Recently, we had our first significant snowfall. The fact that this happened in mid-January is pretty surprising, given the neck of the woods we live in. The snow has laid a thick blanket down and everything is clean, quiet and beautiful.
I grew up in New England where snow fell frequently during the winter months. Snow can fall as early as October and it isn't uncommon for it to still be on the ground in March when the crocuses are pushing their tiny heads up from the ground. As a girl, I loved the snow. If snow was on the ground, you could bet that I was in it. I'd pile on the boots, the snowpants, the hat the mittens and I would stay outside for hours. Sometimes I would build snowmen or make snow angels in my back yard. Other times I would venture into the woods behind my house and build igloos and snow forts. I would grab my sled and head for the local sledding hill. (All without a helmet or adult supervision...oh, the glory of growing up in the '70s!) Daylight would slip away and I would continue my play in darkness until I heard my mother calling me from the backdoor of our home. Only then would I head home.
As an adult, I still love the snow. I still get excited when I hear the newscaster predict the inches and even more excited still when I see the first snowflakes beginning to drift down from the sky. In the morning, I still rush to the window to peer outside, hoping to see a world of white. Snow is still magical for me.
Like me, my children also love to be outside. On any given day, Miss J and M would rather play outdoors than in. Like me, they will stay out until I call them in. The only difference is that in today's age they are not exploring the neighborhood, but stay within the confines of their own backyard.
M has always loved the snow and being out in it, but he has always needed my assistance. Cumbersome snowpants and heavy boots make it challenging for M to walk in the snow. Lack of balance and coordination means M falls frequently and the deepness of the snow makes it difficult for him to stand back up. He'd make many attempts to walk and play and keep up with Miss J, but ultimately the clothing and the snow were too much for him.. Exhausted, he'd sit in the snow and and simply watch. Since he was not moving about, he would become cold quickly. After a few minutes in the snow, I would take a shivering M inside. I knew Miss J's heart would sink a bit as she would watch M and I head for the warmth of our house. I knew she wished that her brother and I could stay out there with her.
My heart would break as I would observe M sitting in the cold snow watching other children play. It was simply too much for him. He wanted to play but he couldn't. These are the times when anger and sadness wash over me. These are the times when I cannot make sense of a child, my child, any child having to take on the observer's role in play. It is painful. Illogical.
This first snowfall brought us a small victory. This snowfall brought another first into our lives. This year, at age seven, M was able to walk in the snow. By himself. Unassisted. He tired quickly, but he was still able to make tracks in the snow. He played fetch with the dogs. He delighted in smacking snow off the tree branches with a large stick.
This time, I was able to watch my children from the window as my mother did with me. They played until the sun began to slip away and I called them inside. As I helped them peel away wet clothes, I couldn't help but smile. On this day, I was able to reclaim a small piece of 'normal."