Valley.
“Can we go back to UOP tomorrow, so I can jump again?” Seth asked me.
“Not until Friday,” I told him.
“Oh,” he said. “That’s sad.”
Seth and I were cuddling on the couch, talking about all the fun he had learning to Nordic Ski Jump at Utah Olympic Park today. Because, what’s better than spending a Friday afternoon, when you’re eight, learning how to fly? I’ll tell you what’s better: Being 42, and watching your kid learn how to fly.
I’ll admit, in the moments before he took his first run, my heart was in my throat. And then—he flew. First off the 5-meter hill, then off the 7-meter hill, and then, off the 10 meter. Like he had been doing it his whole life. I couldn’t contain my excitement. Neither could he.
He sure made it look that easy.
The odds may have been stacked in his favor to love it. He loves skiing, he loves the idea of getting “big air,” and one of his BFFs, Josie, has been doing it for a year, already.
She, too, fell in “love at ‘first-jump’,” according to her mom. Josie and their friend Daniel kept offering tips and encouragement to Seth.
Plus, the coach, Anders Johnson, a three-time Olympian who was the youngest Olympic Ski Jumper in history, is the son of a friend of ours. (And he’s a great guy who easily translates his love of the sport for the kids.) Um, cool much? (I sent his dad the following text, today: “Your kid coached my kid at UOP today. I’m a little farklempt.”)
Cooler, yet: Seth went to UOP as part of Park City Youth Sports Alliance Get Out and Play. See, Park City School District has half-day Fridays, and YSA offers lessons in multiple disciplines of several sports, on Friday afternoons: skiing (alpine, nordic, alpine freestyle, nordic jumping), snowboarding (recreational and freestyle), skating (hockey, figure skating, speed skating), and more. YSA grants scholarships so that students who wouldn’t ordinarily get exposure to these lifetime sports get to play, too. Kids are bused from school to sports venue, and back.
Parent volunteers buckle boots, adjust helmets, help the kids get themselves and their gear on and off the bus, offer snacks and the occasional comforting hug after a fall. I was one of those volunteers today: they let me run the rope tow —which was almost as cool as the time I was volunteering at the ski jumps during the Olympics, and someone told me to put a tank full of hot chocolate on my back and climb the steep stairs next to the jumps, so that I could offer the judges a cup of cocoa.
But nothing was as sweet as hearing my boy whoop and holler as he landed each jump, and then tell me how much he loves this sport.
So, after he asked, nicely, the third time, if he really had to wait until Friday, to jump again, we signed him up for the Hoppers program at UOP, so he can jump Tuesdays, too.
“I don’t care if I’m good at it or bad at it,” Seth said. “I just want to keep doing it.”
My friends, I love your holiday cards. When those stacks of beautifully addressed envelopes arrive, nearly daily from November through January, I get excited. I can’t wait to see your family photos, to read about your family’s year. And, yes, I feel a pang of guilt, because we don’t send cards, ourselves, in spite of the fact that we usually have a good photo to use. See, every year, for the past four years, we’ve met up with another family, so that Jeff can photograph them for their holiday card portrait. Then, they return the favor so that we have a cute family photo, too. It’s not all in vain—it shows up on Facebook. But, sorry, no cards.
My holiday card policy has a little to do with the fact that it’s not a Jewish tradition. (Jordana Horn makes a good case, on Kveller.) Still, I love receiving cards, and any excuse to send good wishes to people is a good excuse, so it has crossed my mind to send them. But then, there’s this: I’m primordially disorganized—I would have to muster my entire Getting My Shit Together Department in order to send out cards, and because of the first reason, I can’t make myself do that. Clearly. But having the photos is wonderful—and the out-takes, all the more so
Every year, we’ve gotten a little better at the photo. This year, we were able to complete both family portraits, plus some candids of the kids goofing off together with Lola, the other family’s dog, in under 30 minutes.
Part of this is that it was cold, and we wanted to go indoors. But, really, I think some of the magic is that you don’t have the stress of having hired a professional, which creates pressure that it MUST turn out well, for what it costs. And, there’s a certain amount of ice-breaking that simply doesn’t need to take place between close friends. We know what jokes to tell from behind the camera to make the subjects laugh. (Hint: the less “appropriate,” the better.) Or, you know, Mom can just go in for the tackle…
And we know we’re going to have a fun afternoon or evening together afterward. This year it was a playdate at their house, with some pizza and a great dinner table conversation. Anticipating more fun makes the moment just that much more charged with good photo mojo.
So, here’s where things stand: We get amazing photos because we tripped over a system that works. We like sharing them (three cheers for the Shutterfly photo plaque that I sent to our families for Chanukkah!). But cards? A bridge too far, for this disorganized mama.
