Irritation and Invitation spelled: s h a r i n g

A Group of Children Playing at 'Tug of War' in a Domestic Interior by Harry Brooker, 1891

A Group of Children Playing at ‘Tug of War’ in a Domestic Interior
by Harry Brooker, 1891

I wanted my Phys. Ed. classes to skate this month. An outdoor rink maintained by the township was available. As precaution only, I drove over to check the ice the morning of our first skate. To my surprise,  a foot of uncleared snow covered the rink. The township office said the man who cleared the ice only worked evenings and he’d been tied up the night before.

Was there anything else? Did I need to reserve the ice?

No, I said. No one will be there in the middle of the day. We’ll be gone by 3.

I called my husband . . . My father-in-law’s house and snow blower were nearby. I’d changed my mind about the usefulness of snow blowers. Was there any way he could leave work and come show me how to use one?

Helpful husband came. My lesson lasted two minutes. I had to do the whole rink twice, but I made it to the school in time to eat my lunch and load up kids. I was pleased with myself, a little tired, but pleased. On the way over I noted that the only child in the required helmet category who had forgotten theirs was mine.

We pulled into the parking lot to see hockey nets at either end of the rink. Three young men in their early twenties were on the ice just starting a hockey game. I might have been speechless at the irony (there was no way they’d be playing hockey right now if I hadn’t spend my morning getting the ice ready for them) but I had a cars full of excited skaters eager to lace on their skates and get started.

Negotiations were a little tense at first. Appealing to the generous side of sunshine starved strangers (just arrived to enjoy the warmest winter day in weeks) is not an easy sell. They bent a little. I bent. They bent. I felt like I’d walked into a remedial course on sharing. My first skaters were weak enough I knew we didn’t need the whole rink. I marked a middle line and we shared the ice with the hoodie lads. They got the ice to themselves when we drove to swap group one with group two. Hoodie hockey men agreed to give us the rink to ourselves for the older group.

It’s no wonder people fight over countries and resources. For a few minutes, I almost couldn’t see my way through to sharing a rectangle of ice on a glorious winter day. By the time we parted ways, we were new friends thanking each other.

Sharing is a terrible thing. Who knows why we tell our children to do it. Sharing means you don’t get everything exactly the way you want it. Worse, you have to admit that other people are as valuable and deserving of happiness as you are. Nasty stuff that.

And cheers to the hoodie men for making it work.

1 Comment to Irritation and Invitation spelled: s h a r i n g

  1. Dale Sipple says:

    Incredible comment on the hard work of living together! Powerful.