Saturday, March 3, 2012

Sledding Day

Last year, Sledding Day was at the beginning of February, and it was a relatively warm day. This year, Sledding Day was planned for the beginning of February, but it was very cold. The day kept being put off, until finally we realized we had to do it before the snow melted!

Okay, I know, we do have a full month before the snow melts, but it is already getting unseasonably warm--up to 0 degrees this weekend! There's mush outside already!

So Sledding Day was on the 2nd of March, which also was Pajama Day. We stressed repeatedly to the children that, yes, they could wear pajamas to school, but they also had to dress appropriately for sledding!

It was another "warm" day, meaning about -10º Celsius (14º F) and sunny with mild wind. Like last year, we took school vans plus parents' and drivers' cars. Unlike last year, the high schoolers were going to go. But then the principal learned that many high schoolers were simply planning on skipping Sledding Day and going home--so she canceled Sledding Day for the older kids and made them attend classes.

This year, we went to the riverbank by the Radisson Hotel. This super-fancy hotel had agreed to let us use their bathrooms if needed (I am surprised!) In the end, no one used them, but still quite nice!

On the riverbank here, someone has made a huge ice-slide, with even ice-bricks on it sides. This seems super-fast and slightly dangerous to me. On the weekends, it is quite popular.

Due to the nature of this kind of slide, we had to be organized--the older kids (4th - 6th grade) went further down to another similar slide. I stayed with the younger kids. A teacher and a few parents stood at the bottom of the slide to keep an eye on kids coming down. Another teacher and I stayed at the top--the teacher would give the kids the "all clear" to go down, one at a time, while I helped them form a line.

The kindergarten teacher helped the younger kids hop the fence that separates the walkway from the river's steep embankment. This area is covered in snow, not ice, and is a much safer place to sled!

It was fun, and the kids had a blast. They went down on sleds as well as without, screaming and squealing all the way down, on their faces expressions of sheer delight.

It wasn't all fun and safe, though. As one kid went zooming down the slide, a snow-mobile plowed fast across the river. The kid kept on going after the slide ending, sliding across the river, and he barely missed being hit by the snow-mobile. There were two snow-mobiles racing across the river; someone went to talk to them but that didn't stop them!

I didn't notice that last year; but about a month or two ago, I went with Sophia and my friend and her daughter to sled at the river. It was super-crowded with kids trying to slide; and snow-mobiles raced across the frozen river. Not safe!

Luckily, the teacher and parents at the bottom kept eyes out for the snow-mobiles, and we stayed safe. No more kids went down when snow-mobiles were nearby!

I went down twice. The first time, I realized just how fast it was, and I screamed the whole time down. The force or something dislodged my contact lens and I panicked (considering my contacts are hard contacts and about $100 each!) Luckily, it had just shifted in my eye and soon came back in place.

Towards the end of our 2 hours, the older kids came back to us. I talked to my notoriously shy student, a 9-year old Korean boy. Earlier, I had talked to his sister, asked if he even wanted to come to Sledding Day. She assured me that he did. Now I asked him how many times he had sledded. None!! He'd been too shy to try!

Now, if I hadn't been sure that he actually wanted to try sledding (from my earlier conversation with his sister), I never would have done what I did--I forced him to go down the slide with me. The slide has two sides, and one is shorter. If you go down without a sled, you go more slowly, and so we did the short side without a sled. I held his hand and down we went!

It was so fast!! I guess I'm just a scaredy-cat! As I neared the bottom (after letting go of the boy's hand), I suddenly realized that a 5-year-old was at the bottom. (Where the slide ends, there's about a foot-tall "wall" of hard-packed snow, since the snow had to be cleared to make the ice-slide. Which means if I rammed into him, I'd be ramming him into that snow--not good!) Thinking quickly, I managed to pick him up and carry him, so we crashed into the snow together. He laughed and seemed to think this was great fun. Crisis averted!

Later, I asked the shy Korean boy what he thought about sledding--he admitted it was a bit scary. I told his sister that they should try to go sledding sometime, but maybe not at the ice-slide. (By the way, she thanked me for going down the slide with him that one time.)

Our last near-crisis was when a 5-year old girl went down the super-fast slide. Her mother had asked her teacher to make sure she didn't do anything like that, but this was near the end, and her teacher much have been looking elsewhere. The teacher helping the kids go down the ice-slide was a bit wary of letting her go down, but let her go down. I was at the bottom when this happened--she flipped. I thought she hit her head, but in the end she just hit her bottom and was more scared than hurt. I was quite terrified until I learned that she hadn't hit her head.

So, no real crises, no one really hurt, and no temper tantrums or crying fits. The kids all seemed to really enjoy themselves. (And Sophia did get hot and take off her coat. I wish I'd taken a picture--she was wear her short-sleeved nightgown underneath her snow-pant overalls!!) Although next year, I think we'll try to find someplace that doesn't have fancy ice-slides. A good, old-fashioned snowy hill is good enough for me!

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