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Published March 04, 2013, 11:35 PM

Parenting Perspectives: Passing seasons also means growing children

FARGO - As much as I love living in this area, my Tennessee constitution isn’t constructed for the long, cold days of winter in the Upper Midwest. My creativity tanks. I’m prone to bouts of crankiness (right, right – but, more prone than usual). And I can’t stay on task. But on a recent Sunday there was hope. My wife, three children and brother-in-law went sledding at Island Park.

FARGO - As much as I love living in this area, my Tennessee constitution isn’t constructed for the long, cold days of winter in the Upper Midwest. My creativity tanks. I’m prone to bouts of crankiness (right, right – but, more prone than usual). And I can’t stay on task.

But on a recent Sunday there was hope. My wife, three children and brother-in-law went sledding at Island Park.

I’m almost a little embarrassed of how much I like to sled. It seems like a child’s activity. But I love it. Perhaps this, too, goes back to my Southern roots. In Tennessee, the opportunities to zip down a snowy hill in a wheel-less vehicle, propelled by naught save gravity are rare. Maybe I have a little Scandinavian child deep down inside me who was deprived his sledding joy. (Actually, I’m pretty sure it’s nothing that complex. I think it’s just fun.)

At any rate, the golden sunshine, blue sky and burst of exercise were welcome reminders that day that winter 2013 will eventually end. I even saw some of that coal-black dirt of the Red River in a path worn on the hillside. In just a few weeks, green grass will spring from that soil.

These sorts of seasonal events help remind me that my children are growing, maturing and changing. In a previous trip to Dike West, my now-4-year-old son, Will, was irritated by the snow flying up into his face. But this time, he didn’t seem to care. His stubby, still-babyish legs carried his chunky little body up that steep hillside over and over again all for that few seconds of rapture zipping across the white snow in our little blue, plastic sled with Mom, Dad or Uncle Greg.

I was surprised at his toughness and fearlessness. Even when it became clear that his little legs were slowing down, he said he wasn’t ready to stop. He fell asleep in the van on the way home.

My twin 8-year-old daughters, Ariana and Talia, historically haven’t been terribly independent. They’ve always been very smart, talented, affectionate little ladies, but they often tended to be fearful as well. Sunday, however, they spent most of their time playing on their own, swooshing down the slope and then climbing up again. They competed with each other to see who could go the farthest. Every once in a while I’d realize that I hadn’t seen them in a while. They were just off doing their own thing.

These moments are gratifying as a parent, moments when you look around at your children and realize that the healthy process of maturity and development is happening. I’ve spent a good deal of energy hand-wringing and fretting about my children, worrying about this little issue or that little tendency.

Then, sometimes, you just turn around and they’ve changed – for the better. Like a blue sky and a bright ray of sunlight after a long winter, it certainly warms the heart.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Shane Mercer at (701) 451-5734.

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