And, so, with our heartfelt wishes for a wonderful 2016, and my thanks for your support of this site, I’m sharing our family portrait. What’s your favorite way to capture a fun family moment?
Recently, after a conversation with a friend, that could have been difficult, but wasn’t, my friend and I sent encouraging texts back and forth. “That was some decent adulting, there,” one of us wrote, with a winking emoticon.
So, when I saw this rant on Jezebel, trashing the trend of the hashtag #adulting, on Jezebel, I got a little defensive. Sure, I agree with this writer–there’s evidence that Millenials are so used to being praised for doing shit they’re supposed to do, they have begun to believe they are accomplishing something by meeting basic life responsibilities, on their own.
On the other hand, even a Gen-Xer like myself gets that all this responsibility can be, well, a fucking drag. I mean, sometimes you just want to bust out of the sensible realm and do homework at the smoothie shop.
But I digress.
But what’s the fun of being an adult if you can’t celebrate both your immature and mature decisions? Grocery shopping for more than one day’s worth of food (ok, I have yet to master that one), or figuring out puzzling questions with our siblings about elder care for our parents (trust me, that shit is hard). Or, you know, not going skiing two days in a row, on your knee, that is but 12 weeks recovered from surgery. (“That’s a pretty adult choice you made there,” Jeff remarked when I told him I would take the day off. “I’m glad you arrived at it on your own.” Adults know that there’s no point in having an argument from the losing position.) Truth be told, I’m an equal-opportunity celebrator: I like to do a happy dance on the days that I reject the adult decisions, too.
To wit: A few months ago, I got my kids to bed ahead of schedule—while the more “responsible” adult was out of town. I was happily anticipating his nightly Facetime call, when I would say, “here, let me take the phone to them, in their beds,” and show off my mad clock-using skills. No question, I was trolling for “adult” points. Then, my awesome neighbors called to invite us to a telescope party for the blood moon eclipse, at the base of our driveway, that very minute. I can always count on the indulgent grandparent-neighbors across the street to bring out the playtime in all of us.
So when he dialed us a few minutes into the solar show, I explained what we were doing and said, breezily (without a Monica Geller-style announcement of said “breeziness,” mind you), “We’ll call you when we get inside, in a bit.”
An hour later, the phone rang, again. “Guys, we are SO busted,” I said. (This amused the smaller people to no end.) Then, as I slid the phone to “answer,” I announced to Jeff, “Listen, I’m the FUN parent, obviously.” He laughed and asked me how much “fun” I would be in the morning when the kids were hard to roust from bed. Boom. Just like that, we said goodnight. And that’s the thing: the best adulting happens as a team sport, not as some sort of special-snowflake-style solo accomplishment.
I have a thing about going out the night after a haircut. When hair gets the expert treatment, the hair should greet its public. You know I’m right. It’s not necessarily a date night—I just need to know that I didn’t “waste” the blowout on a night at home. Because, there are good hair days and there are salon days. But, it turns out, the blowout has special powers—more on that in a minute.
Last week, on salon day, Jeff was out of town, so I texted him a Selfie—maybe he could take to dinner a photo of his chatty wife, and get a quiet evening out of the deal? (He sent an enthusiastic, complimentary text, so that was nice.)
Regardless, I had big plans: Seth’s third-grade concert, with Lance as my date. Throughout the afternoon, there were opportunities for the hair to see-and-be-seen. I bumped into two friends—moms of kids in Seth’s third-grade class—at the craft store (don’t ask). They gasped in admiration of hair-magician Bratis’s skills. “I’m going to have the cutest hair at the Third Grade Winter Concert, tonight,” I told them. “Or, you know, you can take up the challenge. Whatever.”
`Then, when I was at school, picking up Seth, the new music teacher complimented my hair. “I did it for the concert,” I said. “It’s the hottest ticket of the year.” Little did I know the truth of that statement.
Fast forward to 6pm. We arrive at the concert. Lance and I kill time taking funny Instagrams.
Then, one of the Michaels Moms appears with a beautiful ‘do—and says she was tempted to go for a blowout, just to show me that she’s got game. “But I decided just to comb it,” she said, with a knowing wink. For the record, it was styled in pretty waves. Comb it, my ass.
Whatever effort went into our hair for the Big Night Out was totally worth it. I’ve been to a million (OK, maybe a dozen or so) elementary school concerts. Children have stood on risers to sing songs about every possible holiday that happens to fall in December. For HOURS. Maybe even months. But this? No kidding, not a single holiday was referenced in the musical numbers about snow and cocoa and spending time with family. The grade was broken up into teams, which rotated through singing, dancing, drumming, bell-ringing.
