The first snow of the year was falling outside our house in Silver Spring, Md. I was 4 years old and had a fever.
“I want to go out and play!” I cried.
“You can’t,” said my mother. “You’re sick. You’re staying inside.”
I begged, I whimpered, I whined, I screamed. My mother sat me on the narrow bench in the breakfast nook of our tiny kitchen. She wiped my damp forehead as her face got that set, tight look. “You’re staying inside.”
“I’ll wear my snowsuit,” I promised. I hated my bulky, restrictive snowsuit. I usually cried when I was forced to put it on. But if that’s what it took to be outside, where the flakes were beginning to cling to the grass, I would do it.
My mother took the stack of nested mixing bowls from the cupboard and held the blue one toward me. The blue bowl was “my bowl”—the smallest bowl in the set for the smallest person in the family. “Help me bake a pie? Don’t you want to help me bake a pie?” she cajoled.
“I want to play in the snow,” I cried. It was snowing. Snow! All the other kids would be outside. My brother got to go outside. I needed to go outside. It wasn’t fair!
Suddenly, my mother smiled. “OK. You’re going to play in the snow.”
She took the big bowl from the set, the green one that was too large for me to hold. “Stay here,” she warned as she disappeared down the front hall. I heard the door open and close.
The next thing I knew, she was placing the bowl—full of snow—in front of me.
I formed snowballs and stacked them on the table. I made a tiny snowman and set him in the middle of the bowl. Soon, my snow creations melted into a puddle in the bottom of the bowl.
I had my fun, but now I was cold. My mother took my stiff hands between hers and rubbed them until they were warm. “Hot chocolate?” she asked.
When it snows, I remember my mother’s clever ways of managing my cranky obsession. And I remember how much she loved me.
The AARP Bulletin’s "What I Really Know" column comes from our readers. Each month we solicit short personal essays on a selected topic and post some of our favorites in print and online. Susan J. Grodsky is a reader from Potomac, Md.