There are some people in this world who will tell you that there is no “right” way to play with your children in the snow. These people are wrong. And probably serve their children fruit as “dessert.”
There is a right way. Oh sure, a few details might vary and there is some accounting for individual family quirks, but on the whole, no matter how good of a parent you are, snow days follow an almost scientific formula. At least according to the data I have collected over the last seven years.
First, any proper snow day begins by the children waking up at dawn, looking outside their window and then immediately running into your room, where they jump on your face and loudly ask if they can go play in the snow. They will then repeat this question every five minutes and whine “but you PROMISED!” over and over and over again until you finally roar “FINE!” at the top of your lungs and they scamper away squealing with delight like the relentless, adorable gaslighters they are.
Then begins the thankless task of gathering all the outerwear, which were scattered to the distant four corners of your house the last time your children played in the snow. In between muttering obscenities about missing gloves and yelling about how in the world can all the snow boots only consist of the left snow boot, you remind everyone to go potty. Because once all these layers are on you are NOT taking them all off again.
The next half hour is a blur of stuffing tiny humans into snowpants and socks and sweaters and hoodies and hats and one glove while still looking for the other stupid glove and sunglasses for the kid who can’t go anywhere without sunglasses and scarves and ya’ll peed, right, because I’m not taking all this off again and ah-HA! there is that other stupid glove and what do you mean you lost the first glove, it was literally on your hand, and coats with stuck zippers and I told you the other snowboots were probably by the door and push harder, when did your feet grow, why are you growing all the time, and HEY, I found the glove, it was in mommy and daddy’s room, I told you stay out of our room.
Finally everyone is ready.
Everyone has to pee.
Repeat. Repeat it ALL.
Now if you have a big backyard and can simply open the door and release these loud toddling bundles into the wintry wild, stop reading here. Go contentedly sigh and enjoy a glass of wine in your dumb peaceful house or something.
For those of you who are like me and have small children in a city and thus need to “go somewhere” such as a park to play in the snow, the worst is yet to come.
Once you finally “get somewhere” (which, regardless of how you get there, will include many complaints and gritted teeth threats) there will be approximately ten minutes of pure, unadulterated joy. This is the brief moment in time where you remember why you decided to have children in the first place and why you love them and your family and your life and how did you possibly get so lucky as to be able to share a life with these people?
Then, just like the cheap plastic sled they sit upon, it all swiftly goes downhill.
Soon, someone will run over someone else with their sled because the kid on the sled didn’t listen and the kid climbing back up the hill didn’t listen. Everyone is crying.
They need a distraction. LET’S BUILD A SNOWMAN! Is there any activity that is more wholesome? Nope. At least for the next three minutes, after which you realize that you are the only one actually building the snowman and you can no longer feel your fingers.
Luckily, someone will always, inevitably, suggest a snowball fight. What could go wrong?
No aiming for the face, you yell over and over again. Surprisingly the kids abide. Eventually, however, you will hit one of the children in the face. By “accident” of course and not some subconscious urge. They will cry. You will feel awful (mostly). You will offer cookies and hot chocolate as consolation when you go back home. They will accept and immediately pop up like nothing happened.
You stay until both feet are completely numb and you’re pretty sure you’ve already lost three fingers to frostbite. When you finally can’t take it anymore, you give a five minute warning. May as well have been announcing you murdered Memaw AND Grandma AND Daniel Tiger. The wailing. The keening. The dramatic protestations that if you really loved them you would let them play for just a little longer.
Through sheer force of will (and some light dragging), you eventually wrangle them home and inside. Everyone violently disrobes, snow and ice and boots and gloves and hats flying, everything wet and gross and dirty. You are too tired to gather them all up even though you know you will later regret this.
It’s over. You survived.
Only a thousand more days until spring.