Thanks to more than a foot of snow during an eight-day period, my snowblower and shovel have become closer personal friends to me than I ever desire them to be.
It’s been a nice break this week without the regular fear of snow-covered roads and the looming notion that I would have to face the elements and clear my driveway. Even though I live in the Midwest and haven’t lived outside of a two-state area during my life, cold weather isn’t my favorite welcoming sign when leaving my home.
While my perspective of snow and cold weather may not be so rosy, my children didn’t mind the regular snowflakes cascading in the area last week. And it opened my eyes once again to how much older they have gotten.
Unfortunately for my youngest, he was battling the flu last week, so he missed out on most of the snow fun. Since my last column, where I jinxed my family, all three of my children have succumbed to the ailment. The flu has been nasty this year, and especially dangerous, so we’re thankful our children were relatively unaffected, other than a few days of more rest than we’re accustomed to seeing in our home.
While my youngest was mending his body inside, my older two children were putting their best foot forward outside in making sure they wouldn’t miss a moment of our week with snow.
After the first bit of snow came, my children were insistent on experiencing all the wonders the fluffy stuff can provide. I know the feeling. Throwing snowballs, creating snowmen, building forts, sledding and even shoveling the sidewalk and driveway are all things I remember fondly from my childhood.
So when we told them it was too late for them to play on the first signs of snow on Feb. 4, it was devastating...until the sun rose the next morning, and my oldest son was next to my bed, fully dressed, with snow pants, coat, hat, gloves and boots.
If you’ve ever been with my son on mornings that he has school, then you would realize what kind of a miracle happened that day. Maybe this is an overall child thing, but before this occurred, I thought he was allergic to getting dressed. I had no other way to explain why he, along with his older sister, could not understand that every school day followed the exact same pattern, and that required that age-old, societal norm of wearing clothes to school, rather than pajamas.
There I was, witnessing a miracle, so I couldn’t say no to his request. And to my surprise, he wasn’t attacking the hills with his sled or building an assortment of snowballs for later use on his sister.
Instead, he was chipping away at the driveway, attempting to clear our way for the upcoming trip to school. Naturally, that opened up the possibilities for how I was going to avoid throwing out my back this winter.
Why have children if you can’t use them for labor around the house?
For the remainder of the week, when I fired up the snowblower, my oldest two were out with me. Some days, they got more bored than others, focusing more on fort-building or sledding than actually pitching in to assist with the majority of the driveway.
Thankfully, they were pretty consistent with at least doing the sidewalk, so that alleviated some of the time needed to complete the entire job.
In the past, my children would “help” around the house, but that “help” would actually be more of a hindrance than an assist. Now, I can definitely say they aided in my household chore.
They were so passionate about this newfound task, they walked to the neighbors’ house, shoveled some of their driveway and actually made a few bucks along the way. They learned hard work and capitalism all in a week’s time. I call that a productive week.
The possibilities are endless now, especially with the busy spring and summer season nearing. I can see it now ... I’m catching a few rays in the sun, with an ice-cold beverage in my hand, watching my children get on their hands and knees, weeding my yard, while also pushing the lawnmower for those hard-to-reach spots that hide from the riding lawnmower. Maybe they’ll even plant a few flowers and plants along the way, sprucing up the yard for the summer time.
Don’t all 4 and 7 year-olds do exactly what their parents tell them when it comes to outdoor chores? A guy can dream, can’t he?
Scott Levine is the Associate Editor of the Clinton Herald. He can be reached at email@example.com.