There is no greater lesson sledding: It takes 90 percent of your energy to walk back up the hill.

There is no greater lesson sledding will teach you about life than the fact it takes 80 percent of the time and 90 percent of your energy to walk back up the hill.

The rest is spent sledding and sitting in the snow pleading for death.

Unless you're a 3-year-old, in which case you get your dad to pull you up the hill.

There's hard breathing, and then there's the way you feel mid-climb. It's like your heart is going to explode out of your chest, and all you can do is stay still, try to catch your breath and hope no one hits you with a snowball.

"I can't go anymore," I said as I dropped in the snow. Two poorly packed snowballs hit me.

This is the part of sledding I always forget about. My daughters and I made snow angels and looked up at the blue sky. And we watched our sled start to glide down the hill on its own. At the last second, I pinned the sled rope with my boot.

"That would have stunk," my daughter said in a faint breath.

I like to do activities with my kids that are fun and require a lot of energy. My goal is to wear them out before they can wear me out. And it's a golden strategy on sledding days.

When we left the house, my daughter wanted no part of her person exposed to the bitter cold outside. But 30 minutes later, out of breath and stuck on a hill, her belly was hanging out.

"It's so hot," my 6-year-old said. "Can I take my coat off?"

"You were freezing a minute ago," I replied. "Keep it on."

She zipped her coat back up. "Well, can you at least pull me the rest of the way?" she asked.

"You're getting older now," I told her, "and that means you're doing more grown-up things. ... Like walking back up the hill after you sled down."

She stuck out her bottom lip, and we both agreed growing up was hard.

"You ready to climb up?" I asked my 3-year-old. Without a word, she rolled over a few times in the snow and right onto the sled.

When we first got to our sledding spot, I lined up our neon green sled at the edge of the most gnarly hill. Neither of my girls wanted to go down, but I coaxed my 3-year-old into the sled with an easy going, "Trust me, it'll be fun."

The snow packed hard in a way where snowballs wouldn't break on the first throw. And it made for fast sledding.

She screamed the whole way down. At the bottom she declared, "I will never sled with you ever again!"

She crossed her arms and looked mad. I pleaded for forgiveness and offered to pull her back up the hill.

"No," she said.

"How about if I let you hit me with a snowball?" I added.

"Two," she replied.

Near the end, she was so tired, when she got hit in the face with a snowball, she didn't even flinch. I just wiped her face off, and her sister apologized. She didn't care.

"Home," she directed from the sled with a finger in the air.

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