You'll Go Outside and You'll LIke It

Frozen earth, stiff corpses . . . sledding is just not fun
I’ve been doing quite a bit of writing about how important it is to take your kids outside once in a while. (And when I say writing, I mean regular writing - the grown-up writing I do. Not this lark.) The newest fear among child experts is that our kids are staying inside too much. They’re exposed to too much electricity, artificial light and inside voices, and not enough dirt, air and bugs.  The result is that kids today are whippersnappers.

I agree, but taking kids outside every day is easier said than done. It’s hard. And parents who do it regularly should be commended. I did OK in that area when my kids were little. On nice days we would even drag the play kitchen out to the driveway. My daughter and I regularly played Barbies on the front porch. I figured if something was so small and lightweight that it blew away, it wasn’t worthy of Barbie’s Dream Closet Accessory Drawer; kind of the Mattel version of natural selection and survival of the fittest.

But then Mother Nature, that bitch, would go all ice queen on us, and make winter come, every single year. And I became a candidate for Worst Mom Ever. I can’t tell you how much I hated playing in the snow. I did it. You bet I did it. I built snowmen, I participated in snowball fights, I even sledded, despite my claim that sledding is the stupidest human pastime. A poor man’s roller coaster. Stupid. And let’s not forget dangerous. Kids sled down hills that end at busy highways, big cement pipes, and iced-over waterways. Just stupid.

I did it. But I didn’t enjoy it. My memories of playing outside with the kids in the winter are of them lunging around like little Michelin Men in their snowsuits and me standing in the corner by the garage with my hands in my pockets and my head down in my coat collar, stamping my feet to stay warm. The only thing missing from the complete picture was a cigarette. I’d leave my sheltered corner occasionally to pick up some snow and toss it at someone, curl up on the ground to make a snow angel fetus, or pick up one of the Michelin Men when he had fallen onto his back, and, legs, arms and antenna waving around, was unable to get up. I took my time. The exercise was good for them and their little exposed faces were pointing up to the sun. Good dose of Vitamin D.

But at least I can say my kids went outside. They weren’t pale and pasty, they were skinny enough, and they were dirty at the end of a day. My work here is done.