Monday, March 2, 2009

March Snow

Snow is something of an occasion in Washington, DC. It seems we go for three or four years with very small amounts each winter and then we get socked! Last night's weather "event" was somewhere in between.

And it's beautiful as you can see from this shot of the Obama place I lifted from the net (the BBC website actually).

I woke up this morning and looked out the window and the snow was coming down and being blown about by strong winds. I could hear the scraping of the plows going by and see the buses and cars struggling to make it up the hill I can see from my window. Another view afforded me snow-laden trees - all perfect and surprisingly un-windblown.

When I finally went outside, the sun was shining and it occurred to me that this was definitely Christmas Eve snow. It was the sort of snow storm perfect for the holiday - light, fluffy, and easily cleared. Perfect for leaving grateful parents to their doctored eggnog and meeting up with friends to compare the haul from Santa and try out a new sled left under the tree.

A sled under the tree? I guess I date myself with that one, don't I? Despite Washington not having record snow fall every year, sleds were common gifts at Christmas time, either wooden ones with red runners or, when I was a teen, the silver saucer shaped one which, if my recollection is accurate had minimal steering and non-existence breaks!

I look at kids now and wonder. There is an email that gets circulated periodically about kids born/raised before the 80s and how we pretty much "survived" our parents doing things that are now unthinkable - smoking during pregnancy, allowing us to ride in a car without seatbelts, ignoring us until the streetlights came on. I do not imagine that today's parents would let Santa leave a sled with only ropes for steering and no brakes to speak of.

It seems to me that two things changed in the parent/child dynamic. Parents became too involved (anybody here over 40 ever have Mom arrange a playdate?) and kids discovered an ancient truth hidden from earlier generations: they really can't kill us. In some subtle, mysteriously parental way, my parents - in fact, almost all adults - managed to transmit the idea that ultimately, they could kill any child they wanted. That message kept us from talking back (sassing was the term my mother used), acting out, and most importantly fired our imaginations for doing all sorts of things that they never got wind of.

I don't pretend to know what it is to parent these days. But, as I said, I wonder.

Generations of children are being denied the simple pleasure of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich because of allergies - where were those allergies when I was a child? Perhaps playing outside, exposed to the world, also made sure that our bodies took care of themselves. Was life meant to be so . . . clean? Children so isolated and controlled?

I really don't recall my parents being either interested or overly involved in how my life ran, except to ensure that I didn't injure myself in any serious way. Mostly I had my friends and they had theirs - they were not worlds that touched very often and somehow that wasn't a bad thing. I guess I can't figure out how such a structured world seemed so unstructured - a clarity of roles, perhaps?

And bicycle helmets and pads? I'd have been beaten to death :)

Still, this is Christmas Eve snow and what a sweet memory of flying down a hill, sweaty from being bundled (Mom did do that), and wondering if I'd ever stop!