Monday, April 20, 2009

The brains God gave a snow shovel

I was in pain. So very, very much pain.

Sledding is an activity for only the young, I thought, not for out-of-shape thirty-somethings who get winded pulling the pop-top off a Pringles can.

I collapsed on the bed and prayed for God to put me in full-body traction.

If he didn’t kill me first.

A large spasm ripped through my thigh and shot out my right foot.

OK, God, you win. Go ahead and kill me.

***

“Are you sure this is a good idea?”

Words straight from the mouth of my three-year-old son who – for some reason – doubted my instructions that he lay down head first on his new sled before I sent it screaming down a hill freshly packed with six inches of new-fallen snow.

“Sure!” I answered, clapped my gloved hands together in excitement and continued, “This is gonna be fun!”

He shot me a look that said he clearly doubted my intellectual health. But like a good trooper, he climbed aboard, wrapped his tiny hands around the sides and screamed, “I’m ready!!”

My eyes welled with pride. That’s my boy, I thought, and grabbed the sled, pulled it back to get a running start then pushed it forward and let go.

It wasn’t until later that I realized I should have paid more attention to his rational mind. It was, after all, the only one thinking clearly that day.

***

“She has the brains God gave a snow shovel,” my husband muttered.

I looked out the window to see the fuzzy, golden rump of Chaser, Wonder Mutt of West Edwards Street.

The rest of her was buried head first in a large snow drift running through the backyard. Every few seconds, her fringed tail would begin to wag in excitement, only to flop back down to earth, suggesting monumental defeat.

I glanced at the outdoor thermometer and noticed the mercury had yet to climb above 8 degrees.

“What is she doing out there?” I asked. “It’s freezing.”

“She’s looking for tennis balls,” was my husband’s response.

Aah, that explained it. Chaser’s love of tennis balls was only surpassed by her love of peanut butter, ear rubs and Grandpa Bill. Not necessarily in that order.

“Did you throw one out there?” I asked. She had trained us well. When it was time to go outside, one must toss a tennis ball in the backyard first. Otherwise, she’d plant her rear on the deck and refuse to go any further.

Once, she stayed out there for three days. She became best friends with the neighborhood rabbits and ate half of a wrought-iron patio chair before I gave in and decided tennis balls are a lot cheaper.

“I didn’t have to throw her a ball this time,” my husband answered. “She spotted the snow as soon as I opened the back door. Then she ran out like her tail was on fire, dove into that snow drift and hasn’t come out since.”

He gestured toward the window and snorted, “It’s been an hour.”

***

The sled went one way.

My husband went the other.

As I watched his body fly through the air, I recalled our son’s earlier question. You know, about this sledding head-first down a hill being a good idea.

Oh, the wisdom of youth.

“A little help here, please,” I heard my husband mumble.

At least I think that’s what he said. It was a little difficult making out the words since he was face down in the snow and half buried under a bush.

I reached down for his outstretched hand and heard, “THAT WAS AWESOME, DADDY!” Our son hopped up and down with excitement and yelled, “DO THAT AGAIN!”

My husband collapsed back onto the snow and grumbled, “Jesus. What the hell am I doing?”I knelt down beside his prone form, looked into his eyes and gently said, “Honey, I think you have the brains God gave a snow shovel.”

Then I took off running.

***

It wasn’t until I had dragged our son back up the hill for the 247th time that I realized, “Hey, the kid has legs! He can walk!”

But the damage was done. By that evening, every muscle was screaming in agony. And you know what they were saying?

Yep. You got it.

“You have the brains God gave a snow shovel.”

(originally published March 11, 2009)

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