A friend, her grandson, my daughter and I went on a ski weekend together. My daughter is almost 9, and her grandson is 12. He has a very hard life–this weekend was, among other things, an attempt to give him a fun time and some connection with us away from the difficulties of home.
He took some ski lessons on the first day, and learned quickly. He was fearless on skis. It was a bit of a problem, actually. On the lifts, he kept wanting to lean over and spit down onto the snow. From 30 feet in the air, I didn’t think it was safe for him to lean out like that, so I kept asking him to sit back. He kept wanting to go down hills that had jumps on them, too, although he was still new at skiing.
So we all had a full first day and a really rousing card game that night, in which the kids won and we adults lost miserably in the midst of lots and lots of laughter. It was really fun.
The next morning, he was saying that he was going to go down the runs with jumps. My friend, his grandma, said, “No, you’re going to go down slopes that you can handle, so you don’t hurt yourself.” That was too much for him. He hung his head, went over to the bed, and curled up silently in fetal position.
My friend and I thought for a moment, “What shall we do?” My daughter went over to him and asked him something like, “How come you went back to bed? Are you sick or something?” but he wouldn’t say a word. He had dug deep into bad feelings.
Then, I said, “Let’s go pull him out!” My friend said, “Really??” and I said, “Sure!” and went over and grabbed one of his ankles and began to drag him across the bed. He began to kick and struggle, but I kept it on the fun side, just kept dragging him and begging him to come with us. He got me back onto the bed, and I started throwing pillows at him, and he began to laugh and get into the pillow fight. At one point, his grandma tried to hang onto him–that was too much, and he began to get upset.
I thought, “No, we aren’t going to be able to handle a big upset right now!” so I got her to let him go, and we kept on pillow fighting and wrestling for a long time–10 or 15 minutes. It was really fun, lots of laughter and good tussling. When I was getting tired, finally, I yelled, “OK, who wants to go SKIING?!” and he and my daughter jumped up, put their fists in the air in a victory V, and said, “We do!” and they hopped into their jackets and boots, did everything they needed to do quickly and cooperatively, and we went off to have another great day.
– a Parenting by Connection parent