Piles of Snow mean Piles of Fun!

Here in Montana, the month of January provides multiple opportunities for lovers of winter sports to get out and enjoy the season. A simple glance at a crowded parking lot can tell you a lot about what winter sports are popular around here.

It’s not unusual to see every second or third car outfitted with a ski rack for those downhill or cross country skis to line up in. You’ll notice other vehicles that have snowshoes tossed in the back cargo area and still others with sleds and ice skates in the back. Obviously, these are all people who love snow and know how to have a good time in it!

When the playground at a school is blanketed with a lovely layer of snow, a whole new book of playground rules has to be pulled out and dusted off. Because there’s just something so appealing about packing a mitten full of soft snow into an awesome flying projectile, otherwise known as a snowball.

Every winter at Hawthorne School the kids had to be reminded about the parameters of playing in snow at school.Throwing snowballs is not allowed. Breaking down the snow fort that was started by the kids in the earlier recess is not allowed. And sliding on the one section of the playground that everyone has to cross to get into the building until it’s like polished glass is not allowed.

It seems like a lot of rules but amazingly, once the kids knew these rules, very few of them stepped over the line. And if you think kids can’t have fun in the snow because of a few basic no-no’s, think again.

Wintertime on the playground was a joyous, rambunctious, cold-nosed, giggling mass of fun!

During most of my years at the school, one of the teachers, along with some amazing volunteers, flooded an ice rink for the kids. It was a serious work of art and labor of love.

To accommodate those students who didn’t own skates, over the years the school began to accumulate a large supply of “borrow” skates.These skates were mostly donated by families as their children outgrew them. Thus, anyone who wanted to skate was fit with a pair from the borrow bin and was allowed to keep them in his locker until the end of skating season. This meant that there were few non-skaters at Hawthorne.

I used to love taking a break from my desk during the kids’ recess time and look out to watch the splash of color and movement on the rink. This was an awesome thing to see- so much fun and exhuberance!

Another of the kids’ favorite winter wonderland pastimes was building snowmen. It wasn’t at all unusual to see groups of four or five children working together to roll a ball that was so large it took all of them to accomplish it. And there were just as many miniature snowmen built with just as much pride.

I remember one year, after a particularly deep, sticky snowfall, our principal decided that the front lawn of our school would be filled with snowmen to greet passersby. The children romped and played and cooperated on snowman construction until there were dozens and dozens of snowmen filling the area. It was a sight to behold!

I don’t want to move on without mentioning snow forts. Oh, the fun that kids can have building a snow fort! Now, you remember, there’s no snowball throwing at school. But that didn’t keep the kids from thoroughly enjoying building that wall and crouching behind it. Once again, a lot of collaboration went into deciding on just the proper design for the snow fort.

So what’s my point today with all these rambling snow memories? Basically, I just want to point out that kids can have a bundle of fun even if there are rules!

As a matter of fact, what I’ve observed over the years is that rules give a child’s life a framework. Of course, they will constantly be pushing and checking that framework. And that’s okay, because as long as the rules stay firm and unwavering, it lets the child know exactly where he stands. He is tethered.

Imagine being in a big world where there are no rules. It’s easy to get lost in a world without boundaries and that’s pretty scary.

So, even though your child will test and push the boundaries, don’t be afraid to set those rules and hold to them. In the end it will give your child a sense of security because he knows you are in control and are there to take care of him.

So, here’s to a world filled with smiling snowmen and little children who feel safe and secure!

As I write this blog post, the weatherman is predicting a storm coming through later this week. I can hardly wait to walk by the playground and admire all the snowmen standing there waiting to greet me!


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