On a recent cold and snowy night, I went upstairs to perform my usual ritual of checking in on my kids before hitting the sack myself. Five-year-old Olivia was sleeping peacefully. Huddled under her fluffy comforter, stuffed animal Toby was by her side. One down. On to the next bedroom.
David, 8, also asleep, was accompanied on his bed by several open motorcycle books and a Game Boy. As I tucked him in, I noticed something odd. Instead of his usual PJ attire -- a T-shirt and shorts -- my son was in dreamland dressed in a green turtleneck shirt. The same shirt put out for him to wear to school the next day.
Earlier in the day it had started to snow. This was really the first December snow and David was making all sorts of plans for an early rise. "Mom, how about setting my alarm for 5 in the morning, so I'll have enough time to shovel our driveway, eat breakfast and make the school bus?," was the first of his several requests.
We compromised. The alarm clock was set for 6:30 a.m. That would give him more than enough time to make the rounds with shovel in hand, eat, get cleaned up and catch the school bus at 7:40.
I had to laugh. Now here is a boy who has so much energy that from the moment he wakes up until the moment he falls asleep, he is going, going, going and then some.
Always offering to help out my husband, our son has, for several years begged us to let him cut the lawn (maybe when he is 12), use the chain saw (maybe when he gets his own house), use the snow blower (the shovel will do just fine for now, thank you) and assist with any type of home repair or building project that involves a ladder, high-powered sander or heavy machinery.
I pray that David will be this excited to help with the chores in, say, five or 10 years when he will rightfully inherit them.
I knew it was time to get up when I heard David trampling down the stairs ready for his first unassigned task of the day. After reminding him to zipper up and wear gloves, I was asked one final time if he could possibly use our big gas-powered snow blower.
"After all," he reminded me, his mouth partially covered by a wool scarf, "the weatherman said there may be up to 10 inches of snow in the Southtowns." Expecting my "no" answer, he was out the door and grabbing for his favorite Daddy-sized shovel while I babbled on about us not living in or near the Southtowns.
I must admit, I felt sort of sheepish letting him outside. It was still dark, and I wondered if my neighbors were thinking that this poor, sweet little boy was being forced outside on this cold morning by his mean parents.
About a half hour later, I called him in. By then, he had vigorously shoveled our driveway, the sidewalks on either side of our house and was working on the driveway of our elderly neighbors' home.
David, however, "was not, absolutely not" ready to come in. He still had big plans. Shovel more driveways, the street, the path to the bus stop and a nearby parking lot. It was his responsibility, he explained, to make our block the best snow-cleared street around.
Fortunately, hot chocolate and waffles managed to lure him in. Since that day, it hasn't snowed much, there hasn't been much talk about shoveling and David hasn't been sighted wearing a turtleneck shirt to bed either. Instead, he has been reading home center advertisements and admiring those 10-horsepower lawn mowers.
Joy Testa Cinquino, of Snyder, hopes her 8-year-old's enthusiasm for doing chores never wanes.