Why I’m a No Blower

Posted January 31, 2010 by jimhigley

I refuse to buy a snow blower. And, because of that, my kids think I’m cheap.

If they only knew my real reasons…

Year-after-year, our family has the same discussions each winter as we find ourselves staring at the television watching our local weathercaster providing details on the soon-to-be dumping of snow heading our way from one of our neighboring western states. The radar image onscreen only heightens everyone’s anxiety level as we now have a visual reminder of the reality of this fast-approaching monster that has the potential to bring havoc to our plans over the next couple of days.

“I hate this!” screams my driving-age daughter. “Are they going to cancel school tomorrow?”

Why is it that every kid believes parents have the super-human ability to predict- with perfect accuracy- whether or not school will be canceled when the first snowflake has yet to fall?

“Um, I don’t know,” I reply. “But it looks like we’re in for a lot!”

“Dad, you really need to buy a snow blower,” I hear from the lips of my youngest son who is using the same tone of voice he switches on when he says, “Dad, don’t ever sing along with the radio when my friends are in the car, O.K.?”

He gets no response from me.

He knows there will be no snow blower. Just like he knows I will continue to sing along with the radio in the car. What he doesn’t know is why I actually enjoy seeing my kids shovel.

My family is like most others. We live our Monday through Friday world (and most weekends, as well!) through a carefully choreographed schedule that we constantly update and modify. After-school sports, play practices, ortho appointments, haircuts, parent meetings for the committee-of-the-month, blah, blah. And those are just the things we know about in advance. We seem to need to make an emergency run to the drugstore at least two nights a week at 8:52 to pick up supplies for a project. And, despite my best intentions in pulling together regular family meals, many nights I have to resort to popping a frozen pizza in the oven or settling for yet one more turkey sandwich as our dinner.

There’s never enough time. And we don’t always make the time to stop and just enjoy what I still believe is the cornerstone of our family: each other.

But give us a common enemy- like a monstrous snowstorm – and we unite. And I love the reminder that, in spite of the craziness of our lives, my kids still know how to work together as a team-shovels in hand.

Even before our driveway has its first inch of powder, my kids have learned the importance of plotting out their strategy with the newest-and-biggest enemy. I hear them jumping onto the weather station online to get the newest information available to them. I chuckle as they begin speaking in terms of “hour-by-hour trends, impact of wind”, and the likely scenario we will be facing in the morning when we wake up.

Inevitably, one of the kids takes on a leadership role as the captain- suggesting who will shovel and at what time, when they should all combine forces, and who is in charge of sidewalks. I’ve come to realize that who that child is varies depending on who perceives themselves most at risk of being stranded at home (and miss some important event) should we not successfully keep ourselves from being buried alive.

And off they go. Sometimes one lonely soldier at a time, but usually as a small army. Bundled, wrapped, booted. Each carrying their favorite shovel.

They always get the job done. And, of course, there are a couple times each year I have to call in the big guns to plow us out.

I often hear my kids talk to each other about how “our” driveway was cleared long before all of our neighbors- even the neighbors who have snow blowers or professional help. They discuss the characteristics of the snow-the weight, the slush factor, how big the drifts were. They have just successfully slain yet another dragon and they are enjoying their victory.

It all makes me smile. Sure, it’s nice to have the driveway shoveled. But it’s far better to see first-hand that my kids know how to work with each other, how to get ahead of a problem, and how to celebrate a victory as a family.