Snowzilla has gone, leaving behind confused snowfall estimates, regrettable junk-food decisions, an incubating October baby boom and a lingering sense of dread for many parents.
The work ethic of our kids: Where is it? Where are the entrepreneurial snow shovelers?
For generations of enterprising children, snowflakes may as well have been dollar bills, y’all, falling from the sky.
Ding-dong, scoop, shovel, scrape, ka-ching!
Kids jostled to be the first to ring the doorbells of the snowed-in, the $5 driveways added up, and that new Atari Defender game cartridge, those rainbow Vans — yours and yours.
But in 2016? Not so much.
“3 ft of snow and NO kids knocking on doors to make money shoveling on a Sunday! What does that tell you? Sad state of affairs,” tweeted CNN analyst and retired NYPD detective Harry Houck.
“By the way, where are all the neighborhood kids wanting to make money shoveling snow?” asked Roberta Rinker of Silver Spring, who had had zero doorbell rings from children in her neighborhood and a huge shoveling job ahead of her.
All over social media, folks were telling kids to get off their Xboxes and get to work.
“Man where the young bucks at . . . all this snow. Kids ain’t makin no money,” tweeted Real Talk N’ Sports, a local sports podcast.
A few people were praising their hardworking kids. Tamara Wright Jackson’s son and his friend made $70 each shoveling snow in their Northeast Washington neighborhood.
At BWI Airport, Luis Ramirez, a 16-year-old from Glen Burnie, Md., was earning $20 an hour shoveling out dozens of cars in Long Term Economy Lot A.
Luis, a Glen Burnie High School junior who wants to run his own business someday, told my colleague Justin Jouvenal that he has been working 15- to 17-hour days.
“I don’t want to be lazy at home on my iPhone,” Luis said. “I check my Snapchat, and everyone is having a lazy day.”
It’s great to see that kind of drive and ambition in a teenager. But on our Capitol Hill street, it was only the grown-up hustlers peddling their shoveling. The precious snowflakes called neighborhood children?
“I got them outside to help me shovel, but then they just ended up playing in the back yard,” said the toughest, strictest dad I know, a square-jawed guy who manages construction sites.
“It was such a rare storm,” he said. “I had to let them play.”
I knew he was a softie.
In some places, kids were even discouraged from turning hard work into cash.
A couple of teens going door to door in New Jersey last year were stopped by police for operating without a license, just like the summertime lemonade-stand crackdown.
Politicians actually debated whether kids should have to get a $450 business license to shovel Old Lady Johnson’s walk down the street before passing a bill giving them special permission to shovel. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) signed it into law last week, just in time for the snow.
See, kids, some folks have to fight for the right to free enterprise.
While the blizzard was still howling on Saturday, my boys and I suited up for the pre-shovel.
That’s an important lesson, to keep shoveling as the snow falls, I explained.
They scooped, pushed and scraped. Then got bored.
The shovels are swords! And lightsabers!
“Get back to work!” I yelled.
And they did, trying to scrape up the snow they just stomped on.
“No, no, no. You have to shovel it before you tamp it down. Where is your logic? Your technique?” I said. Yikes. I sounded like my dad.
More scraping, scooping, then whining.
“I’m tired. My hands are cold.”
“My feet are cold.”
“The ice shards are flying into my face and cutting me up!”
The dread hit me. If this is their work ethic, what kind of future will they have? Will these kids, defeated by 20 inches of snow, ever make it out of my basement?
My 9-year-old says he wants to go to Georgetown University because he saw a lacrosse game there once. And he likes the bulldog.
“Georgetown? You think you’ll make it into Georgetown with this work ethic?” I warned as he tried to weasel out of shoveling. “College will be, like, impossible if you think clearing off these steps is hard.”
“Can we go inside and have hot chocolate?” they whined.
They won’t even make it out of high school.
A friend with equally slothful children commiserated with me.
“I know. I just had this talk. I gave up after a while,” she said. “It just wasn’t worth the whining.”
Last year, when we had a mere dusting compared with Snowzilla and the boys were 8 and 10 years old, they shoveled our stairs and sidewalk with verve, and then struck out to ring doorbells to make a buck.
The novelty of responsibility was fresh and delicious.
They got three customers: a politician’s wife who was encouraging and delightful, giving them a crisp $5 bill and a load of praise; another neighbor who paid $5; and $0 from a bleary-eyed millennial renter who promised to pay them but didn’t have cash. And never paid up long after the snow melted.
As school was closed for the big dig-out, I tried again to inspire some hustle in my little childlumps, whose only hustle was to get a sleepover going.
“There are still lots of cars buried out there,” I said. “I bet you can make enough money for that Lego Poe Dameron X-Wing you want.”
No spark in their eyes. What’s going on? Should I introduce them to Gordon Gekko? Am I raising a Bernie Sanders army?
“Mom. You say we have too many Legos,” one cleverly pointed out.
“We just want to play with our friends,” the other said.
Probably down in the basement.
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