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Published January 11, 2011, 12:00 AM

Parenting Perspectives: Storms test love-thy-neighbor credo

There are lessons to be learned during a North Dakota blizzard.

By: Kathy Tofflemire, INFORUM

There are lessons to be learned during a North Dakota blizzard.

For me, it was: Don’t go to work when inclement weather is forecast without packing a toothbrush, medication and a change of clothing – just in case you are stranded downtown for two days, which I was during the New Year’s holiday. Also, throw a little extra food in the cat’s dish.

And when you think to yourself, “Get your car off the street and into the parking lot,” do it. Snowplows have no mercy. At first glance, I feared my car would either be towed away courtesy of the city of Fargo or stay where it was until April.

But there are larger lessons offered during a Midwest winter, and my daughter is determined that my grandsons learn them.

To her, winter storms equal compassion. She’s been known to stop and help drivers out of snowy predicaments.

Bad weather seems to bring out the best in some people and the worst in others, sometimes at the same time.

When my daughter got stuck for the second time during the first night of the holiday storm, someone stopped to help her and my older grandson dig out their car. Another larger vehicle stopped to serve as a buffer to the rest of traffic. But the young men in the vehicle never got out to lend a hand.

Though not always faithful in our church attendance, my daughter and I have been Methodists all our lives. The main tenets of our faith are love God and love your neighbor. And the abiding principle is grace.

My daughter and I laughingly remind each other to remember our grace when loving our neighbors is difficult – like those “neighbors” who stopped to “help.”

On the second day of the storm, my grandsons were witness to my daughter going out to help a teenager who collapsed in a snowdrift across the street from their apartment.

We’ve had some evidence that the lesson is getting through to my daughter’s 11-year-old. When the building’s maintenance man went out to shovel the sidewalks after the New Year’s Eve storm, my grandson asked his mother if he could go out and help.

The man’s wife said he “couldn’t believe that boy came out to help me.”

My daughter wasn’t surprised by his gratitude, but the “couldn’t believe” part bothered her. Helping someone shouldn’t be something unbelievable or heroic; it should be the natural order of things.

When I was a teen, we used to go around town during the winter looking for people who needed assistance – not because it was the right thing to do but because it was a lark to get out in the snow and push vehicles.

Either way, Methodist founder John Wesley would probably be proud.

Readers can reach Kathy Tofflemire at (701) 241-5514 or ktofflemire@forumcomm.com