Although my 21-month old sings “Let it Go” every single day (Eh ih go! Eh ih go!), this week’s frozen fun had absolutely nothing to do with a Disney movie and everything to do with snow, imagination and action.
The first snowstorm of the season blew through Minnesota last week. We made sure the snow pants and boots were ready for school, and when the little ones woke up, there was no snow outside. Such disappointment. Snow did come during the day–just enough for my six-year old to take a running slide on the snow in his snow pants after school. But when they found out we were going to grandma and grandpa’s house and that they had several inches, they were even more excited.
When the kids woke up in the morning after we arrived, the first thing I heard was, “Can I go outside and play in the snow?” I did a quick weather check–5 degrees Farenheit with a high of 21. It didn’t take me long to decide we would wait until just before lunch to bundle up and head outside. We actually went outside twice that day and had the best snowball fight I’ve ever had in the form of extended pretend play, with the kids in charge.
I say it was the best snowball fight, because I never once got hit with a snowball. I got no snow in my face or down my jacket. None of us did. While my older son army crawled about thirty yards through the snow to climb a snow pile, I began scooping out snow from the middle of a snow pile made by plowed snow to make a fort. The snow was beautiful, fluffy snow like in the movies–perfect to glitter in the sunshine, but horrible for making snowballs. So we scavenged chunks of snow made when the snow plow packed the snow and stockpiled them in our fort. Suddenly, the advancing army was upon us, and we had to fire, throw grenades, bombs and fire cannons at enemy ships and planes. And when they retreated, coincidentally when we ran out of ammo, the army commander had us gather the ammo to prepare for the next army invasion. It really was epic.
At some point, my six-year old decided to burrow into the snow pile next to the fort, and taking his lead, I began digging from the other side. When his fingers poked through to my side of the tunnel, I felt like a six-year old again, and when I poked my fingers through to show him, he gave a triumphant whoop that made me grin. And after he wriggled through a couple times, he was more than happy to oblige when I wanted to take a photo.
During all of this, my toddler kept to the sidelines. If you live in a place with snowy winters or have ever seen the movie “A Christmas Story,” you understand how difficult it is for a little kid to maneuver in boots, snowpants, jacket, mittens and a hat. I attempted to get him to throw a snowball a few times, but since it was nearly impossible to grip anything in his overstuffed mittens, he was happy dipping his hand in the snow and holding it out for the dog to lick off. He ventured out into the snow twice, but after falling three times, unable, or at least unsure how to get up by himself, he commanded the troops from behind. “Fire!” or more accurately, “Fah!” was the only word he uttered (repeatedly) the hour we were outside. But despite his troubles and spot on the sidelines, he still complained and fought when it was time to go inside–both times.
Cheeks rosy and eyes sparkling, the boys went back in to grandma, and I was happy I had taken the time to bundle up and get down in the snow with them, that I had let the kids take the lead, not just making a fort, but raising confidence and making memories.