Dig To China? And Why Not?

Dec 29, 2009 by

Snow hit our little area of the world, six inches or so.

It started Christmas Eve, and even factoring our five-year stay in Alaska and other northern regions, it was our first white Christmas. The Sons of Thunder were rather pumped.  And of course we outfitted them in all the proper snow survival gear – being former Alaskans and what not. Or not.  Seems during our foray in Georgia we sort of purged all that.

Note to self – we’re back where it snows. Be prepared.  And yes, kids can turn blue.  And I’m talking a really deep royal blue.

Anyway …  We were rather barricaded in for a couple of days. Winds coming off the lake at 30 mph-plus have a tendency to do that, especially when you live right on the water.  They also have a tendency to create some incredible Sahara-like drifts.  One, about 30 feet long and five feet high, caught my attention.

Anyone can build a snowman.  Carrot nose, coal eyes, scarf, hat, that special wind that makes them come alive. Yeah, done that.

But a tunnel? Now that’s just flipping the dog. 

Due to my summer arm operation, I needed help to make this happen.  And I have the three Sons, so anything is possible.  While they are about as adventurous as you can get, at times they need a little coaxing.  This becomes more difficult right after Christmas when there are several new electronic games/toys to experience.

I am slowing learning, at glacial speed, that while they are all my kids, there are also all very different.  What works for one doesn’t work for another.  They are their own; they are individuals even at this age.  I probably will spend the rest of my life learning – and remembering – that.

We all should.

To my six-year-old: “Hey, want to build a tunnel to China?” Done.

To my nine-year-old: “Hey, it’s time to get off the Playstation/Gameboy/PSP/Whatever and come outside and play. Because I said so (damn, I swore I’d never use that line) and if you don’t, you’re off electronics for two days.” Done

To my 11-year-old: “Hey, I need help figuring out how to build this tunnel, and I’m too big to crawl in and break us through to the other side. Oh, and your friends will be totally blown away.” Done.

Fun is fun until there is work involved.  Their enthusiasm started to wane as they realized you actually have to dig out the snow to make a tunnel.  And wet snow is heavy.

Let us just say allegations of who was actually “working” started. Let us just say they started on the rules.

Let us just say said author was going to build this friggin tunnel regardless and ended all that.

As head engineer, I basically said “no” to getting two-by-fours to board it up and “no” to ropes in case of cave collapse.  I did institute the “no climbing on top of the roof of the tunnel” and “no throwing shovels at your brother” rules.

This was supposed to be fun.  So I also instituted the “dive” rule.  Basically, you could stand at the mouth of the tunnel and dive in.  The only rule was you had to bring snow out with you.  Now we’re getting somewhere.

So I’m at one end using a big shovel and shoving it as hard as I can to get through.  And the Sons are following the “dive” rule at the other end.  And it finally hits me we’re pretty close and I will probably take some Son’s head off  with the shovel.  That would constitute a “party foul.”  It would also mean various explanations to the Little Black Dress, so let’s just stop that idea now.

We abandon the “dad digging with the shovel” idea.  We also are at a point where the dive rule is no longer working as the Sons can literally be at either in with only their feet showing and we still haven’t broken through.

New plan.  The two older Sons are at one end.  I and the youngest at the other end.  One Son at each end crawls as far as he can and grabs as much snow as possible.  At the sound of “pull!!!!” I and the other Son grab the feet of the “miner” and pull them out along with all the snow they can grab.

Teamwork? With the Sons?

Sometimes, I have to just stand back and stare in astonishment, awe, amazement and several other appropriate words at my own brilliance.

Anyway … we finally break through.  And then the battle starts as to who will actually go first.  I somehow convince them to let the smallest/youngest go first.  This is agreed to as I point out the tunnel is still rather tight and he can make it larger for the other two. Plus, I point out that if one of the larger ones goes first, it might result in a CAVE IN from too much initial pressure.

The order is agreed upon.  Brilliance shines once more.

And they have a blast crawling through.  And the Little Black Dress comes up and takes pictures.  And by now I realize I’m approaching 50 and my arms are killing me and it’s absurd how cold I am.  And no, I’m not helping on the “side tunnel.”

My work is done.  Minimal rules.  Teamwork.  A “little” work.  A lot of fun.

The oldest and youngest Sons stay to work on the side tunnel.  The middle Son is the only smart one and comes back and hits the computer/PSP/Playstation/Whatever where it’s warm.

But we have a tunnel.  And we have three Sons who banded together to make it happen.

And we had a very, very, good day.

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  1. Juneaufriend

    I believe it’s your Birthday today…you may be approaching 50~ but not there yet, with stories like these you are forever young! Love and smiles….HAPPY BIRTHDAY from your friends in sunny, little snow, Juneau! Thanks for sharing another Winter’s adventure!

  2. Thanks for remembering. Still have a couple of years before the big 5-0, but I’m getting closer. ugh


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