Surprised by Adulting


It snowed here. I mean, snowed. We had two feet in less than twenty-four hours. Not kidding nor exaggerating.

Today we had a snow day from school. Kim claims she doesn’t remember when Wenatchee last had one. I remember them vividly from when we were kids, because they were some of the best days all winter. Once my dad, who was a teacher, bundled up and we walked through the snow to…the school, where he unlocked the door and let us play pick-up basketball all day, any of us who could get there. Something about the windfall of not sitting in boring classes or even being stuck at home alone but getting to play on a school day… If I’ve had more fun playing basketball than that, it doesn’t readily come to mind.

We live in a cul-de-sac and are a humorously low priority for the snowplows. That is, it’s funny as long as there are no emergencies. There were none today, thank God. When the plow finally gets to us, they push all the snow up into a huge pile in the middle of the road. Thus, our kids have established their tradition of creating snowforts when we get big snows.

But not today. Today there was too much snow to make a fort. Instead, they enjoyed “Mt. Crumpit” or “The Matterhorn” (I heard it both ways) as a scale-the-mountain-and-sled-or-slide-or-roll-down adventure.

When I was a kid, that would have been a dream. Walk down your driveway and there’s a twenty-foot mound of snow that you can climb on, right there in the street, with no concern for cars (no one could have driven in or out or our road today except with a monster truck or snowmobile). Since my kids have cousins who live roughly thirty yards from our driveway, we had all the snow day ingredients: snow, freedom from school, adventure, and companions with whom to enjoy it.

So I…shoveled.

No, seriously. For a good portion of the time the kids played on Mt. Crumpit, I was over at my sister-in-law’s, helping her shovel out her driveway. We had only a walking path of ours cleared (see above), but her driveway slants toward her garage. Today’s bizarre weather forecast was a winter storm warning…followed by freezing rain. Seriously. We were (and are, up to 4AM) supposed to get some nice rain on top of all this snow, which, you can picture, would have been a disaster. It would likely flood her garage, freeze again and become difficult or impossible to clear the driveway, or–with the best of luck–both.

But this afternoon, it was still only a deep pile of light, fluffy snow. So we shoveled and shoveled and built up 6- to 8-foot walls on both sides because you have to throw the snow somewhere. She and I talked while we labored, and laughed about parenting and all the ironies we never caught when we were kids. We reflected how our kids have it better than we did and how they can’t quite see that, but if only we could send them back in time to get a taste…you know, classic parent conversation. I tried to use caution with my back, having suffered disabling pain when I strained it last summer. A few times one offspring or another walked over, asked if we wanted them to take a turn, then, when we waved them off, headed back to the fun.

An example of my offspring helping.

I’m not telling you this to boast and I’m not playing the back-of-my-hand-to-my-forehead martyr. I’m reflecting on the experience because it caught me off guard: I was happy in my role. I didn’t envy the kids for getting to play while I worked. I (cough) enjoyed the chore. Kim came over a couple times to see if I wanted to trade. I went over to watch them all play for a minute. The dogs were particularly hilarious in the deep snow.

I’m not quite sure when I grew up. I mostly have suspected that I skipped that step. If I could play ultimate right up until such time as I am placed on hospice, I would be utterly content. But here today, I had evidence, right in my face, literally in my hands, that perhaps some part of becoming an adult snuck in while I wasn’t watching.

I remember–you remember too, right?–how Almighty-awful boring it looked to be a parent, a grown-up, when we were kids. They sat around and talked instead of doing things. They had all these dreary responsbilities. It baffled me, because here they were, the ones who had actual choices while we were told what to do. No one was telling them what to do, and they always chose the boring stuff!

I like sledding. I enjoy playing in the snow, having snowball fights, making snowfolks. I would have enjoyed playing on Mount Crumpit all afternoon.

But I enjoyed what I did, too.

I do think it was a little easier knowing that that this help just might matter a lot. (As of 11:35 PM, all is calm, all is bright and no freezing rain yet.) But bottom line, that shoveling needed to get done and today–a little to my surprise–I was happy to do it so the kids could all have fun together.

It was a snow day, after all, and they don’t get many.

Will I still feel as happy in the morning, when my back delivers a “Payment Due” notice, possiblyu in the least subtle of ways?

That’s why I decided to write this tonight.

Oh, and we get another snow day tomorrow.

One thought on “Surprised by Adulting

  1. Jeff Heminger

    Hey, Mike! My experience was so similar to yours yesterday. I looked out the front door when I got up and said, “Kids, school is cancelled today… and when you look outside, you’ll understand why.” The kids were screaming with excitement and went outside to play with the neighbor kids to make forts. I spent four straight hours digging out our cars, front walk, and driveway, and a little path from our back door to the garbage cans. And like you, I was happy to do it, and felt very satisfied at being able to do the shoveling while the kids just enjoyed the snow. Hooray for snow days!

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