by Zach Our two year old boy clung to me, weeping. "It's okay," I said. "I'm going to go on the tobbogan with your sister, okay? You can wait up here with your grandpa." "No!" he said, and held on tighter. "Okay," I said, "alright." His four year old sister was sitting patiently at the front of the toboggan, ready to tip over the edge of the tiny, tiny hill. I tried to think of some way to compromise. "Do you want to sit on my lap?" I suggested, not for a second thinking he'd accept that. "Yeah," he said. He wasn't happy, but apparently preferred to think that at least we would all go to our doom together. I folded my legs and sat him down on my lap, held on tightly, and pushed off. On the way down, he giggled. "Again!" he yelled when we slid to a stop. So we did, again, and again, and again. I had high hopes at the beginning of the winter for tobogganing, but I'm a little embarrassed to say that last weekend was only the second time we'd gone tobogganing. The first time amounted to a kind of warm up, with the girl agreeing to watch me slide down a miniscule hill on the toboggan by myself. She laughed, but didn't particularly want to participate. The boy choose to sit in the stroller, out of the wind, and watch us skeptically. This second round, though, was an enormous success. The girl hopped right on our toboggan that we had bought at a garage sale, probably around five years ago, ready to hurl herself down whatever hill might be closest. Though the boy had been excited when I suggested tobogganing, when he actually saw what it involved, he decided this really was not a good idea after all. However, I think to everyone's relief, he eventually came around and thoroughly enjoyed himself. We were at Patterson Creek, at Bank Street just south of Patterson Avenue. The former creek bed sits a few feet below the level of the surrounding roads, which means that the park area is almost entirely ringed by toboggan hills perfect for the four year old-ish age group. The area is popular, and I've often seen the corner of the park by Patterson Avenue and Bank Street overrun by families and various snow-sliding devices. The large amount of space also means that a four-year old can move restlessly around the edges of the park, picking and choosing new places to slide down. There's plenty of street parking, and the Glebe is just a short ways south for hot chocolates and other snacks to bolster little sledders. Of course, there are loads more hills in Ottawa, and I look forward to dragging the kids to as many as they will tolerate as they get older ... or possibly they'll be the ones dragging me. The city of Ottawa has put together a great list of the hills, which includes details like nearby parking, some of the features of the hills themselves, and potential hazards. What has your experience been with tobogganing in Ottawa? Do you have a favourite hill, especially for a particular age range? When did you start with your kids, and what were their reactions?
Zach is a dad to a four year old girl and two year old boy. He sometimes blogs. He is often blogged about by his wife over at Capital Mom.