The students even conducted each other. That’s right, third graders. Layer upon layer of musical education, on display—and tied up with a bow in—wait for it—20 minutes. This music teacher is my hero.
Maybe the good hair day was a good luck charm? I’m just superstitious enough to consider booking a blowout before the next school concert.
My kids know their parents are rules people. After all, we’re forever nagging them to clean their rooms and do their homework. We make our bed (Ok, Jeff does), most days. They eat a variety of healthy foods, provided by us. But our choices for family movie nights may be considered, um, irreverent by some people. I’ve made it clear that we’re not big on policing language (grammar, yes, but not actual language). So, our children can quote a line or two from Trading Places. They’re well-versed in the world of 007. They’ve seen The Martian and Interstellar. And they may or may not have caught a few minutes of Get Shorty before turning to their parents and saying, “Are you sure you want us to watch this?” Which may have been why my younger son was interrogating Nate the venue manager, at the Park City Film Series, while we bought our tickets to see Meet the Patels, last night.
“What’s this movie rated? Is it PG-13?” Seth asked. “Because I am here with my parents, just in case it is. I’ve seen lots of PG-13 movies.” He need not have worried (nor thrown his parents under the bus) as the film is, in fact PG. But, you know, it’s good to have your film-ready bona fides, when you’re 8. (I like the idea that our kids think we’re more lenient than we are—after all, they’re not allowed to watch Homeland with us. That is solidly off-limits.)
FYI, You don’t have to be in town for the Sundance Film Festival to enjoy independent film in Park City. In fact, some might argue that you’ll enjoy it more if you’re simply taking in a film on a weekend evening, as part of the Park City Film Series, purchasing tickets and popcorn (local’s tip: BYO-Bowl for free refills!) just moments before the film starts, with little or no time spent waiting in line. (Yes, I’ve met lots of interesting people while waiting in line for a film at Sundance, but that’s a story for another blog post.) At the PCFS, your ticket also doubles as an entry in an “opportunity drawing,” for a series of door prizes. On this night, a local Indian eatery had donated baskets of naan and chutney, there were gift certificates for pizza and coffee, plus a freshly-baked loaf of Volker’s bread. Which, to our surprise and delight, we won. (Most of it made it home, improbably enough.)
Patels delivered on the promise of a great night out for our group of several families with kids in grades 3-8 (who were pretty stoked to be out on a school night–bonus points in the Irreverent Parents column!).
A documentary co-directed by siblings Ravi Patel (an actor in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Grandfathered) and Geeta Patel (Mouse) , Meet the Patels focuses on Ravi’s quest for love and marriage, within the confines of a modern Indian matchmaking system. It’s highly relatable—and in plumbing the arranged-marriage system of Indian culture, underscores the similarities between many ethnic groups who value marriage within their own cultures. Ravi navigates Indian-specific online dating sites, plus a series of set-ups engineered by his parents using a system called “Biodata,” a collection of dating resumes circulated among Indian-American communities, and a marriage convention—all while wrestling with the fact that he’s fresh off a breakup from the white woman he was secretly dating. (With a few minor tweaks, it could have been a film about the Jewish dating scene—after all, Jeff and I met at one of a series of Jewish camps we both attended, and while the overt message wasn’t ‘find a spouse,’ such controlled environments upped the odds that we would.) With hilariously poignant color-commentary from Ravi and Geeta, plus scenes in which his parents explain the success of their arranged marriage, and interviews with other Indian-American young adults, it provided a unique window into the joys and peculiarities of Indian-American immigrant culture.
The kids were into the fact that the live action scenes were intercut with animated bits of narration and dialogue—segments that served to give Ravi the room to deal with some of the more emotionally-charged conversations, off-camera, and still convey them to the audience. I doubt there was a person in the theater who wasn’t completely charmed by the family–and Ravi’s story.
As a parent, I saw a lot of value in the heartfelt but humorous take on the way cultures grapple with identity and change. Ravi makes a lot of jokes in the movie that, as an actor, he makes up for his parents dashed dreams by playing the doctor he figures they expected him to become. Yet, it’s clear throughout the film that his parents’ American dream for their Indian child is that he be happy in whatever path he chooses.
Later, driving toward home and bedtime, Jeff declared the film “99% appropriate,” and the kids quickly (and accurately) jumped in to identify the 1% moment. Which means, of course, that even with all the positive family messages, the thoughtful pondering of cultural norms, the theatrical absurdity that crept hilariously into Meet the Patels, we’d managed to stay on-point, at least a little, with our irreverence. Thanks, Patels.
