Parenting: Kids and Snow

David Murphy's daughter headed downhill!

February 2, 2011 7:39:11 AM PST
As a weather guy, believe me, no one is more fed up with the snow than one David Murphy! But don't forget what snow can mean to your kids.

My hat is off to everyone who's been out there building snowmen, sledding and otherwise making the most of all the snow we've had this winter with their kids. While snow can be a pain in the neck for those of us who have to drive in it and run errands in it (and even forecast it!), snow is a special thing for kids and assuming they're taking the proper precautions, it can make for some great memories.

When I look back into the weather records, it's no surprise that some big snowstorms coincided with my childhood. I can actually remember snow that was piled higher than me in our front yard (I had to have been about five-years-old at the time). I also remember the front door to the house being blocked with snow so deep my dad could barely force it open and wiggle his way outside. But most of all, I remember long afternoons on weekends and snow days aboard my family's hand-me-down Flexible Flyer (the fastest sled in the neighborhood, as I recall), zipping through the local woods or down steep, icy hills at the edge of the local ball field. We used to carry candles or bars of soap with us so we could wax the runners for that extra pound of speed. It was always worth it (except for the time I went downhill looking at my friends behind me instead of the tree rising up in front of me. I came home with a very nice goose egg after that ride). Overall, though, it was absolute heaven---and especially nice when I was a very young kid and my Dad was the guy pushing me down the hill.

Memories like these were not lost on me as a parent. While my kids were younger, my wife and I made sure to get them over to the local playground at least once a winter when there was enough snow to warrant it, all of us with snow disks and snow boards in tow. This was difficult some years, because as any of you who can still remember winters prior to the last two can attest, we had some slim pickings for a while there. But as long as we're still wrapping-up a snowy La Nina winter following last year's mega El Nino winter and there's still enough snow on the ground to put to good use, better to get out there and use it. Your kids will remember these times the same as you probably remember your winter time childhood play.

And do it now. Don't wait. After all, who knows what next year will bring? With El Nino and La Nina probably no longer a factor, we may actually swing back to some seasons with fewer big snows. Even in the short term, as we look ahead to February, a trend toward milder temperatures and more ice/rain events than full-fledged snowstorms appears possible over the next few weeks. So if you've got the snow now, use it now!

There's one more point, here. These opportunities don't last forever. I'm down to one kid at home these days, and he's old enough to head off to the local slopes without me (as he just did yesterday). And frankly, my aching joints don't take a bumpy snowboard ride down the playground slope as well as they used to. Like a lot of things in the lives of our kids, the window is only open for so long on this front and memories of snowy opportunities for wintry days spent with your children become rare and fleeting in a hurry.

So while you're cursing the next snow storm when it shows up in the forecast, look on the bright side. It's a snow day for your kids, and maybe for you, too.

---David Murphy

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