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Having a Say

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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My children were convinced that the snowstorm last week was their doing. No doubt about it. And as that snow resulted in school closing, they were also convinced that every teacher and student in the county should shower them with praise. They seemed quite smug about the whole thing.

This magical manipulation of nature involved a rather unorthodox and highly secretive ritual performed the night before—they flushed two ice cubes down the toilet. According to the theory, one cube produces approximately two and a half inches of snow. Good for snowballs, but not for closing school. Hence the extra cube. Five inches would certainly do the trick.

I’d never heard of flushing ice cubes down the toilet to guarantee a snow. Tossing the snow shovel into the middle of the front yard always worked when I was a kid. And occasionally still does. Everyone knows it always snows when you can’t find your snow shovel.

There were also other means of coaxing a snow day. Prayer worked for some, so long as it wasn’t the sort of appeal drowned in begging and false promises to never ask for anything again. Not doing one’s homework was also a possibility, though that option was fraught with dangers and so was meant for only the boldest of souls. And there were a myriad of snow dances out there, most of which were performed with intricate movements and much flipping and flopping of body parts. Preferably outside.

I hoped my children did not come to adopt those methods. Prayers should be for others, homework should always be completed, and snow dances performed outdoors could make people think you’re crazy. So I supposed flushing a few ice cubes in the privacy of one’s home really was the best choice.

But then there was a problem. That fortunate turn of circumstances left my children drunk with power. They were now convinced that as long as the freezer had ice, school was a nonissue. And then they began wondering what more they could do and just how far their newfound power extended.

Maybe if they flushed a candy cane, it would be Christmas every day.

Or if they flushed a flower, warmer weather would come.

Would flushing a piece of candy bring Halloween? Or a small candle the next birthday?

The possibilities were endless.

Not being the sort of father willing to crush possibility, I allowed them their reverie. I considered it a lesson, the important kind where no one can tell you and you have to figure out on your own. I’d been there. So as long as they didn’t try to flush something that would stop up the plumbing, I wouldn’t interfere. Sometimes tough love was the best love.

We all dreamed of having a certain amount of control over life. The randomness and unpredictability that came along with being in this world could be a little too much to bear sometimes. That everything could change in an instant scared us and made us realize just how small we really were. And who wanted to be small?

But if we somehow got the notion that we can control events? That if we believed a certain thing or acted a certain way everything would always turn out the way we wanted? Then we started thinking that maybe this big, bad world wasn’t so big or bad at all. That maybe we could handle things quite well on our own, thank you. So we started feeling a little bigger. A little puffed up.

My kids were feeling pretty puffed up. They flushed more ice cubes and relished in the fact that they’d have a whole week to stay home.

I was already at work the next day when they rose to find the roads clear and the school open. From what I heard, though, there were plenty of bad attitudes and more than a few tears. But I knew they would go anyway. Knew they would come home laughing, too.

In between they would take a small step toward the knowledge that while they don’t have much say in a lot of what would happen in life, they would have a lot of say in how they responded to it.

And maybe, just maybe, that’s what mattered most.

Post by Billy Coffey of billycoffey.com. Photo by Ann Voskamp of Holy Experience.

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