Helicopter Grandparent: My #DeerValleyMoment

Don’t be a helicopter parent. I know. I know.


Especially in ski lessons, parents (and grandparents) best serve their children by leaving them with their capable instructor and getting out of the way. At Deer Valley, a great place for the family to hang out is on the Snow Park Lodge balcony overlooking the Wide West run rather than hanging out on the run itself. Hovering is best reserved for aircrafts, not for a six-year-old’s ski lesson.

Seriously, I wasn’t planning on getting right in the mix of her ski lessons. It just happened … and it was the best experience of my 2015-16 ski season by far.

I was out of the way. I was skiing down Success ski run and took the top of Little Kate. When I stopped at the middle of the ski run, I thought, “Hmm… Norah is in her lesson so I’ll just ski over to the Snowflake chairlift. I wonder if she is there with her Reindeer Club?”

Just a quick peek to see how they were doing. There should be no harm in that right? Were they taking the chairlift yet? This was day two, were they still on the magic carpet? I was curious.

I figured she wouldn’t recognize me anyway. Since I dropped her off in the morning, she hadn’t seen my jacket or my helmet. I wore goggles so technically I was in disguise.

As fate would have it, I ended up right in front of her in line for the chairlift!

As I waited in line her group just happened to ski up behind me. With a group of four girls, the instructor was waiting for reinforcements. (other instructors to take the girls on the chairlift) Standing right there, I quietly offered to go up with Norah, mentioning that I was her grandmother (which was the golden ticket to ride with her).

Norah acted completely nonplussed that I was there. I actually wondered if she even recognized me. I did just introduce myself to her instructor and said out loud that I was her grandmother. Norah didn’t say a word. No smile. No acknowledgment. Nothing.

The day before she was SO worried she’d have ride the BIG LIFT. Now she was doing it and with ME! She acted like she did this every day of the year and it was no big deal.

On the chairlift, with a directive monotone, she gave me all the instructions I would need on how she was going to disembark with my help. After doing so, as her instructor followed with more girls a few chairs back, Norah smiled and waved at her (ignoring me). She agreed to a quick selfie with me before she went off to join her group once they were all there. As she skied off, she gave me a tiny little wave goodbye.

Humph. I thought. Oh well. No big deal, I guess.

Later that night, I heard her tell her parents. “I GOT TO RIDE THE LIFT WITH NONI !!!!!”

She went on and on in an excited tone all about how she didn’t recognize me and there I was right in front of her. She got to ride with me on the BIG LIFT and how she skied right off. She didn’t fall and we took a picture together.


“Show them the picture, Noni,” she urged.

I guess it was a bigger deal to her that she let on at the time.

What I learned about my granddaughter that day was… don’t mess with her when she has her game face on. Learning to ski is serious business so we need to stay focused. We celebrate later.

Celebrate we did.

I’ll always treasure my #DeerValleyMoment with Norah on the Snowflake chairlift on her second day on the slopes and the photo to remember it.

I know I am not supposed to hover during ski lessons. Like I said, I didn’t mean to.

At the same time, I was so grateful that fate put me in the right place at the right time to make a precious memory with a little girl whom I love so much. I can’t wait to ski with her next year and create our next #DeerValleyMoment.

3 Responses

  1. Summer says:

    Ack!!! I’m crying!!! I can picture the moment when you met up on the chair lift. Those little skiers are so cute and I love seeing them whoosh down the mountain!!! Deer Valley has an amazing kids program and we were so grateful for the experience!!!
    PS Grandparents are the best!!!

  2. Deer Valley says:

    Thanks for the sweet comment Summer!

  3. […] Nancy L. Anderson, CFP is a financial planner in Park City, Utah.  You can find her on Facebook and Twitter as well on  her Forbes.com  contributor site and the Official blog of Deer Valley Ski Resort. […]

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