This weekend has been a little vacation from reality, and we didn’t even have to travel. Friday night was more or less normal. We heard snow was coming, but it’s always hard to say whether the promised snow will actually arrive. I don’t blame the forecasters; as far as I can tell, weather fronts act a bit like children. It’s impossible what predict precisely what they’ll do next, and they delight in making you look foolish.
Saturday morning I sang at a funeral, and the snow began during the service. I made haste slowly and arrived home with the expectation that we might not leave the house at all until Tuesday morning, since everybody had the day off on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We emerged this Monday afternoon, and made our way to the gym to work off the beginning pangs of cabin fever. Time in between seemed elastic. At least once, I realized I didn’t know for sure what day it was. It wasn’t that it was so long to be in the house. I think it was the lack of schedule. We had literally nowhere to be. I wasn’t sure how to act.
Saturday afternoon, Paul made good on a long-standing threat and made me learn how to change a tire. (As a bonus, I now have snow tires on my car, just in time to commute on snow-covered roads this week. ) I like to think of myself as a capable person, but I didn’t even know where to start. I could feel bad about this, I guess, but no one had ever shown me. The boys were also required in tire-changing class. Levi has helped with tires before and was happy enough to run the electric impact wrench because who doesn’t love a loud power tool? Elias was not at all interested but participated under duress.
Honestly, I am going to try very hard to have flat tires only when Paul is available, or failing that, Levi. He’s better at it than I am. I can still lift heavier stuff than he can, so I can handle the tires while he runs the wrench. But I am much less helpless in that area than I was 72 hours ago. I suggested that we repeat the exercise in the spring when the snow tires come off to see how much Elias and I have retained. Paul was very proud of me for thinking of it. Elias attempted to slay me with his eyes.
When Elias and I went back inside, I stopped him before he ran off. “You know,” I said, “I didn’t really want to spend time this afternoon getting dirty and dragging tires around either.” He looked mildly surprised.
“But I did it because it’s a good idea to know how,” I said, looking hard at his mouth as it opened on the beginning of an argument. “What if you and I were somewhere by ourselves and got a flat tire? Wouldn’t it be nice to know what to do instead of freaking out?”
I think it was the “what if” that got him. This child can think up more disastrous “what if” scenarios than anyone I know, including me. What if we got robbed and we woke up and then they killed us because we saw their faces, Mom? If you have an answer to this one that is not, “Well, we’d be dead,” can you let me know? Anyway. He’s familiar with the construct, and I think he liked having an actual answer to a what if. He nodded slowly.
“But we won’t know what to do,” I said, “unless we do the part we don’t like.” Long pause. Nod.
And doesn’t that just stink? There are so many parts we don’t like, parts during which we’d much rather be inside under a blanket reading. Parts that don’t pay off until much later, and maybe never.
But this is one of the things I am hoping to give my children, along with the skills to make their own food and clean a toilet (I am SO MUCH FUN at parties). The necessary skills to change a tire, yes, but more importantly, the fortitude to choose to do the hard thing now.
And if I learn it along the way myself, well, that’s a bonus.