[Written by Tom]
Yesterday, I taught Davis, eight years old, from Arizona. First time he’s seen snow. Though this may not seem like a significant detail, because I had left my goggles inside and it had changed from sun to snowstorm in the previous couple hours, I’m wearing dark sunglasses in a snowstorm. Riding up the lift, he looks through the woods and says “I think that’s a fake background up there” and he’s dead serious and tells me that the trees at the top look flat and he thinks they’re just painted on. After we unload and he looks down from the top of the beginner slope, he says he scared. I tell him that I’ll ski backwards in front and if he’s scared, make his nice big wedge that he’s so good at and if he’s real scared, just point at me and give me a hug. We make a turn then he gets scared and gives me a hug and we stop more or less in the middle of the trail, which is completely deserted except for us. Then he says he’s scared again because someone might run into us (Who? We’re literally the only ones on the slope at 3:00pm on Monday). I say “Well, if they get close and it looks like they might hit us, I’ll have to disintegrate them with my Death Ray Vision. That’s why I have to wear these dark glasses even when it’s cloudy out. I don’t want to accidentally hurt anyone.”
As it’s coming out of my mouth I realize that this is perhaps not the most pleasant image for a scared kid, but he saves me by asking “When you blast them do they just reappear at the bottom?”
“Yeah. Down there by the lift.”
So we ski for a bit and he’s getting more relaxed and his mom shows up and wants to ski ahead and take a picture. He tells her that he wishes she would ski all the way down and wait for us at the bottom. Then we start skiing toward her and he stops and he says “I don’t want my mom watching me ski. Can you do that Vision Ray thing on her?”
“Sorry Davis, but it takes a lot of energy out of me to do that. I like to save it for genuine emergencies.”
I also talked to him about climbing and told him that I’ve climbed El Cap and Half Dome and pretty much all the major cliffs in Yosemite Valley. When I told Theresa about it, she imagined him recounting the day to his mom: “Yeah, my instructor was really cool! He’s climbed El Capitan and Half Dome and everything in Yosemite Valley and he has Death Ray Vision.” At least I didn’t tell him about my doctorate since I explain that to kids by saying it’s sort of like staying in school until the 26th grade.