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Monday, December 31, 2012


I was expecting to bring Bubs 1 sleigh riding with our neighbors yesterday morning, but the driveway needing shoveling first. Roughly ten inches of snow just fell over night. The bubs graciously helped out (with a promise of an Angry Bird pillow, from his mom).

It's not automatic that Bubs 1 is always willing to help out. Bribery helps. We're still teaching him to be one of those people who offer themselves, when nobody else does. We still have some more road to cover, but he's getting there. His mom got him outside, "May I help you daddy?" he asked.

I handed Bubs 1 a smaller shovel. It was the perfect size for a four-year old. He used it for a few scoops of snow. I was able to capture his shoveling technique in a few photos. He then set it down. "It's too heavy. Can I use your shovel, daddy?" he asked me. I didn't explain that it was the snow scoop that made his shovel "heavy." Instead, I decided to let him discover that for himself. "My shovel's just as heavy, bubs," I responded. Bubs 1 ignored my response. "Can I use your shovel, daddy," he asked again. He has a knack for side-stepping information that he does not want to be told. 

Good use of knees, but also too heavy

So, I decided to let him use my shovel. I didn't say a word. I just handed it over. He took it and positioned it for a scoop of snow, but he seemed to realize something before even attempting to operate dad's shovel. It was too big.
Shovel too big

I captured a picture of his expression. Looking at this photo tells me that there would have been nothing that I could have said to explain/transfer the knowledge he just constructed on his own through his own discovery. He held onto the longer handle a few more seconds and then dropped it on the ground. He turned back towards the garage.
Bubs heads back to the drawing board

"I'm going to get another. I'll be right back, " he said to me, as he headed back to the garage. I assumed that he was going to retrieve the planter shovel. You know, the hand-held shovels used to dig in a garden. Sure enough, he came back with one. He used this shovel for a while, but he wasn't moving as much snow as he was with the larger shovel. Although, he worked harder with the smaller shovel. I thought this would be good for his sensory deficit needs. "Heavy work" is good for that.

He lost the little shovel in the snow, a few times. He asked me where it was each time he lost it. I said, "I don't know. Where did you have it last?" This helped him look for it on his own. He found it every time. "Oh, there it is!" he'd say, while pointing at it.

He's four years old.

All this snow spurred a childhood memory. I was 11 years-old and my mother brought me with her on a visit to her friend, Ruth's house. Ruth had a son named Billy. Billy was differently abled. Although he was about 5 or 6 years older than me, he operated at my level, mentally. I remember Billy had shoveled paths through some deep snow in his front yard. It was a maze and the snow walls were pretty high. We ran through them for hours outside while our moms visited inside. We all went somewhere after. I can't remember where, but I do remember being at a store where Billy was paying the cashier for an item he was purchasing. I specifically remember Ruth, standing behind Billy, as he slowly interacted with the cashier. Her eyes were smiling as she watched her son.

Later, in the car on our way home, my mother told me that that was Billy's first time purchasing anything. It was his first time exchanging money with a cashier. I remember feeling some sort of understanding when I heard that, but I was not a parent yet. I now look back on that moment with more empathy for Ruth and the concerns she must have been dealing with. Ruth was a warm person and she like my mother very much. I could tell. She provided some space for my mother to live in her home, after my mom lost our house to the bank. My mom slept on Ruth's downstairs couch for a few months, before my mother moved in with another friend until she got back on her feet.

During that time in my life, I had moved in with my father, who was living with an aunt and uncle of mine. Later, when he moved into his second home, I shoveled the driveway at that house. That driveway was not much longer than his car, so I never had a big shoveling job to undertake.

The driveway that Bubs 1 and I just cleared is much longer than any driveway where I've lived before. Now that Bubs 2 is beginning to walk, I may have to purchase a second gardening shovel and get him out there on the next snowfall too.

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