Snowman Carnage

I’ve already posted about this on Facebook, but the incident seems to require its own entry.

See the lovely snowman at the top of the page? The snowman that Owen and I built together last weekend? Well, on Monday, someone broke his nose off. Owen was a bit sad, so I went inside to get another carrot. The snow had hardened to such an extent, though, that I couldn’t get the broken carrot out.

We live in a college town. The place is full of CEGEP (and high school) students, many of whom walk past our door daily on their way to their cars, to the village, or to the waterfront. I love living in a college town. I love bumping into my students while pulling Owen on a sled or while shopping in town. I have in general had a great rapport with my students. I’m fond of them, like to see them outside of class, and have never (yet) felt threatened.

Other teachers have felt threatened. Just last semester, a colleague of mine received a very serious death threat. We deal with (potentially and actually) mentally unstable students on a regular basis. I know two other colleagues who are presently uncomfortable because of behaviour of students in their classes, behaviour that has the very real potential to get outside the classroom and closer to their homes.

So when I tell you this story, please realize that I do not really feel threatened. And yet.

On Tuesday, Owen and I got home to our half-nosed snowman. The snow was softer, so we replaced the nose with a new carrot. Owen was pleased. We stood outside and chatted about how the squirrels that are trying to get into our house should really try living in a tree.

“We say ‘No squirrels! You not eat our house. You make a hole in a tree! That’s a good idea!'”

After a while, we went inside. When I re-emerged at about 6:45, on my way to take some students to a play, the snowman was gone. I looked closer. The body had been knocked over and its head was on our front porch. Our neighbour came out of her house and asked if we’d heard the head hit the house. We hadn’t, but she had. Whoever did it ran away and in the process (apparently) almost got hit by a car.

Again – I know, right? – it’s a snowman. It’s not like someone left a horse’s head on my front step or anything. But I couldn’t stop wondering – coincidence or conspiracy? I started searching my brain for anyone in my classes I might have offended. Honestly, I think it was completely random, an act of stupidity, probably fuelled by friends.

Owen was surprisingly philosophical: “Maybe the man will come tomorrow and say he sorry. That would make me very happy,” he said, nodding his head.

The next day he told Duncan that he needed to build another “strong” snowman.

He’s still (actively) waiting for that apology. Still, I was really pleased to see his toddler sense of justice – you do something that isn’t nice, possibly impetuous, but then you always apologize, and all is right with the world.

First Snowman

On Saturday, Owen and I went outside to play in the snowy backyard. Our venture wasn’t totally successful. I tried to interest Owen in snowballs and accidentally threw one (a soft one) in his face. He was surprised, but didn’t cry. He kind of liked it when I threw them at his feet. The snow was almost sticky enough to make a snowman, so with some effort, I rolled a big ball of snow into position and made Owen stand and pat it with his mittens. He was tired, so once he fell over he made little effort to stand back up and sat staring at my attempts to make not-very-sticky snow bind together. Eventually, we had a smallish snowman. I ran into the house to get a carrot and some grapes, knowing that it would be the face that would transform this activity from boring and cold to awesome and magical. Initially, Owen was more interested in eating the grapes than helping me make the face (Note: icy cold grapes are really delicious and should be consumed outdoors more often). Once the face was complete, though, Owen understood (I think) what we were doing out there.

That night, we waved goodbye to the snowman from Owen’s bedroom window, and the next day, whenever we encountered a snowman in a book, Owen would point at the picture and then gesture outside, as if to say: we too have a snowman. It started to snow again on Sunday morning, and that snow turned to rain by evening. By morning, our snowman’s head had fallen off. I thought Owen might be troubled by this development. After all, he hasn’t seen the cartoon about Frosty the Snowman and how he’ll be back again someday.

This morning, encountering another snowman in a book, Owen got off my lap and trotted into the kitchen, pointing toward the back yard. I lifted him up to show him the decapitated snowman.

“He’s there, but he lost his head,” I said.

“Uh oh,” he replied. “Bye bye.”

Indeed.