April 11, 2024
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April 11, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

It All Goes Downhill From Here

If you have boys, at some point they’re going to break some bones. I mean girls break their bones too, but not really more than adults, I don’t think. Boys are more likely, when you ask, “How did that happen?” for them to tell you an activity that was not super necessary in the first place. The kind of activity that when you consider doing it yourself, you say, “Nah, I don’t really have time for a broken arm today.”

For example, just yesterday, my son broke his arm skiing. He wanted to go skiing with some guys in his yeshiva, and he actually asked us to pay for it and we said no, the reason being that we ourselves have never been skiing nor have any of our other kids, so we’re not going to pay for him to do something that all our other kids are going to say, “How come you’re paying for him to do it?” and then they’ll want to do it too. We’re going to decide when we do something like this—we’re not going to let it get determined by one kid’s yeshiva. So the agreement was that he would somehow cover the cost of skiing and we would pay for any medical bills that would result.

“So how did it happen?” I wanted to know. On one level, that’s a dumb question. But it makes me feel better to hear a story. Just something so I can say, “Wait, stop. That part. Don’t do that part again.”

He said, “I fell.” That’s very informative. Yeah, obviously you fell. You don’t break your arm skiing without falling. You’re just skiing along and your arm breaks from the wind resistance.

I suppose you could hit a tree. But I think they clear the trees out of the path that you’re supposed to ski on. So in that case, maybe the story is at least that you veered off the path and onto another mountain and then hit a tree. Statistically, it’s more likely that you fell. Or you were on the Bunny Slope and you tripped over a bunny.

Unless that’s what the more advanced slopes are—they’re the ones that they don’t bother to remove the trees. I always thought they just started higher up the mountain.

He did eventually tell me more of a story: “I was trying to slow down so I wouldn’t get airtime. Because the first time I went down, I got a second of airtime, and it was terrifying.”

Don’t look at me. I don’t even know how you get airtime on a ski slope. Is there a part where you’re skiing uphill? Is that what the Bunny Slopes are? Just uphill?

Actually, I always pictured a Bunny Slope as being basically flat, and you mostly have to walk and push yourself with the poles. Like you can technically open up a Bunny Slope in the inner city. Whereas a Black Diamond Slope you have to have way out somewhere where there are a decent number of unexpected cliffs. Where you have to jump over the highway.

Again, I’ve never seen a ski slope in real life, except on summer vacations, so it’s all hearsay. I feel like if I ever go skiing and get airtime, I would break several bones. Not even all of them would be mine.

But my son tells me that the rating system is more about the hazards on the slope, so now I’m thinking it actually sounds like it’s not hard to open a Black Diamond Slope. It doesn’t sound like you need to do any maintenance ever. Don’t cut down the trees, don’t smooth down the snow, leave the cliffs and the fallen skiiers, maybe put up a few medical shacks in the middle of the slope… Like people go, “SPLAT!” against the outside of the shack, and the doctors just have to run outside and bring them in. In fact, maybe they don’t even have to run outside—maybe on that side of the shack there should just be a big plate-glass window that they keep replacing.

Anyway, this might be the inner parent in me talking, but skiing is already paying money to fall down a mountain. Your goal is to fall correctly so you don’t break your arm. That is the entire challenge of the game. But it’s just a matter of time until you fall wrong. I don’t know anybody who’s ever been skiing that has never fallen wrong. You know how when you go outside your house and there’s snow, you have to make sure not to slip? Skiing is like you’re going to slip on purpose—we’re going to give you big slippery things to put under your feet—and also we’re going to take you to an incline so that if you do slip, it will be for miles. It’s like you know how when you wax a floor, everyone takes their shoes off and runs and sees how far they can slide? Imagine your dining room was at a 45-degree angle and also a mile long. And ended on a highway.

But okay, so maybe I’m being overly dramatic here. You don’t necessarily break your arm. For example, most of my son’s yeshiva went skiing, and only two kids broke their arms.

Basically, if you go on a ski trip with a group, statistically someone will break something. That’s why you want your kid to go skiing with friends. If you take your family, no matter who it happens to, you’ll end up in the emergency room.

And I don’t want to be the type of parent who tells him that I told him so, despite this being one of the unadvertised perks of parenting teenagers. If he breaks his arm, you told him so, and it’s a teachable moment; and if he doesn’t break his arm, no harm no foul. So it’s win-win! Let your kid go skiing!

Just don’t forget to say extra Tehillim that day. And with more kavana than everyone else’s parents. Because it has to be someone.


Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He has also published eight books and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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