It’s finally Snow Season in Baltimore. We rarely get much snow in December, despite the start of winter, but do enjoy a few healthy dumpings of powder through out January and February. By March, it had better be over because every one has their eyes set on Spring, and those beautiful flakes and flurries are no longer welcome!
We’ve had snow twice this week, and every kid in town was holding their breath for school closures. The public schools folded early, mercifully calling at least a delay the day before. Their kindness did not go unnoticed by us parents. But the private schools, in valiant efforts to distinguish their superiority, held out ’til the last possible second and forced all the parents to wake up in the dark, check their phones, and try to scramble together a new plan for the day while half asleep (and re-considering why they pay good money to be treated this way). Surely lack of advanced notice shouldn’t cost so much!
But kids reacted to the snow days all the same, regardless of institution. Pure, unadulterated joy. Nine year old Manchild was happy when his private school finally made their decision to open 2 hours late, and tried to cram all the fun of snow, hot chocolate, new sleds, and sleeping in, into those 2 magical hours. Unfairly, his eleven year old public schooled sister was off for the day. But just as the toes of the children started to freeze, after the last run down the hill, and the final poorly flung snowball was lobed half-heartedly, just as the heavy sadness of 9:00am settled in and it was time for breakfast and uniforms, the private school caved and closed for the day! The notification was sent along with virtual assignments and “options” for the parents. As if tortured by the children having any fun or freedom on a day that, by all rights, should have been theirs.
Unfortunately, this work-from-home-nurse was not about to have her job cancelled for snow. So compiling no-warning homeschooling on top of that just seemed cruel. It was one stinkin’ day. Who are they kidding? I wasn’t about to ruin a beautiful day of exercise, freedom, and memories with fighting over nouns, math facts, and vocabulary words. Knowing that there was no way all the other parents in class were going to be available to complete the assignments, the content was likely going to be repeated in class the next day (and really, how boring is it to learn the same thing twice). The assignments turned out to be optional, and I was exercising my option to not stress out my son. There would be plenty of time for that when he grew up. After a year of homeschooling at it’s worst in 2020, there was no need to do academic battle today.
Instead, we embraced the world of snow pants and wet mittens, of missing hats and out grown boots. We tromped in and out of the house, leaving salty puddles in our wake to soak into the socks of the person who followed. Turned out Manchild had outgrown one pair of boots, another pair weren’t water proof, and he accidentally wore Girlchild’s boots to school – where the entire sole crumbled off the right boot yesterday. We were in desperate need of new footwear. While the kids could make due with multiple pairs of socks inside rain boots, that’s ultimately a very cold and slippery way to go sledding.
We quickly learned (upon traipsing all four of us to Target in a rare shopping trip that lassoed Captain Schenanigan into the fray) that there was not one pair of boots left to be bought in-person. We were too late in the season, they were all gone! That was the draw back to snow that falls after Christmas, and not before. All the merchandise was gone, and vendors were already setting out their valentines and candy. They didn’t care that three out of the four of us didn’t have snow boots. This was going to have to be an online roll-of-the-dice solution, as sight unseen footwear generally is.
No matter, I enjoyed seeing the kids create snow forts and shelters in the Narnia woods by our house. Friends came and went, and they settled into a rhythm alternating between snow play and video games, as they warmed up again. At one point, as I cruised past Minecraft heading back to my desk, I noticed Manchild and his buddy clad in identical black snow bibs while gaming on the basement couch. I paid attention, and the two of them continued to wear the snow overalls for hours. In the house and back out again, they never took them off. I smile to myself, and continued the motions of a working mom. Come supper time, the friend had left and Manchild was perched at the table, boots off but still warmly dressed in his snow pants. This is the child who loves to be naked. Who appears on social media a fraction of the time his sister does, because he’s generally not appropriate for public viewing. The kid who eats meals in nothing but his underwear (pick your battles) and has been known to turn down play invitations with friends because it required pants, and he was already in his undies for the evening. He seriously doesn’t feel cold.
“Manchild, why are you still in you snow pants?” I question.
He shrugs and looked up at me casually from his Ranch chicken and potatoes. “It’s just easier to keep wearing them”, he explained.
Then he stood up from the table to proceeded to pull a cache of little boy nerf guns, rifles, and climbing ropes out of the pants. Not the pockets. The pants. Seems Manchild had figured out the brilliance of a built in pouch, and making good use of it. He demonstrated how one could carry a dart pistol and emergency rope inside the bib of the overalls, while having a full rifle hidden down inside one leg (assuming you didn’t like bending your knee too much). What had started as laziness had progressed to usefulness, and now my son was a permanent resident of his snow gear. I couldn’t fault him. Why abandon something that had eased the struggles in your life? This made perfect sense to an eleven year boy. In fact, why aren’t we all wearing snow pants? I bet you could fit a jug of milk in that bib, along with a bag of taters down one pants leg and a sack of onions down the other. Boom! Grocery unloading done in record time.
The perspective of my kids never ceases to amaze me. And while we struggle to form them and shape them to something that fits into the job market, I have to confess, I see the appeal in letting them shape us a little more into something that doesn’t.