Snow Day!

The Guideposts senior editor shares why a snow day is a reminder of the simple things in life.

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It snowed and snowed. Flakes blew past our windows in erratic horizontal streams. The trees in the churchyard bowed with white. It was early morning and already the city was blanketed.

Frances and I got out the door as quickly as we could. I knew the storm would only increase and I was working at home—story to finish, phone interview after lunch—so it was now or never. Frances is three. It’s never a good idea to keep her inside all day. Even she knows this. “Daddy, I have too much energy!” she sometimes wails.

We stomped to the playground across the street. We were the first and only people there. No tracks. Snow formed perfect, fragile berms atop benches, on the rungs of ladders. The swinging bridge (we call it Squeaky Bridge because if you jump on it hard enough it gives up terrific metallic groans) was laden and silent. Slides formed glaciers.

We set to work. When Frances had eaten her fill of snow (and got it good and deep inside her mittens, requiring emergency snow removal by Dad) she tackled the slides. Carefully and precisely she removed snow from each rung of a ladder and climbed to a snowbound platform. She sat at the lip of the slide, grinned and whooshed down, pushing a gathering mound of snow before her feet. She flew off the end, landing in powder.

“Again!” she cried. We heaped snow onto the bottom of the slide (that is, I heaped snow; Frances paused for a snow-eating break) and she climbed back up and barreled into the snow mound. Again and again we did this.

Then we made tracks like cross-country skiers breaking trail toward the Squeaky Bridge. We climbed up to the bridge and marveled at its immobility. Was it frozen? So weighted with snow it wouldn’t move? A winter mystery. We kicked snow off the play structure and watched it swirl to the ground. Frances slid down a big slide and tried climbing back up. No go, not even with my help. Way too slippery.

Finally the wind grew too strong. Snow blew in our faces, somehow finding its way down necks and up sleeves. “Can we go to Starbucks now, Daddy?” Frances asked. I said yes. We crossed an almost impossibly slushy street (very exciting: two garbage trucks fitted with plows thundered past just as we were about to cross, flinging arcs of dirty snow) and walked the block to Starbucks, where we dripped big puddles as we unbundled and got in line.

Frances settled on vanilla-flavored milk and I got coffee. We drank, ate some dried apricots I’d brought along, talked about snow and played with her straw, a complicated game in which the straw was repeatedly dismayed to discover he was no longer the tallest thing at the table when the Ziploc bag containing the apricots suddenly unfurled to its full length with a decisive “ah-hah!”

Finally Frances grew bored and we noticed people impatiently eyeing our table. We suited up and walked home.

Sometimes parenting is impossibly hard. Sometimes, though, it’s transparently easy. On this snow day it required nothing more than venturing outside and being companionable. I wonder how often I needlessly complicate things. I wonder how often I worry and fret when it turns out I already have the tools to make life work. It’s a consistent urging from God—have no fear. I find that urging monumentally difficult to heed. Perhaps I need more snow days. Frances, I’m sure, would be the first to agree.

Jim Hinch is a senior editor at GUIDEPOSTS. Reach him at [email protected].

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