Sarah Simpson

Sarah Simpson column: Snowballs fights and dead spiders

Even if it doesn’t end up how we hope, it’s the trying that matters most.

I picked my son up from school the other day and he was visibly tired and sweaty. It worried me. This is what happens in the world of COVID-19. Had be been exposed? Is he ill? Oh no. My son! My first-born! Will we all get it? Will I get it and not be able to take care of my family? Will we have to stop working? How will we pay our mortgage?

That’s my anxious mind during a pandemic.

It turned out he just had gym and was sweaty from being his six-and-a-half-year-old self and running like crazy for however long the class was.

Phew. I relaxed a bit. Pandemic panic averted. This time anyway.

“He’s a sniper,” his teacher said with a grin.

I looked at her quizzically as shooting isn’t something we regularly practice at home and I’m not so sure I’d like to raise a sniper. (OK, that’s actually not completely true. He really enjoys archery and I’m alright with that.)

I gather another teacher had gone to the dollar store and bought up all of the pretend snowballs after Christmas, and my son’s class had an indoor snowball fight during their gym time.

My darling son, and not just him he assures me, but all of his classmates, too, worked hard to peg off the teacher.

My boy has a good aim. It’s all because of socks.

My husband and I made a rule early on in our children’s lives, I’m not even sure when it was, and the rule was this:

The only thing we throw in this house is socks.

I figure we made the rule either after we had one too many balls thrown at us — we like sports in my house — or after that one time that everyone had to go outside for an hour and a half because somebody threw something that resulted in a broken glass shattering and me having to pick up everything, including the furniture, to make sure our crawling baby and toddler didn’t get hurt. (I was not a happy person that day. Neither was my husband who had the arguably harder job of entertaining two quite small children in a boring toy-less backyard while I cleaned.)

Anyway. The only thing we throw in this house is socks. They break the rule, of course. That’s what kids do. But in general, it’s followed and if they’ve forgotten, a quick reminder usually does the trick.

The rule, however, has resulted in an inordinate about of sock fights. After all, socks are permitted to throw and why not take advantage of the opportunity when it presents itself, right? We all seem to take advantage of it. I take great pleasure in nailing a kid square in the face with a pair of their socks. Or in the back when they aren’t looking. Oh calm down. It never hurts and they don’t even complain because IT’S A RULE. Plus, they just get me back? They throw them at me and the battle begins.

In any event, I laughed when I learned my kid had a good aim because I was oddly proud of him. I mean, I don’t condone attacking your teacher but there are few rules in a snowball fight and if your teacher is playing, well, she’d better keep her head up!

The snowball fight gym class at school made me remember the joy my son had when it snowed before Christmas. There is no joy purer than my child with a shovel. Dirt, sand, snow, whatever; he just loves to dig and always has. He spent hours outside digging and moving snow around the yard. Sometimes he had company in the form of the neighbour or his sister, but often times it was just him and his shovel and he couldn’t have been happier.

During one of those marathon digging sessions, He came to the front door and knocked the kind of knock you get when you’re wearing thick gloves and holding a shovel and a big chunk of ice. The kind I probably wouldn’t have heard had I not been watching him out front the window anyway.

I opened the door to find the boy, soaking wet, cheeks rosy, messy hair poking out from under his tuque. But instead of grinning like he usually did when digging, his face was grim as he held up a chunk of ice and snow.

Partially frozen into the ice was a spider. Just a few of its legs were submerged in ice and I feel like its torso was probably stuck as well. I’m pretty sure it had already met its fate.

“Mom, quick, put this guy in front of the fire to warm him up, please.”

This from the child who enjoyed throwing fake snowballs at school authority figures.

And with that, he thrust the ice block into my hand and took off to dig again.

Yeah, I’m the mom who found a container and defrosted a dead spider in front of our fireplace. I never want to discourage my children from trying to do good. Even if it doesn’t end up how we hope, it’s the trying that matters most.



sarah.simpson@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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