Last week, I watched my kids play on a hot sandy beach in Mexico, happily toting buckets of sloshing water back and forth. “I’m digging to China!” my 6-year-old shouted.
This week, I watched my kids play on a frigid snowy beach in Michigan, clomping along a dune-whipped terrain that appeared otherworldly. “We are on the moon!” they shouted with glee, staring out at the gray frozen waves, waiting for a watery crash that would not come.
By Monday, we will have experienced a nearly 100-degree shift in temperatures in a matter of days.
There is something awesome about that. The kids run towards the extremes with their arms outstretched, delighting in where they are. Their skin is peeling off in sheets, first ravaged by sunblock and salt and heat; now depleted of humidity in the subzero temperatures. Still they play, scrambling to get away from us as we slather them with Aquaphor.
Schoolbags from two weeks ago remain untouched where they were flung. Playing is hard work, and it requires undivided attention. While their dad and I take turns shoveling, shoveling, shoveling the snow that keeps falling from the engorged clouds, the children make believe.
They dress up. They imagine. They build. They cut up little bits of paper that flutter into every corner of my kitchen. Tiny pieces of tape cling to the edges of chairs and tables as the kids create tape-and-paper books, homemade cards, paper boats and doll clothes.
The hum of contented playing roars into a crescendo of arguing and fighting. Suddenly the ignored toy that has been sitting in plain sight for 6 months is the object of everyone’s fierce desire. There are screams and yells, tears and protests.
And just as suddenly as it came, the storm inside our house goes. We drink hot chocolate and watch a movie. We snuggle on the couch under a pile of blankets that are stained with dried paint from art projects, hard scratchy bits that interrupt the fleecy softness.
Hour after hour, the storm outside rages on. We shovel, scraping out a path from house to alley, alley to street. I am tempted to throw the shovel out in the yard and let the snow bury it. Let it trap us in, where we are warm. Let it cocoon us and cut us off from the world. No grocery shopping, no school, no ice skating lessons or swim team practices. No Hebrew and no ballet class.
Let the snow create a barrier. Go ahead. White out the rest of the world.
Would we be so fortunate as to lose a pathway to the Internet as we have lost a pathway to our street? Can the news feeds and the blog posts and the links be buried under a blanket of ice? The past two weeks were the longest break I have taken from writing in years. I can’t remember when I was last so happy for so many days in a row. The extent of my social media use was to share a few pics of the girls, post a funny story from vacation.
No time spent writing articles, no time taken from my family to read and share links, no pressure to network and read blogs and write blogs and keep a foot in the door in the latest developments in bullying prevention or girl empowerment or geek culture or parenting publications.
Can Twitter and Facebook take a snow day? Or a snow month? Can the snow transport us back in time, back to a slower pace? I gaze at my children, joyfully playing. My oldest at age ten does not know how soon it will all change. She is free now. She has no email account, no cell phone, no iTouch or iPad or electronic device that commands her attention and focus.
She plays. Not candy crush. She plays old-fashioned games. As I write, she is playing cribbage with her dad. I close my eyes and wish for the snow to freeze time. I don’t want her to enter the world in which I find myself, the world of digital social media. I fell into it, unexpectedly at first. it used to be that authors wrote books. Now we also need to maintain a social media presence. A platform, as the publishers call it.
I could walk away from it all, I think. But writing is like breathing, and I would miss it. Already I find myself leaning into the familiarity of typing words on a computer, the comfortable clicking of the keys.
Let the snow come, if just for a little longer.
Get your award-winning copy of Carrie's book Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear.