Posted by Heather Krill in Life After Paralysis on February 23, 2021# Lifestyle
Our kids are of the age where there has been some talk of earning an allowance. This is tricky to navigate because we want them to understand that some chores are just part of life and expected while others are extra helpful and maybe warrant an additional dollar or two. For example, making one’s bed, unloading the dishwasher, and putting away one’s own laundry ought to just be expected behaviors by these later elementar grades. And, well, if one’s parent uses a wheelchair to get around, one might add getting his wheelchair out of the back of his car, carrying his backpack inside, and taking his snow boots off.
Our son understands we cannot buy him everything he wants, nor would we even if we could. However, he recently came up with a chart to delineate how much certain tasks could be worth, and, even without our agreement, he is just placing checkmarks beneath them each time completed. I suppose he is doing this in the hopes that it equates to evidence that he is trying harder to be responsible. He views “the taking off of Dad’s boots” as 10 cents per boot, and to date, he has placed nine checkmarks. I’m tempted to see how long he will just go adding checkmarks without the monetary compensation. He has one checkmark under “Shovel the entire driveway” for five dollars. By shovel, I mean he moved all of the snow into one giant pile behind Geoff’s car so he could then fill our wheelbarrow to where he is building a giant jump. He is 11; this is what we do in NH.
But Geoff still eventually was going to have to move his car. This is when I envy the powerful groomers known as “snowcats” at Loon Mountain. One fell swoop would likely have leveled that pile down to the pavement. I know there is a person who is using a wheelchair that has invented the attachable plow to the front of the power chair– or maybe even a manual one– it isn’t exactly an accessory we could easily carry around with us like the power pack in my car. What I dream of on snowy days is for a little three-foot-wide “snow kitten” as opposed to the mountain-sized snowcat to plow a path for Geoff wherever he needs to push, whether it is through the parking lot at work or even here in the driveway when I’m not home yet. His work family is wonderful about brushing off his car for him on snowy days and making sure he can push his knobby tires through the mounds the snowplows leave behind, but a little magic “snow kitten” really would be perfect. He could snap his fingers like Go Go Gadget, and suddenly, the snow would just blow away.
Our neighbor David plows us out whenever the snow is too deep or heavy for my snowblower to handle, and we are grateful. He also tackles what we call the Snowplow Ridge officially as we live on the main road. Sometimes there is so much snow that the snowplow leaves a bit behind at the base of our driveway as he barrels down the road. David comes along with his tractor and just pushes it aside so easily and makes the area by our mailbox more manageable for our friendly US mail delivery person. Sometimes he even lets one of his little boys “drive,” and it makes me feel like they are the next generation of chore seekers like our own kiddos. And then, one day, we grow up and realize the truth. Nothing replaces the feeling of accomplishment and pride in one’s own yard or home or knowing that one has the ability to help out another person with a chore or task that may be hard for them given the equipment accessible to them.
Maybe there could also be a broom attachment so that when his wheels meltdown leaving a bunch of dirt and sand, the “snow kitten” just pops out with tiny little sweepers and the wet grit never finds its way to the bottom of my feet. Would that not be magical? Until then, I am thinking of adding a few more chores to our son’s chart’s bottom. If he wants checkmarks, I will give him some checkmarks! Until my magical snow kitten arrives, I will continue to send positive vibes to the rest of those wrestling with these winter days.
Heather Ehrman Krill is a writer- wife- teacher-mom who lives in the White Mountains of NH with her husband, Geoff, a paraplegic and professional skier, and their two children, Carver and Greta, who are 11 and 9, respectively. Please check out her novel True North, website http://www.heatherkrill.com, author FB page Heather Krill, and @heatherkrill1 on Twitter.