The snow started coming down in earnest on Saturday afternoon. I took a class at the Spokane Art School on Saturday; when I went out to my car just before 6 pm, I was surprised to find four inches of snow on my car. But it was easy enough to brush it off and head up the hill to our friends' house. Patricia and Jason were kind to host Ross while I was in class and Chris was in Appleton, Wisconsin, for the annual trivia contest.
Ross and I drove home around 9 pm. The snow hadn't relented, and I knew that I had better do some shoveling before bed. As I worked on the driveway, I watched drivers try to maneuver their cars on the unplowed street. Two cars got stuck, but my neighbors and I helped push them out. And still, the snowfall was thick and fast. The night was pretty and quiet.
I rolled out of bed Sunday and immediately looked out the window. Lots more snow. Ross and I ate a quick bowl of cheerios, and I dressed for another round of shoveling. I was supposed to usher at church, but I was having my doubts that we'd be having services. Then the power went out. Since our church is only a block away, I assumed they'd lost power, too. I tried calling the office -- no answer. I figured that folks were smart enough to stay home and stay safe and warm. I kept shoveling. The power came back on in a couple of hours.
Meanwhile, Ross was supposed to finishing a writing assignment that he should have finished in school. I'd been very displeased that he hadn't been doing the work in school, but I was trying to keep my cool about it. After working outside for almost two hours, I came inside to find that Ross hadn't written a single thing in that whole time. Much anger and frustration rose up in me. I didn't totally "lose it" with him, but he got a long lecture about responsibility, work, goals, etc. He cried a little -- his normal response when he has blown it and he knows it. I laid out the consequences: no screen time (tv and computer time) for Sunday, and if he didn't finish by the deadline that I set, he'd be grounded for a week, which means only school and home, no friends, no screen time. I told him that he might regain his Sunday screen time if he finished on time and had done an excellent job. After we ate lunch, I went outside again. My cell phone was on alarm mode, set to ring four minutes before his deadline.
I'd noticed that the still-falling snow was weighing down the trees and shrubs. Our tall shrubs in the back yard were bent over, tips almost touching the ground. I went out with a broom to knock off as much snow as I could. (Unfortunately, I was too late for the hawthorn in the front yard. A large branch cracked high in the tree. We'll have to saw it off when the weather improves.)
As I worked in the back yard, Ross came out, all dressed for the snow. He still had a lot of time left before his deadline, and my first internal response was anger -- what the hell does he think he's doing out here?! But I tried to keep my composure when I saw his face was bright and happy. He told me that he had finished his assignment, and that he thought that I might need some help.
Some help? Oh my God. I was getting exhausted. And my son was offering me his help. This from a child who often lives in his head and does not seem to think much about others. I was grateful and thrilled. I felt the tears well up in my eyes a bit. He wanted to help me.
So. I brought out a second broom for him, and we knocked snow out of the hawthorn branches. He realized he couldn't reach very high, but he thought that he could climb up into the tree and knock off more snow up there. So I gave him a boost, and up he went.
He was so happy to be in that tree! He was careful as he climbed, and he did what he could. And then we went to the hawthorn in the front yard and did the same thing.
Finally, the snow stopped as evening fell; we had about a foot altogether, the most this area has seen in approximately 15 years. I had spent the vast majority of the day moving the snow, and I ached. When Ross asked about regaining his screen time, I smiled and told him why he'd earned it. First of all, he had finished his assignment on time and had done it well. But more important, he had come outside and offered to help me of his own free will. That meant a lot to me.