Small World

March 20, 2013

My world has felt tiny lately. I don’t know if it’s the weather, which has been a never ending onslaught of snow and wind. Maybe it’s school this semester, I’m studying Biomechanics and Intro to  Computers. Both topics leave me a little humble, and humility is not something I’m accustomed to in the academic world. Or maybe it’s just that I feel like what I’m doing mostly right now is waiting. I’m waiting to get my degree. I’m waiting to begin a new career. I’m waiting for spring.

I’ve had a lot of time to pay attention to my children. I turn to them when things aren’t perfect in my world. My twelve year old son, is starting a new basketball team on Thursday. I get nervous about his love of sports; it is unfamiliar to me. I don’t know what makes a three point shot a three point shot, just that it’s farther away than a one point shot. He is incredibly talented and this gift of his will serve him well. Lately he has become preoccupied with his place in the world. In other words, he wants to be popular. About this I also have no clue. I was the last picked for gym class until I started high school and gym consisted of walking around the track smoking cigarettes.

When Katy is near, she is usually close to me. When we watch tv or read, some part of her leans onto some piece of me. She still throws herself into my body when I pick her up at the bus, still laughs at most of my jokes. She is nine. She is the peace keeper; when Colin and I fight, she takes me aside and explains to me that he is getting ready to be a “teenager” and that I really should give him space. When she is mad, and I do make her mad, she storms as far away from me as our tiny house allows. She tilts her head up, and her neck looks as long as a swan’s. I think she’s trying to put her nose in the air, she must have read somewhere that is appropriate behavior for little girls that have been wronged. I am thankful she doesn’t feel wronged that often, it’s a matter of time before I make the mistake of laughing as she flounces up the stairs. I didn’t even know it was possible to flounce in an upward direction until Katy figured it out.

My world is kids, animals, dirt from kids and animals, friends that know my secrets and still call me for advice, a yard that can only be described as sad, school, long walks in the woods, and respite from it all at the gym. It is a very small world, right now anyway. But it is filled up with everything that I love. Except for the dirt. And I promise that I will do something about my damn yard if the snow ever melts.

My feet are cold. They are still stuck inside the long, brown, polka dotted boots I wear for shoveling. The socks are a little wet, and the jeans I tucked inside the boots are also a little wet.  This explains why my feet are cold, but not why I’m still wearing the damn boots.

It is the tail end of another “snow event”. In other words, it’s still snowing. In about twenty minutes, I will head back outside in my quest to clear a path along our thirty feet of sidewalk. It snowed a lot, two feet I think, so the walls of white along the path are about three feet high. I am proud to be the one that built those walls of snow, me and my shovel make a helluva team.

Colin and Katy started their snow day out in the kitchen, making pancakes. Katy is nine, Colin is twelve. This was their first attempt at creating a breakfast that didn’t come out of a box or a bag of bread. I chose to stay out of the kitchen,  I stayed on the sofa and listened to the process.  

“I don’t know Colin, do you really think we should add two eggs? The box says to add one.”  “Katy, what did you DO with the spatula?” “Why do you think I did something to the spatula. I don’t even know where mom keeps the spatula, I don’t even know what COLOR the spatula is… Sophie!!!! Put that down!!!”

For about 2 minutes I listen to both of my children chase Sophie the Wonder Pup, as she flies around our dining room, spatula firmly planted between her jaws. Then I hear- “Sophie… treats.” Katy is using her sweetest voice, the one that promises wonderful, wonderful delectable morsels. I almost got up to go see what she offered.

About ten minutes after the spatula was recovered by my daughter’s feminine wiles, and some old slices of turkey, the first batch was done. Colin called out “Orders up.” Katy stood at the refrigerator and asked me- “What’s your poison?” meaning did I want milk or orange juice. When did my kids begin to talk like short order cooks or bartenders? Why didn’t they bug me to make french toast?

 Most snow days, we tackle the driveway and the sidewalks together. We argue over who gets which shovel, and wears the gloves that don’t match. We throw snow balls, and there comes a time where I have to institute a cease fire because one hits Katy to hard in the head.

But today, I felt like I could handle the job on my own. While I listened to them make breakfast, watched them serve breakfast, marveled at them cleaning up after breakfast… it occurred to me that maybe they deserved a break. And maybe I needed a few minutes outside by myself to get used to the idea that Colin and Katy are growing up.

The driveway is done. The sidewalk and the stairs up to our house are clear. I’m a gym rat, and I like the fact that I am strong enough to do all this work, to shift mountains of snow from one spot to another, without pause.

But I saved the other side, the sidewalk on Franklin. I have laid out our collective mittens, found a few extra shovels, and we are going to finish it up together. There will be snow balls thrown, and endless negotiations about who gets which shovel, and whether we should clear in front of the neighbors house. And if we still like each other when we are done, and can still feel our toes, I’m thinking this snow is the right kind for building a snow man.

I’ll see what they think. I am hopeful that they are still young enough to be bribed with hot chocolate, especially if I still have my stash of the right kind of marshmellows.