How to prevent an avalanche


They told us we would hike to the restaurant serving breakfast at half-past eight in the morning. I woke ready for the warmth of the dining hall and a cup of anything with caffeine. We packed our bags and prepared to meet the guide for the ten minute hike in freshly fallen snow. Our group stood at the meeting point, dressed in colorful ski gear set against an all-white backdrop. They all stared off in the same direction, and I couldn’t imagine what could be more fascinating than getting a move on. I have low blood sugar issues, so my people tell me. These “issues’ might also be classified as early morning issues or hormonal issues or lack of self of control issues. Whatever. Suffice it to say, I wasn’t interested in standing around staring at an overcast sky.

I joined the crowd outside, and followed their gaze to the mountains on our left. They stood with a sense of expectation, and the guide came up behind me to say Do you know why we wait? I shook my head and a huge boom sounded as he said Avalanche. Another crack split the silence and echoed into the valley. Apparently, people who know about such things deemed this new accumulation of powder a safety hazard. And they set about correcting this hazard, by firing off a series of controlled explosions in various locations.

Each blast reverberated in my chest, as it threw up clouds of snow near the peak of the mountain. I tried to imagine what it would be like without this disaster prevention, if a tidal wave of snowflakes crashed down the mountain and took us unaware. I couldn’t fathom the damage, the fear, the full-out run–any attempt to avoid the inevitable.


Lately, M and I have engaged in parental disaster prevention. We set off some blasts, knowing full well the fallout of engaging in hard-core parenting. Consequences look a lot like an avalanche to a kid. So does the word No. Discipline is the highest explosive in our arsenal. But, after the boom, after the noise settles down in my chest, I know what we’re seeking to avoid. I know we only hope to head off an avalanche of epic proportions, such as raising future Reality Show stars, and that can’t be done by sitting around and admiring the way the sun reflects off the snow. So, we correct. We prepare. We set off an explosion or two and watch the tears and the fussing and the that’s not fair‘s cloud up a portion of our sky. And we trust it will do its job. Disaster prevention at its finest.

How do you feel about this aspect of parenting? Is it difficult for you too? Have you found any effective disaster prevention techniques? If so, please share with the rest of us who might be two steps away from considering duct tape and/or military school as appropriate means of discipline.