Kids want things with a passion that is rarely seen in adults. They want toys. They want books (or at least mine do). They want to play on the computer. If you ask them, it isn’t just that they want these things… they crave them with every fiber of their being. Adults crave things, but rarely do we crave them with the same amount of single minded passion that a child does. We just sort of want things very much. Kids? They crave.
Yesterday, with a thick blanket of snow freshly fallen, just sticky enough to be perfect for building with, K was craving the out of doors. In the full sunlight of the morning, in the fading light of early evening, and even after full dark had descended, he begged to go outdoors. Once there, he played. And played. And played.
To my great surprise, he shoveled, too. We have a service this year, what with That Man We Call Dad spending so much time in Vancouver and my back and knees not being up to the task when the snow is anything other than light and fluffy, so there was no need for him to shovel, and yet he did. He left little wormy trails all over the driveway itself, and he even tackled the ridge left behind when the city plows went by.
It’s a nasty thing, that ridge. The plows roar down the street pushing a rolling wave of snow as they go, and as they pass the driveways in their path, they deposit a vile mass of snow at the end of the driveway. The driveway itself can be full of the fluffiest, lightest, most delightfully cheerful snow you’ve ever seen, but the ridge… the ridge is never nice. Rolled over repeatedly by the curved blade of the plow, it is as compact and heavy as snow can get. It takes a strong back and a healthy heart to tackle that mess.
Or a nine year old boy with the physique of a toothpick and a pile of good intentions as high as the sky.
He got through about a third of it, which was about 5/6ths more than I thought he would be able to manage, and when he came in, wet and cold and tired, he was discouraged that he hadn’t been able to do more. I reassured him that he didn’t need to worry, that the service would get to it before too long, but he is rather like his Mama. He worried.
You could see it in the way he held his body and in the way he kept casting glances at the window. He wanted to be outdoors. He needed to be outdoors. He craved it, with every ounce of energy he had left. Not just because being outdoors in the snow is fun, but because the job wasn’t done.
All through dinner, he fretted. His whole body was rigid with the stress of it. Shoulders were bunched in knots, hands clenched and unclenched, and he fretted. As his plate was set before him, he asked: can I go back outside? (Eat your vegetables first.) After the first few bites, he asked again. (Finish your dinner first.) Another few bites and he asked again. (Finish your dinner first, sweetheart.) He needed to be out there, shoveling. Needed to finish what he had left undone. Craved it, right down to his toenails.
And then, with dinner half eaten, he heard a noise.
He rushed to the window, his sister a bare step behind him, and together they watched as the service took care of that nasty ridge with a quick pass of the tractor’s snowblower attachment. Amidst the noise and lights of the service’s signature blue tractor, a transformation came over our boy. His shoulders let down, his neck lost its tension, and his face relaxed. The ridge was gone.
As for me? I craved cheesecake. So I had some.