After some chatting with my wife, we had the idea to take our eldest son to the snow for a skiing trip. When I say we, my wife meant me. “Brilliant!” I thought to myself. I’d love to go snow skiing again as I haven’t done it for years. And I’d get to see my son learn to ski or snowboard for the first time. You beauty!
My son seemed keen enough, so we made a plan. A boys trip… father and son off to the snow for some skiing or boarding and some good ol’ Clark Griswald Vacation movie style father son chats. “Good talk Rusty”… “Thanks Dad”.
We decided on a location in Tasmania, given my sister lived close by and it would be an easy trip up to the snow for the day from her place. Our timing also coincided beautifully with my sister’s birthday so a great way to kill two birds with one stone. And best of all, I’d get to strap on the skis again and feel the exhilaration of zooming down a mountain.
Since it was largely my wife’s idea in the first place, I had no trouble getting her support for the ‘boys trip’. She fully embraced the idea.
My eldest son loved the concept and it was easy to get him excited about the trip… that was until reality hit. Uh oh.
Time away from his mum and younger brother suddenly lacked appeal. Despite the daily battles with his brother over toys or attention, he is really quite fond of him, so he didn’t like the thought of leaving him for a few days. Then a second reality dawned on him. Snow is really cold and wet. Having been born and raised in a place where winter doesn’t really exist, why would anyone in their right mind go somewhere cold? The idea was foreign to him.
But after a little encouragement, he could see how an adventure long weekend away with Dad could be great fun. My wife and I highlighted all the positives and we reminded him it was only for a few days and he’d have the opportunity to throw as many snowballs at me as he wanted. Knowing his love for speed and his competitive streak, I shared some of my previous snow experiences and told him how skiing is so much fun and you can go really fast and do cool turns and race other people down to the bottom.
My youngest son overheard the plans and naturally assumed any family fun would include him. As a team my wife and I delicately informed him that he wouldn’t be coming. We focussed his attentions on a free run of the house, without any restrictions enforced upon him by his big brother who often interrupted his games or became possessive if his little brother wanted to play with one of his toys. After a bit of persuasion we convinced him he’d have a great time too.
Running a seven day a week retail business rarely lends itself to having a weekend off. But that’s exactly what I asked of my sister. With plenty of advanced warning she was able to make the necessary staffing arrangements and make herself available.
So I booked the flights, arranged accommodation with my sister, pulled out the winter woollies that had been tucked away in my drawer for the past ten years and packed our bags.
After making all the arrangements there was one thing that failed us… the snow. There wasn’t any. Well, a bit but not much. Certainly not enough to warrant any skis, snowboards or toboggans. This wasn’t a complete surprise because we’d been checking the forecasts in the weeks prior to going, but all indications were that there would be snow by the time of our trip as in previous seasons. Nope.
But with hope in our hearts and curious minds, we flew interstate anyway and drove up the mountain to take a look in case miracle occurred. I was so disappointed when we arrived. We got out of the car and as the fog cleared saw a rocks, small green bushes, motionless ski lifts with just a few white patches of snow dotted across the face of the mountain.
A miracle hadn’t occurred. There was no overnight dump of fresh snow covering the mountain. Rather, warmer weather had melted most of what little snow there was.
But as I looked down at my son, ready to apologise for a wasted trip, I saw a look of delight in his eyes. “Look Dad, there’s snow… c’mon let’s go see”.
It’s not about me
For the next two hours we threw snowballs at one another, slid a few metres down one of the longer patches of snow we found, rolled tiny rocks across frozen pools of water and tramped across the mountain face. All the while, my son was smiling, laughing and having a blast. My concern that we’d wasted a lot of money and time on a folly of my making disappeared. Although I would love to have been skiing down the slopes, or attempting snowboarding for the first time, this trip was not about me. It was about a little boy on his first “boys trip” and experiencing snow for the first time.
After getting into warm, dry clothes and jumping into the car to head back down the mountain (I won’t go into the story of the flat battery!), I asked my son, “so what did you think?”
This sojourn into the beautiful Tasmanian wilderness reminded me that we all see things from different perspectives. I initially planned a ski trip and was gutted when I realised that this was not going to happen. And yet my son’s expectations were different. I later realised he just wanted to spend some time with his dad and his auntie (who spoils him rotten) and muck around in the snow for a bit. And that’s exactly what he got. So he was delighted with the experience and has since told his classmates how “totally awesomebly” it was.
I must admit, I too got much more from this trip than I expected. The look of happiness on my son’s face in that moment when he saw the snow made it entirely worth it.
In the work environment I deal with candidates seeking employment, managers navigating their way through business and my team spread across various locations. This father son trip has reminded me to constantly put myself in the shoes of others and see things from their perspective.
It’s not all about me.
Ben Walsh – General Manager – Recruitment