IMG_1435 Just the thought of it gave me chills. It thrilled and excited everyone who heard about it. We were taking the kids up to the Sierras to see their first snow.

I’d been there when they saw the ocean for the first time! They grew up in San Francisco and our girl didn’t see the Pacific until she was 5! Now their first wintery wonderland.

The euphoria should have warned me this might be a trip we, and they, will enjoy more in retrospect.

The good news: our kids are increasingly bonded to us. They are feeling secure, part of the family. So secure, in fact, that they’re ready to test some more limits. Test, perhaps, the very edges of our endurance. What if they won’t go to bed? What if they won’t put on jackets, or get dressed, eat anything, or walk back to the car from this snowy meadow? What would Daddy and Papa do then, huh?


At least there was snow. Not fluffy newly fallen snow, but a big blanket of white, slightly icy, but kick around enough unearth some powder. Able to skid bump-bump-bump down hills in a plastic dish. Some magic moments. Able to try a snowball fight.

Ugh, the snowball fight. I thought I’d learned my lesson years ago when I was drawn into a snowball melee with my godson and his friends, and I beaned one of the girls in the forehead. Not adult-strength hard, but too hard for kids. A humiliating memory. So I was super gentle. And our daughter had done her homework: snowball fights require you to make your pile of snowballs, then you throw them at each other until your cold and have to go back in for hot chocolate. I thought she was ready.

I was lobbing fistfulls of fluff, just bits of stuff while she pelted me with her snowballs. Then a handful got under her hood and went down her back. “Cold, coldy coldy cooooold!” She shrieked, throwing herself down as you might if you’ve been burned with hot oil. “Aaaaaa! Why did you do that?!” She was furious.

“Snowball fights are supposed to be cold” I offered, as I was helping her get the snow out of her shirt. (When will it sink in, logic is only intermittently interesting to a 5-year-old?)

“NO they are not! Noooooo!” She wailed, cried, rolled around on the ground, batting away my help. “No no no! You are NOT supposed to do that! Snowball fights are NOT supposed to be cold! You are not supposed to get snow in your shirt!” She was hysterical, angrier and more upset than she’d been in days and days before that. She did recover, she did have hot chocolate.

But it was only an hour or so later until her next meltdown. And while usually one of the kids will lose it while the other looks on smugly, they kept both freaking out, often. Bouts of bloodcurdling shouts screams and protests was a theme of the weekend.

Iceskating? They cried and shrieked in fear while on the ice, holding on to us for dear life, trying to bring us down (not hard given my skating). Then when off the ice cried and demanded to go back and do more.

IMG_1431To give her credit, our 5-year-old applied her “I will do this” effort on occasion, pushing through with ice skating and going back to it. There were bits of wonder and fun in between the freakouts.

The tenser they got, the tenser we got. Our coordination is usually so good, but broke down under enemy fire. It became an “is this supposed to be fun?” weekend. We turned on each other a few times, surely this was someone’s fault? By the time we got back home and got them in bed, I was so relieved the first adult conversation we had wasn’t about divorce, I forgot what I’d been annoyed about. (Mostly.) And I was so glad to be back home, having survived our snow ordeal.

IMG_20130127_171602_630Though it had been so pretty. And I love the plastic plate skidding!

Driving back, our daughter had asked if we can go back to the snow next year. I was startled for a second, after the weekend we’d had. Then the sweet narcotic of retrospect began its work. “Of course we will” both Jay and I said at the same time.