A Snow Day Story
Posted on January 2, 2014
Note to my future self, probably about a year from now:
Just because your friends are posting really fun-looking pictures of their children playing in the snow does not mean that your kid will magically begin enjoying snow. Or wearing a coat and snow pants. It’s okay to remember this. You are not a bad mom if she doesn’t want to play in the snow, and you don’t make her.
This morning, Chalupa brought Ruthie into our bed when she woke up and told her to look out our window. “It’s so much snow!” she said, captivated.
“Want to go play in it today?” I asked. I thought I was being generous with my offer. I don’t prefer to get bundled up in the snow to play even on the best of days. As a kid, I had fun in the snow, but never cared for the whole get-bundled-and-then-get-cold-and-sweaty and have to shed your wet snow clothes in a pile in the front hall.
That was when I was a kid. Today I am 36 weeks pregnant and can barely zip up my snow boots, let alone make a snow angel. Still, we’re on winter break, and I’d rather do something other than just sit around watching movies all day. (Time to be truthful now: I’d much rather watch movies all day, but I feel guilty about letting Ruthie watch movies all day.)
Plus, I’ve been seeing all these pictures of my friends’ kids playing in the snow these past few weeks. Look at the fun they’re having, I’ve thought to myself. I should take Ruthie outside to play like that. I know she didn’t really enjoy it last year (I seem to remember some tears and angry stomping), or the year before that (I remember her begging me to carry her) and she hates even mild physical discomfort, but I’m sure she’ll have fun if I just make the effort!
Ruthie seemed interested when I suggested an outing, but she kept pushing it back. “Let’s do it after I eat.” “Let’s go outside after we finish the movie from yesterday.” “Let’s go after I hold Chewbacca.”
Finally, I said we were going. No more delays. My motivation was disappearing. I wrangled her into pants and tights and snow pants. I talked her through the fact that the cuffs of her coat sleeves “feel weird.” I fixed the straps of her snow pants, which weren’t “on right,” and we zipped up, unzipped, and re-zipped her snow boots four times before we were ready. I struggled into my boots, buttoned my maternity coat over my belly, and took Ruthie’s hand. “Yay! Let’s go out in the snow!”
“SNOW!” she said happily.
It didn’t go well after that.
First, there was just a little whine when we opened the door and the wind hit her in the face. “It’s okay! Just a little cold!” I insisted.
She played with a little shovel for a minute while I shoveled a path across the back porch, but then she realized the handle of her shovel was getting wet when the snow hit and melted. “It’s wet!” she whined.
“That’s okay. Things get wet in the snow. You have your gloves on, remember?”
We realized that Grandma’s dog had gotten out and needed to be put back into the warmth of the garage, so we headed down the path to her house. As long as I was holding Ruthie’s hand or she was walking in the tracks Chalupa’s car made this morning, things were okay.
But then the zipper on her winter coat split open, and she didn’t want me to fix it. I tried anyway, insisting that we keep her warm, but she was angry that my hands were cold. “Why didn’t you wear gloves?!” she demanded.
“I did! I just had to take them off to fix your zipper.”
“No! Your hands are cold! And this snow is too deep!”
“Want to make a snow angel?” I said, changing the subject.
“You have to lie down in the snow,” I warned.
I helped her sit in the snow, then instructed her to lie on her back. Oops.
A tiny bit of snow slipped in between her sleeves and her gloves, touching her wrists, and suddenly we had a meltdown so intense it probably should have warmed her up. “It’s too cold!” she cried. “I don’t like this! No more snow! NEVER! Never ever ever go outside in the snow again!”
She marched her way to the front porch, where she threw her gloves on the ground by the door and wailed. “I don’t like it! I want to go inside! Please, Mom! Never ever let’s go in the snow again, okay?”
This was supposed to be fun, I thought. I was supposed to get cute pictures of us frolicking in the snow, of her making a snow angel, or the two of us shoveling the sidewalk together. Didn’t she understand? I don’t like being in the snow, but I was doing this for her! “Can you at least just stand there for a minute while I take care of the sidewalk?”
She did, but in her two minutes of waiting, she realized that there was snow on the top of her boots. Unacceptable, of course, but by now her gloves were off, and brushing the snow off meant touching the snow with bare hands, which meant yelling angrily. “It’s still cold!”
“Of course it’s cold!” I said. “Just leave the snow on your boots!”
Why was my almost-four-year-old whining like a barely-two-year-old?
I leaned my shovel against the house and opened the front door. “Stand on that rug,” I said. “I’ll get situated and then I’ll help you.”
She stood quietly, frowning, while I got my boots off and hung up my coat. She leaned on me, defeated, as I unzipped her furry boots and helped her out of her snow pants. “Do you want some hot chocolate?” I asked. “Some people like hot chocolate after playing in the snow.” (I knew she wouldn’t want hot chocolate, but I wanted some.) “Okay, how about some marshmallows?”
“I can have just marshmallows?”
“Of course,” I said.
A few minutes later, we were snuggled on the couch watching Brave. I had my hot chocolate. She had her marshmallows. When I showed her a picture of herself in the snow, she said seriously, “Never again, Mom. I never want to go out in the snow again.”
Well, that was what she insisted until Grandma came over for dinner and asked Ruthie if she’s ever been sledding. “I WANT TO GO SLEDDING!” she shouted.
Let’s hope that outing turns out better than this one did.