Children do not mind cold weather. They don’t mind climbing into snow suits and having ridiculous mittens dangling from their sleeves. It is with excitement that the first cold breeze enlivens their sensitive noses and cheeks and creates anticipation for hot cocoa after a good day’s work in the snow.
Note: this would not be the case for an unfortunate child who does not know he/she can play in the snow because he/she is too busy playing video games.
After the first major snowfall this year, and a significant one compared to the past few winters, I looked at my partner and realized that I did not own a sled and the plastic shopping bag that sufficed as a child was too large a step back into the perfect zen of childhood.
None of the local retailers had been prepared for snow, though. There weren’t any sleds available. My partner had never gone sledding. Weather being as erratic as it has been, who knew when we would have such ideal snowfall conditions? We are both tall people, with mingled levels of pride, and we have not been children for some time now. The recyclable bags from the Metro grocery store, with the plastic finish, became possible.
The snow was falling in slow motion all day long. Powder was white and fluffy all over the surface of my residential downtown Toronto neighbourhood. This is the kind of snow that muffles sound and creates a peaceful hush around anybody meandering outside.
This poetic solitude was broken as we came to the steep hills of Riverdale Park. The hills were covered with children, parents and us ‘other’ adult-children. The air was lifted by all types screaming and yelling as they hurled down the hills in plastic and fancy sledding devices, some stranger than ours.
My dear got over his pride faster than me and was soon hurtling down the hills with everybody else. I took too long to prepare myself and a little boy decided to help crying, “Ok, set, go!” and pushed me off the top of the hill. If I had been worried those bags would not work, concern was immediately removed. Too much of a coward though, I had to break and slow myself down with my poor mitts midway down the hill.
A man with his children offered to let my partner try his fancier sled, and off sweetie went again. I think his enthusiasm for sledding was so much that another couple offered to give him their spare plastic sled. Oddly, he preferred the recyclable bag. Those suckers are faster than some sleds and the bag handles make for good steering. He began to instruct me on how to best use the handles for maximum speed not realizing I did not want maximum speed.
To adults still not convinced that they can look this ridiculous, running up and down those slippery hills is a great cardiovascular workout.
The event reminded me of how children and childlike adults, when properly motivated, have work ethics and communication that would be the envy of any corporate department. We negotiated, enjoyed our space and played shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers. This, all without any prior team management or business communication seminars or workshops.
Why? Because our children were witnessing us? Because it was so cold and the air so full of adrenaline? Or because that’s just what happens when you agree to be very serious about play, shoulder-to-shoulder with your neighbours.