We’ve had a whopper of a week here in Monterey Park. The snow was non-stop for three days, which meant that I was the caretaker of snowsuits, sleds, mittens, lots and lots of wet socks. I did help with the making of a snow man on the front lawn and even found a long carrot stick for the nose. I swiped a hat from Steve’s closet and a few big buttons from the button box for the eyes and shirt. Looking back on it now, it was a great adventure; but going through it challenged my patience, sanity, and marriage.
Day one was a hard snow. It accumulated quickly and we weren’t able to play in it. I set up a mock classroom in the basement, and spent time with Stevie and Daisy practicing math problems, penmanship, and using the snow for a science lesson. We took time for arts and crafts, ate lunch together, and played some board games for recess. I was pleased with my ability to use the time wisely and enjoyed the time with the kids.
Day two brought more snow, but it looked like we might be able to get outside some time during the day to play. Steve went to work and called me two hours later when he arrived. I’m sure driving was a nightmare and he told me that they might close early and send everyone home. It would be a nice treat to spend the time as a family. I set up the classroom for the morning, but the kids were a little less enthusiastic about spending the day with Teacher Mom. My patience and excitement had lessened also, so we worked through the math and spelling lessons that I selected from their schoolbooks. Recess lasted a little longer and lunch was served a little earlier than usual. I shortened our school day because it became too much like school for me.
When Steve came home, the kids were thrilled to see him and jumped all over him with kisses and hugs. Teachers are never appreciated like that. We all bundled up to go outside. The snow was knee deep on the kids and they ran all over the yard, making long tracks in the formerly pristine scene. We started to roll big balls for the snowman and Steve dragged out the shovel and began to clear the walkway and driveway. It was still snowing a little but not enough to stop the Arctic adventurers. I was thinking about using that as the next geography lesson if school was canceled again. I used one of the shovels to help the kids build an igloo under the big pine tree for protection from the wind.
Steve continued his manly duties and cleaned the walk of old lady Kravitz next door. The kids waved to her at the window and she blew them kisses. She motioned for them to meet her at the door and she gave them a box of freshly made wheat germ cookies as a treat. The Kravitzes were Russian immigrants who had come to the US after the war. They would yell at each other in their native tongue when angry, and the Mrs. had the Mr. on a tight leash as far as yard work was concerned. Mr. Kravitz was a big bear of a man and sang Russian songs to the children when they stopped to speak with him on long summer days. I was getting misty thinking about summer days and needed to get out of my snow suit and go inside. I left the kids with instructions not to bother their father and went in to peel off the wet clothes and make some warm snacks. I didn’t exactly mind the wheat germ cookies but they had to be eaten in moderation so they didn’t upset the gentle workings of the digestive system.
When I looked out the kitchen window I saw the kids making big piles of snowballs, presumably to attack Steve. I’m pretty sure that they would never throw snowballs at me and it made me consider the differences between mothers and fathers and their roles. Steve was more fun than me to the kids, and I was more their caretaker. I didn’t mind the roles since I am really good at taking care of them. I watched gleefully as they launched the snowballs at Steve as he trudged back from his shoveling. Oddly enough, his face lit up and he threw some back without hitting them too hard. He’s a good dad. They all laughed and fell into the snow together making angels before they came inside. I was there at the door ready to gather the snow-caked gloves and hats, pull off the boots and snow pants. The kids ran up to the kitchen to enjoy their snacks and I reached up to hug Steve for all of his hard work. I felt his hand reach into his pocket and thought he was just getting his keys. To my surprise, he took out a snowball and put it down the back of my shirt. It was cold and I let out a scream of surprise. I pulled out the snowball and threw it hard against his shirt where it fell apart. He laughed and I couldn’t have been more pleased; I knew that it was a compliment to be included in the fun and I kissed his freezing cheek.
That night we all ate dinner by candlelight and watched the reflection of the street lights on the snow. It was still snowing a little, and it looked like we had one more day together as a family before the roads and school would open. I decided to skip school myself on the third day. We each spent our time off as we wanted. The kids played inside and outside. Steve continued to clean the walks as the snow stopped. The plows started clearing the roads. I read a book for part of the day, cooked a nice dinner, talked on the telephone to other stranded friends, and enjoyed not completing my weekly cleaning chores.
The next morning was back to normal with everyone off to school and work. The house was quiet and I sat down to enjoy a cup of coffee alone. The snow was pretty and I could make out the snowman. His eyeballs were off kilter and his carrot nose dipped down. It was a little like life.