No other words can be spoken in the winter that bring more joy to my daughter’s faces except, “Wow, I guess Santa must have accidentally dropped off all the presents for the neighborhood here.” My children greet snow more fondly than drug addicts greet ‘snow.’ The white powder has a similar control over them, they pine to run among the white capped pines. They lust for disturbing the shiny luster. They pee themselves with excitement, or will need to at least try before we go outside.
Taking your kids out in the snow is an experience all parents embrace, especially new ones. When you’re a new parent this is a picture worthy moment, like meeting the Easter bunny or having a face covered with birthday cake. It’s not all picture perfect though.
The younger they are, the less they understand that snow is cold. They look out and see soft powder, like a million pillows exploded for their enjoyment. They would run out in their pajamas but as the much wiser – or at least taller – ones, we bundle them up.
I’ve never worked in a sausage factory but I image the job of stuffing hot dogs is similar to that of getting children dressed for the snow. The last time my daughters were this packed into something was during their entrance to this world. As parents then, we focus on getting every part of soft pink skin covered which means of course that once they are nearly dressed, they will need to pee. Undress, bathroom, redress and then finally we’re ready to head outside.
My children love to play two games outside, snowball fights and sled rides. For the former they ask me to make them snowballs so they can throw snowballs at me. Their hands can’t actually move once packed into their gloves and I oblige of course. I make a snowball, pass it over to them, and then get hit by the same snowball. I let them hit me for a bit then introduce the rule that if you throw a snowball, people could throw snowballs at you. At this declaration the game became even more fun. I let them get in a few more shots at me until I announced that they better run.
Upon this announcement of war, my verbal shot across their bow was quickly followed with a barrage of lobbed snowballs that follow their tracks through the snow. I felt like a mid-century artillery man whose captain ordered to not worry about ammunition.
My attacks rarely find the kids but land close enough for them to sense they’re under attack and they flee in joy. Their running form during this time is funny to observe. The snowsuits restrict about 85% of any movement so they’re arms are mostly straight. Puffs of hot hair erupt from their mouths in rapid succession, fueled by equal parts laughter and exhaustion.
They’ll tire after a few minutes of escape and collapse in the snow. During one such break, a snowball I threw found its home next to their face, grazing their cheek. There were extra marshmallows in the hot chocolate that day. Their physical exhaustion means we move on to the next game, sledding.
Some day sledding with my daughters will be fun. We’ll climb the hills together and rush down in tandem like a real life pairing of Calvin and Hobbes (I’ll be Hobbes, of course). For now though, sledding is me pulling them around the yard. Like a huskie in Siberia I hitch myself up, they sit themselves down, and off we go.
I’m like a 1962 Soviet Soldier, only better dressed but hearing the same calls to march. We don’t have any hills in our yard so I mostly weave us about the trees, invoking some variety into an activity that’s basically a workout from Rocky IV. Of course my kids love it, sitting on the sleds and yelling for me to go faster. Somehow I increase my pace, never saying no like the farm horse I’ve become.
Finally the first stages of frostbite set in and they decide to return to our house. In I march, in they ride, and we do our best to derobe on a single mat in our entrance. It works as well as a single shot glass would for catching water from a leaky roof. Boots, gloves, and jackets are so spread about that it looks like the former occupant had been raptured, and in the burst of energy it sent the clothes to all corners of the room. It may as well be rapture because my daughters will never return to put those clothes away. They are focused instead at the final part of playing in the snow – the hot chocolate.
Kids of course don’t want it hot, they desire it slightly warm, their palate refined like the best French restaurant reviewers. Through their demands I’ve mastered the desired level and serve them slightly steamy cups which always have fewer marshmallows than they were expecting. It is impossible to have the amount of marshmallows they want and still be able to drink it. Somehow they developed the idea that each sip should fill their mouths with marshmallows. They always to settle for this marshmallowness and drink every bit of it, usually in six seconds or less. This is the only thing that happens quickly when we go out to play in the snow.
I do pick up their hats and gloves, knowing that the price you pay for wet clothes is much worse than just picking it up. They’ll want to go out again sooner than their clothes have dried and so doing laundry for this becomes the only chore understand.
Again we’ll go out and play and it is fun. Outside we don’t play house – thank goodness – we just run/ride and throw/hit ourselves to a point of cold and exhaustion and everyone falls asleep early and stays in their own bed, at least until the next morning when we see if it snowed last night.