Polar Express


It was the second day this week we wound up snowbound, so Clay shot toward the door Tuesday afternoon when I asked if he wanted to take a walk.

For me, it was a survival tactic. Boredom leads to compulsive behaviors. We already had barred entry to the upstairs bathroom and moved every paperback in the house out of reach. Preventive measures.

For the little guy, walking is what he was born to do.  He puts endless miles on his shoes every day. But trudging through the snow has its challenges. The great walker doesn’t like things on or near his head (hence the monthly haircut wars), so a hat to keep his ears warm is out of the question. He’s not a big fan of gloves, either. Boots he’ll tolerate. He’s used to wearing them for horseback riding.

We already caught him once that morning heading out the back door toward his swing in the garage without shoes or a jacket. For this walk, we managed to get him into his winter coat – with the collar open. My wife and I, meanwhile, bundled up Nanook-like against the bitter wind with over-sized winter coats, furry hats, gloves and lined boots. We were prepared to cross the Yukon Territory. He was dressed for a leisurely walk in the park.

Right away I could see things were going to be different. Our neighborhood does not have sidewalks. Usually, Clay will walk in the street, with us on either side keeping a wary eye out for the cars that speed by. For this trip, he insisted on walking in the snow, across people’s lawns, snow clinging to the bottom half of his sweatpants. Every couple of houses, we would encourage him to walk on the pavement, where it would be easier. He was having none of it.

On we went, up and down the streets in our usual loop, my wife and I in the road at a normal pace, Clay dragging behind like a polar explorer nearing the North Pole after a thousand-mile journey. All he needed was snowshoes, a beaver coat and some sled dogs to complete the picture.

We finally reached our driveway after what felt like a week’s expedition, faces burning, fingers tingling. Once inside the house, we peeled Clay out of the wet pants and socks and, after a brief break, parked him in front of his iPad.

“yay. good to get out and play,” he typed.

“Can you talk about why you walked in the snow instead of the street?” my wife asked.

” yes. i love the snow. it just has better mobility. my eyes need the underneath dormat.”

There you have it. It was all about traction and body awareness. The little guy knows what his body needs, even if it is hard for us parents to stay out of the way sometimes.


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