A Lesson in Resilience … Shoveling Our Icy Driveway

There’s a lot of talk these days about the importance of grit and resilience, and how developing those qualities may be more important to living a successful life, however you define it, than possessing talent or genius. With that in mind, I focus on practice and trying hard with my kids, rather than telling them they’re smart or did a good job. In our house, the mindset we’ve adopted is that you can get better at almost anything through practice and learning. This week, we found and took the opportunity to increase our personal grit by tackling our frozen solid driveway.

Opportunity Knocks
Last Tuesday, we got about 4 inches of snow during the day. Once the storm starting letting up, I brought my kids outside. I shoveled while they helped a bit and mostly played in the snow. After we went inside, it continued to snow, and later, the snow turned to rain. The temperatures dropped overnight and we woke up to a frozen driveway.

I shoveled a path from the road to our mailbox for the mailman and was planning to let the sun take care of the rest. After I picked up my kids from school though, they wanted to slide around on the ice. While they did that, I decided to shovel a bit more. When they had enough of sliding, they got their shovels and started helping me.

At some point, it occurred to me that this would be a great exercise to build our resilience muscles. And it also seemed like a good way to score an “easy” win off of a seemingly daunting task. By easy, what I mean is that it was definitely doable with enough time and oomph. Seemingly daunting, because nearly the entire driveway was covered in full-on ice and the driveway never looked bigger.

Getting the Job Underway
We tackled it, bit by bit. I took out the ice scraper from my car for the more stubborn parts. Once I got the ice broken up, the kids would shovel it away. To keep morale up, we took a break after an hour to have lunch. After the second hour, we stopped for a water break and some oranges for fuel. My daughter went inside for a nap at some point.

It took 3.5 hours in total and my son stuck with me the whole time. He was having a blast and talked about how this was the best teamwork that had ever happened. His energy seemed to build on itself and at the end he was running back and forth on the driveway. It was a joy for me to see how he embraced the challenge and viewed it as an opportunity for us to spend time together and accomplish this goal we had set for ourselves.

We Did It!
When I told my husband later on about our project, he said ... oh no, I should have told you we have a bag of salt in our garage. I knew about the bag, and I did think about using it when we were down to our last patch and it just didn't seem to be budging. When I stood up at one point to survey what we had left, I noticed we had inadvertently formed a heart shape, perfect for Valentine's Day on Thursday.

That last patch was harder than doing the rest of the driveway, I think because my muscles were fatigued. But it meant something at that point to finish this with our own strength, and I powered through with that ice scraper … which held up remarkably well by the way. A neighbor stopped by and commented on how hard we were working. I really credit her for not suggesting salt or giving any other advice, she just let us go about our mission.

It felt great when we were done. My son gave high fives all around and we talked about what we had accomplished, the effort we had put in, and what we had managed to do together. Then we went inside for a cup of hot cocoa. I woke up that night with growing pains-like feelings in my arms, but I felt good about what we had done as a family. I think my kids absorbed the lesson of the day’s endeavor, and I hope they’ll carry it with them in the years to come.


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