I can’t get enough of this video. “Morning Meetings,” was reposted by a fellow parent of public school students/graduates, who was also my houseparent in boarding school. (OK, so perhaps it’s tied with “https://www.youtube.com/embed/p6ZojleXMn4” target=”_blank”>You do NOT understand weddings. At ALL.” because JoJo rules the world,…
“Dang it!” We were doing something, or rather Seth was, and whatever he was doing didn’t go as planned. So, this expression flew out of his mouth. Before too long, it became his go-to; a one-size fits all phrase to express his great disappointment in a moment, an action, a circumstance.
It took me a while to correct him. Finally, when I heard it three times in the course of an hour, the very first hour he was home from summer camp, I said, “Seth, when you use that phrase, it sounds like you don’t know enough words to express how you feel. We know this is not true. Will you please, please use the words you mean, next time? Like: That’s disappointing.”
“Ok, Mom.” I think he was too tired to argue. Or to point out that his parents have been unapologetic about our actual potty mouths, for just about his whole life. To be clear, in our house, there are no “bad words,” but we try to emphasize that there are certain words that cannot and should not be uttered by children in public, and that a person should do his or her level best to be descriptive in conversation. Sometimes, that means my kids’ parents are explaining to one another how few fucks we give about a certain situation. But other times, we just plain say what is on our minds: “That’s annoying. That’s disappointing.” “This is crap!” Ok, that last bit is what we might say when the dogs poop in the house. Anyway, you get the idea.
At bottom, I don’t want my kids using cop-out language. The more specific they are, the better communicators they become, the better understood they are by the world around them, and frankly, the more able they are to process their actual feelings. So, that’s the “why.”
So, last night, we’re at dinner, and Seth loses a tooth. Or he pulled it out, perhaps. Anyway, the tooth that was previously in his mouth was now, along with some blood, in his hand. I wrapped it in some tissues, tucked it into my purse, and sent him off to wash his hands, and rinse his mouth. Which he did. Upon returning home, he asked for the tooth, was presented with a piece of cling wrap in which to encase the tissue-wrapped item, and tucked it under his pillow.
Lance, by now, was goading him about whether the Tooth Fairy is real, and whether it’s actually you know, me. “How will the tooth fairy know to come to the house?” Seth asked. You could tell by the way he asked that he was walking that line between knowing it’s me and wanting to believe it’s a real fairy. Lance says, “Oh, no problem, I’ll send her a text.” I heard this as background to my putting away my shoes, brushing my teeth. And then, I realized I never should have given that kid a phone. Ping! Ping! My iPad and iPhone were competing with each other to tell me I had a text. Let me be clear: I give a fuck about my kid believing in the tooth fairy until he is 40, so this was not ok. Thusly, when my beautiful firstborn child arrived at my side, smirking,
to tell me, “You have a text,” I did what any good mother would do: I flicked him on the forehead, with my finger, while announcing, “I flick you on the forehead!” in a silly accent. Because silly accents make flicking your child’s forehead okay, somehow. No, not really. But I stand by my flicking. Because Tooth Fairy, dammit.
Actually, Seth thought the flicking was so much fun, he kept taunting me: “You’re the tooth fairy!” And then I would flick him. And then I would flick his brother, twice, for not knowing better than to ruin his brother’s (MY) fun. One important detail, here, is that Lance is almost my height. So he thinks he’s almost as powerful as I am. Eventually, he will learn that is never to be. No child is ever more powerful than his or her parent, ever. For now, he thinks it’s a real thing. So he tried to flick me. Seth got in on it. They conspired, without exchanging a single, actual word, in fact, to tackle me onto my bed so they could flick me. Well, no. No. Definitely not happening. “Get out, go away, leave my room!” We’ve just finished a remodel, and there are still odd objects, like mirrors and sculptures propped against walls in my room. We were in a particularly tight corner, and there was a mirror, and I said, “If you don’t leave now, that mirror is going to get broken, and this won’t end well.” So, they started to leave. Because they are not idiots, in actual fact. As evidenced by the ploy Seth attempted: “Mommy,” he said, arranging his features into his “I’ll always be your little baby Sethie” face, “I just want a little hug.”
“Nope, nope, sorry, not now, not happening, I love you, get out.”
And as he walked away, he tossed me a faux sad look and said, “That’s the first time you ever said no to a hug.” And then: “That’s disappointing.”
And then I was so busy doing my happy dance about the fact that he not only skipped the Dang It, but used the little lesson against me in a knowing, ironic zinger, I almost forgot to leave the money under his pillow, and definitely forgot to write the traditional tooth fairy letter that some idiot decided was a good idea when she only had one kid, and no actual idea about how many teeth fall out of a kid’s head during childhood. But that’s another story. Which I promise to tell, later. Sorry if that’s disappointing, but right now, I’m not sure I can find a fuck to give.