Imagine you are in charge of spreading the word about a major snowstorm, and you’re tasked with informing two different groups (of roughly about 100 people) of the storm. Your first stop will be at a Fortune 500 insurance company, and the second will be an elementary school.
Once all the insurance people shuffle into their conference you break the news, “Hey everyone, we are expecting a MAJOR snowstorm tonight that ought to drop about 8 inches of snow on us”. Now imagine their reaction. Don’t you imagine a lot of groaning and general belly-aching from them? I’d expect to hear, “Oh great, looks like I’ll be shoveling all night tonight”, “Well, it looks like my kid’s band practice will be canceled”, “Oh great, right after my snow blower dies. This is just great.”
But imagine you delivered the exact message to a gym-full of first graders. They’d all cheer immediately and start making their snowy plans, “I’m gonna make a snowman with my cousins!”, “I hope my Dad takes us sledding!!”, “I’m gonna drink hot chocolate all day”
Without many people noticing, snowstorms are quite polarizing. That’s not to say that people often argue about the merits of a snowstorm (they don’t), but people either love or hate them. What I’ve noticed in recent years is that the polarization of opinion appears to be a function of age. If you told 100 adults about a snowstorm, I think all 100 would grumble, but if you told that to 100 kids, they’d all be elated.
So what happens to us between childhood and adulthood that makes us hate snow? More importantly, if we never learned to hate snow, would we stay young forever? A lot of adults, whom I agree with, like to say that kids are born great until adults screw them up. Is snow-hating an adult-learned behavior that screws us up?
I say that hating snow is one step towards being an adult stick-in-the-mud, fuddy-duddy and here is the exception to prove the rule: imagine counter-examples to my theory and see who seems like the more cheery soul. So let’s imagine an 85 year old man is ecstatic about the snow and a first grader is bummed about the snow because that means the roads will be slick on his ride home from school. Of those two people, who sounds like the more fun person to spend time with? Right, the snow-lover.
During that example you can’t help but think, “Man, an 85 year old that loved snow sounds like an awesome dude and young for 85!”, whereas with the kid you think, “What kinda morose kid doesn’t love snow??”
So what exactly is going on here? My guess is that it’s symbolic of life: kids revel in the play-aspect of the snow, whereas the adults focus on what can go wrong, knowing they’re ultimately responsible for fixing any problems wrought by the snow. It’s a lot like how kids grab a menu and look for tastes the best, whereas the adult who will be picking up the check is probably gonna look at the prices at some point.
When most adults hear snow, here is what their pessimistic mind tells them they may be in for:
1. More work- ugh
Shoveling the driveway, sidewalk, throwing down salt, maybe helping neighbors, checking on the elderly, maybe stockpiling some food, making sure you’re ok in the event of a power outage, making sure you have emergency
supplies in the trunk of your car, etc.
2. Potential for bodily harm or property damage- gee that sounds great
You could fall and break your hip, get into a car accident and hurt yourself, or at least hurt your car, your roof could leak or cave
in from excessive snow, pipes could freeze, if enough snow piles up around your windows the pressure could break your window, your heating bills will likely increase, etc.
3. Schedule re-working- ugh, just what I wanted
Snowstorms mean cancellations- school, practices, dinner plans, travel plans, meetings and casual get-togethers can get canceled and re-scheduled with a big snowstorm. And if there is one thing moms hate it’s when plan A doesn’t go according to plan.
And here are three things children tend to focus on with a snowstorm:
1. They’re pretty- so enjoy them
Snow seems to be some about the first “nature” kids like. It’s rare to hear an 8 year old note a scenic sunset, or comment about the nirvana-like tranquility of a lake, but they’ll jump and sequel when they see a good snowstorm.
2. They’re rare- so enjoy them
How many times is a kind handed a lollipop or ice cream and told, “Ok, now THIS IS A TREAT. I’m not gonna give you one of these everyday, but you can have one now, so enjoy it, ok?”? All the time. Kids are trained to appreciate treats and they know this may be the one time all year they get to play in snow and they’re ready to take full advantage and have a year’s worth of fun at a moment’s notice.
3. They’re fun- so enjoy them
Kids have it easy, they like playing more than adults so it makes sense they’d literally “enjoy” the snow more than adults. So we need to delve into our adult bag of tricks to find ways to enjoy it. Either by focusing on the beauty of a snowstorm, or how we’d miss the snow if we lived in the Cayman Islands, or how we’re eager to see how well our new gloves do in the snow, or appreciative that the snowstorm forced you to shovel snow for an hour and burn calories that would’ve been permanently affixed to your midsection had you not gone out and shoveled.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, adults, but generally speaking, kids have a FAR superior outlook on show than we do. I don’t think it’s snow per se that turns adults into fuddy duddies, but rather, snow reveals our inherent fuddy-duddyness that comes with adulthood- something fun happens and a kid thinks, “Wow! Fun!” and the adult sighs and asks, “What’s the catch?”. It’s not the snow’s fault you think that, but it’s a good time to catch yourself drifting off into curmudgeon territory and do something about it.
The good news is that there is still snow on the ground and it’s not too late to join in the fun. That is, once you are all shoveled, stocked up on food, aware of canceled appoints and all your elderly friends, family and neighbors are ok.