Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Snow Day - By Cara Potapshyn Meyers

I loved Snow Days when I was a child! I would bundle up and first help my parents shovel our 125-foot driveway, curved uphill (what were they thinking when they bought that house??!). There were no plow services where we lived, some 30 odd years ago. But once that was taken care of (2 or more hours later, followed by a large mug of hot chocolate!), I would take my old fashioned, wooden toboggan and head to our local golf course, 3 houses down the road! What incredible fun it was for the local community to bring their sleds and swish down the hills into the powdery snow!

On other days, I would build a snowman on our front yard! I became so good at making them that passerbys in cars or sleds would stop to admire them! There were also snow angels to make and later, in my teens, learning to ski.

Besides the shoveling, however, I could never understand why my parents grumbled so much about the snow. Now, as an adult, I totally understand.

Here in the Northeast, we have had 3 blizzards within one month. Twice I had to stay up all night, when the snowfall was the heaviest, to shovel our back porch, steps and make a doggie alcove for our dogs to use. I was out there every 2 hours, for a half hour at a time. I was awake for 30+ hours during and after this past storm. And I actually measured 13 inches of snowfall with a yardstick at 4 am!

I am DONE with snow for the season now! Maybe forever! NOW I understand why my parents grumbled whenever a big storm came through!

Just pulling my car out of the garage is nearly impossible. There is a fence on one side and our house on the other, with 6-foot high piles of snow pressed up against the sides of the fence and house! My small size SUV barely squeezes through this snow tunnel!

Forget food shopping for lots of groceries. Try pushing a loaded grocery cart through slushy snow only to get home and find you have to very carefully unload these bags and pray that you won’t fall and brake something, because 5 people you already know have broken something by slipping on the ice. And they were all your age or younger!

Well, rather bore you with a whole laundry list of why adults all hate the snow, I decided to have you recollect once again, through a child’s eyes, the wonders of son’s!

During the day before last week’s Blizzard, we had gotten a call that there would be a two-hour delay for the district schools the following day. As I was shoveling another 8 inches of snow off of my back steps at 2 am, I couldn’t help but think, “This school superintendent should be out here shoveling with me! Two-hour delay my...foot! These kids can’t go to school tomorrow!!” Sure enough, two hours into a scant sleep, the call came: Snow Day!

The first thing my son said as he ran to the window and saw mounds of snow was, “Mommy? I have to go to school in all that snow?” I replied that, no, he had a Snow Day and would not be going to school. He excitedly shouted, “Yes!” then proceeded to lounge around trying to decide how to spend this glorious day. What I found most interesting is how in a matter of two elementary grades in school, my son has learned from his peers how valuable a Snow Day could really be! Last year he would mumble, “OK,” and not fully take in the value of this type of day. Now he had become socialized to the almighty, “Snow Day!” Cute to note how their school environment begins to permeate them!

“Um...Mommy? Where is the Igloo building kit you bought me?” Now why did I decide to purchase something that would ultimately drag me out of my warm and comfy home and smack-dab into a pile of white stuff that I had been trying to get rid of the night before?? Oh yeah, to provide fun and excitement for my son on a Snow Day. Right. “I think it’s in the garage, Sweetie...” hoping he would choose to lounge a little more before venturing out into the stuff I spent the night in. “Okay, Mommy! Let’s get dressed and make a Snow Fort! I want to make a fort rather than an Igloo!” Thank goodness my husband was listening to this conversation and said that he would take my son out since he knew I had been up all night shoveling. At least he still has a shred of compassion.

Out they went, bundled and full of the excitement I remembered as a child! My son worked on that Snow Fort as if he were building another Fort Knox! Even when he complained that his fingers were cold, he still wanted to continue. (Note: tenacious is definitely part of his personality! Both positive and negative for him, as far as traits go!). Once finished, he then wanted to make a snowman, but my husband convinced him to come inside the house to warm up first.

A little over an hour later, lounge time over, he came looking for me again. “Um, Mommy? Can we build a snowman now?” Now where is my dang husband when you need him? Never around. Okay, quick thinking...”Daddy said he would build the snowman with you (I did hear him say that to my son, whether in jest or not. I had to track this man down...). Let me call him and find out when he can build it with you.

I called. My husband grumbled, I reminded him that I was up all night shoveling so that our dogs could go out, he relented. “Daddy said he would be here soon. Why don’t we have a snack to give you energy to build that big snowman!” (Good thinking, Mom! Food! Food to eat for a purpose! Nice going!) I had him eating very slow-to-chew foods, such as apples, so that I could give my “missing in action” husband time to make it home.

To my immense relief, husband made it home just as my son and I were picking out fresh snow pants, gloves, and boots, as the first set was soaked. Good time to start a load of laundry. Out the door they went to make Mr. Snowman! However Mommy seemed to be missing some key elements: buttons for eyes, mouth, and belly; long carrot for his nose (see shopping disaster above); and an old scarf and hat (didn’t we have them available last year??). We improvised (see photo). Mr. Snowman was completed and my son’s Snow Day goals had been fulfilled!

I realized at the end of the day that becoming a parent brings about, practically overnight, a complex absurdity as to how time and situations differ from a child’s versus a parent’s perspectives. The most important entity that fuels our day - time - is so dramatically altered the second one begins to raise a child. Once upon a time, an hour was 60 minutes long, and time was fixed and predictable. But now, all time proportions have changed, due to a child’s world. And what brings joy and excitement to a youngster slowly becomes an obsticle and an extreme hassle once you become an adult.

People are constantly telling me that my son is going to be grown up in a blink of an eye. On a day-to-day basis, it is hard for me to internalize that “growth.” It just happens without my even being aware of it. All I can tell you is that now a “Snow Day” has so much more grand significance in my son’s life! And he can also build one awesome Snow Fort...all on his own!

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