No other type of weather produces such mixed emotions as snow. Its beautiful when we watch it fall from the warmth of our homes, but quite terrible to be out in it. I personally feel that outdoor winter sports are for crazy people and Norwegians. If you’re a crazy Norwegian you’re a shoe in to be an Olympic cross country skier. Kids love it when there is enough snow to cancel school, and parents hate it for the very same reason. Shoveling snow is a necessary evil of home ownership, like lawn maintenance or making small talk with your neighbors when you go out to check your mailboxes at the same time.
But where adults see a chore, kids see an opportunity to go out and play in the snow. After you’ve taken a half hour to get a child into their snow clothes, they are ready to come outside and “help”, and will inevitably go through these three phases.
Phase One: This Is Amazing!
Pure excitement. The snow must be ran through, it must be thrown, it must be tasted. Just in case the snow over on the other side of the yard is any different, that snow must be checked out as well. If there’s been enough snow and wind for a drift to form – that must be scaled as if it were Everest. A footprint sighting? Those must be followed, and it certainly doesn’t matter that they are their own.
Watching my kids play around in the snow I am reminded of the pure joy of being a kid. Is it annoying to wait for my daughter while she marvels at the tire tracks in the driveway? Absolutely. But I realized that this is only the second winter she really remembers. It is amazing to her. We’ll see how she feels after thirty or so more, but for now, it is delightful. Except for the fact that she can’t wear flip-flops or jelly shoes. Winter footwear are not really my kid’s style preference. Plus, so much snow to eat.
Phase Two: Actually Helping
You’ll have to pay close attention during this phase, because if you look away for a second you may miss it. Not that I expect a small child to do much of the work of shoveling snow, but it would be nice if they didn’t actually make it harder. Tiny shovel fulls of snow inevitably get flung where I’ve already shoveled or in my face. Occasionally somebody will plop down to play directly in my snow removal path.
Sometimes somebody will want to help get the snow off my truck. Not that I don’t appreciate having the snow cleared off for me, but I’d rather not have my truck bludgeoned by a miniature snow shovel. Just like in the summer when they wanted to wash my truck with the rag they just used to wash away some sidewalk chalk. Thanks so much for the help, but please don’t ever do that.
However, there is a small window of time where at least of few shovels worth of snow will be scooped up and removed. This window closes fast and without warning.
Phase Three: I Want To Go Inside
There is no build up to this final phase. A switch if flipped and they immediately want to go inside. My kids have literally dropped a shovel full of snow right in the middle of the drive way and went back inside. Hey, I get it. If I had the choice between the cold outside with snow and ice and the warm inside with hot chocolate and marshmallows, I would never leave the house. However, a job must be done. Snow must be pushed from here to there in the name of responsible citizenship.
The kids have the luxury of being able to give up and go inside with the excuse of “I’m cold.” My kids aren’t to the age yet where sucking it up is an appropriate strategy for dealing with the elements. That will be a fun developmental milestone for them to reach (for me anyway), but for now the avoidance of discomfort is acceptable. Plus, so much hot chocolate to drink.
But my hot chocolate must wait. The kids can go inside and warm up and I’m left alone outside. Just me and my shovel. The only other sounds the sweep of easy wind and downy flake. The driveway is lovely, steep, and deep, but I have promises to keep. And miles to go before I sleep. Miles to go before I sleep.
Ok well maybe not miles, but we do have a corner lot. So much sidewalk.