It's not only the cost of skiing weighing on my mind. I worry that my children won't appreciate how lucky they are to get to ski at such a young age. At age three, Munchkin still has another year before she's allowed on the slopes, but I didn't take a lesson until I was in my late 20s and have only been skiing a handful of times since. And what about Monkey's soccer lessons and Munchkin's gymnastics classes? They are also additional perks of comfortable living that merit some extra thought and appreciation. We, as a family, are lucky to have a warm home, a functioning car, free schooling and plenty of clothes and books to go around. I see these other activities as special: they are opportunities to do really fun things that not all kids get to do and my husband and I didn't get to do at this age. Sure I took a year of gymnastics at age 12, but I paid my way through a year of acrobatics in high school. When I look around at parents here, and even in my previous urban life, a majority of kids do the same activities as my kids and more: hockey, piano, swimming. When we are surrounded by so many families doing a multitude of activities, how do I show my kids that this is a gift of opportunity and availability? I don't want to keep my children from doing extracurriculars if they're interested in them, but I guess my guilt lies partially in the fact that even though we can afford certain lessons or a day of skiing, it still feels like a lot of money. Even accounting for inflation and the 35 years since I was Monkey's age, $100 still feels like a lot of money.
Interestingly I am more comfortable with our bi-annual trips to India, which I know are a luxury we are fortunate to afford, because I see them as a familial obligation that is non-negotiable. Our children have to know their grandparents, aunts and uncles and they have to know India. The cost of that knowledge is a plane ticket. What, in the end, is the cost in knowledge of forgoing ski trips, future gymnastics meets and music recitals? Where does giving kids opportunities become a luxury vs a family tradition vs necessity?
I haven't figured out exactly how to teach the kids to value the lessons they are getting on the slopes. I will tell them that neither their Dad nor I got to do such things, though we did do plenty of other fun things. As my children learn the value of money, I can also teach them how much these things cost and how hard both my husband and I work to afford them. Instead of comparing my childhood to my children's and feeling guilty for the extras I can provide them, I think the key may be to acknowledge the good fortune I had as a child as well as the good fortune my children have at home, on the playing field, and, this Saturday, on the slopes.