In the middle of the week, on a typical school morning, a small surprise awaited me outside: snow. Small hills cascaded over the birdbath and tree stump in our backyard. Our street, normally separating us from the neighbors, was now covered in a thick, marshmallow-like pillow. My first instinct: catch up on some reports, return those lingering emails, and market my new book. And, try I did. I pulled out my laptop during those morning cartoons, pounded away on my laptop keys, trying to get ahead so I could get more things done. Somewhere between the typing of an email the jotting of my to-do list, my kiddos’ giggles distracted me from the seriousness of it all.
It all started when Buddy announced, “I’m going outside! Now, where are my snow pants, Mom?”
Putting aside my laptop, I sat at the table and talked my son through the steps of getting the snow pants from the hall closet, the gloves from the wooden hutch, and the hat stuffed in the bottom of his backpack. I directed and coordinated these efforts from my chair with every expectation that I’d find some respite once my son trudged outside into the snow. And when I heard him say, “Okay, Aussie dog, let’s go play!” I opened my laptop and drilled myself back into my world of adulting.
A few emails into my so-called day of catch-up, I heard a voice from outside: a loud, bolstering laugh. The laugh was raw with joy. The laugh was something outside of the typical giggle that bops around the hardwood floors of our home. And at that moment my computer started to show me the spinning circle – the one that tells you that you’re working harder than your computer. So, I took that moment as my sign from the snow universe that I needed to see what all the laughter was about.
To my pure delight, I looked out the backdoor window and saw Buddy and Aussie dog throwing snow into the air – hands and paws. I heard the stillness of the snow in the backyard and saw the sparkle in Aussie dog’s eyes. The snow flew into the air with Buddy’s hands and then fell down like confetti catching a small breeze. Aussie dog opened her mouth and pounced into the air – grabbing what she could of those small snowflakes. And then I saw Sissy, fulling dressed in her purple snow pants, leopard winter coat, snowshoes on the wrong feet, and a turquoise bow in her hair. She waved her arms and legs into the snow, creating nothing less than a small-bodied snow-angel.
That moment told me to let go of being an adult. I shouted to my children, playing in those gleeful moments of a snow-day, and said, “Let’s go sledding!” …
… And we discovered the sledding hill by the creek. Our sleds lined up at the peak of the small mound, and one-by-one we each zipped and zoomed down the hill. Then after so many runs, we decided it was time to build a ramp – something our sleds could jump on and then catch some air. As a mom, I don’t recall ever building a ramp for sledding. In fact, this historically was something my son always crafted while I supervised. However, on this day, Buddy showed me how to pack the snow in a way that created smooth edges. The smoother the edges – the quicker the lift into the air.
“Okay, Sissy,” my son hollered up the small mound. “You need to get a running start! You can do it!” He chimed. His confidence beamed. His spirit soared. And then he cheered Sissy on as she took flight on the ramp of packed snow, leaping into the air and landing with her sled in a perfect twirl at the base.
And then it was my turn. Buddy showed me how to sit on the sled and how to move my body to guide the sled down the hill. He and Sissy counted, “1, 2, and 3,” and then they both pushed me from the crest of the hill. With the snow still sprinkling from the cloudy sky and the perfectly pathed sled ramp, I also took flight when I hit the ramp, landing with a soft thump into the powder. I rolled off the sled and squealed, “that was so much fun!” And then my kids bulldozed me with snowballs and nose-to-nose kisses. At this moment, I was my inner child, feeling the pure delight of the moment. I didn’t have an age, or a job, or a list to complete. My only mission was to experience fun.
Our day continued with more snow-ramps and treks into enchanted forests with magical icicles. We threw snowballs at the frozen creek, delighting in how the snow splattered on the hard ice. We romped around the snow with Aussie dog, touching our noses to the snow just like she does. Buddy and I engaged in a snowman building contest with Sissy took careful note of craft. The official winner – both of us!
So, on this day, I truly remembered how to play. And, as I write this, I look back and I remember the feeling from that snow day. I remember the joy that filled me up and the child that leaped out of me on that sled ride. I remember the confidence exuded by Buddy and the happy giggles from my daughter. On this day, I remembered how to play.