Sometimes all it takes is something simple to break the ice.
I was shoveling my front walk one day in early January when I noticed the little neighbor boy across the street doing the same. His family moved in last summer. I didn’t know any of them because I hadn’t really spoken to them except to say hi occasionally.
Pausing for a minute to catch my breath, I shouted out, “Getting heavy, isn’t it?”
That’s all it took.
From that little opening, without me saying another word, I soon discovered the boy is in the third grade, the second youngest of five children, four boys and one girl.
His younger sibling, another boy, had shoveled the same path a littler earlier but it hadn’t take him nearly as long, which the older boy couldn’t figure out. Maybe the snow had gotten deeper since then.
His sister is in high school, but she doesn’t like to shovel and doesn’t think she has to.
The boy was sure glad he didn’t have to go to school that day because he had a reading test he didn’t want to take. He doesn’t mind math; reading, however, is another story. Hopefully, his teacher would forget about the test and he wouldn’t have to take it the next day.
He likes this school better than his last one, although he misses some of his friends. Some friends he doesn’t miss.
Everyone in his family likes their new house, which is bigger than their old one.
When he got done shoveling, he and his brothers were going to build a snowman, probably in the front yard. Of course, they could also put it in the back yard, he wasn’t sure yet. That’s what they had to decide.
His dog likes to play in the snow. His cat doesn’t.
His father was getting off work at 3.
His mother doesn’t work so she’s always home. Sometimes she babysits.
His mother has a sister, who does work. She gets off at 5. She also drives a big station wagon. I’ve probably seen her park it in front of their house when she comes to visit.
He’s looking forward to spring so he can play baseball, which he likes almost as much as soccer and much more than basketball. Basketball is hard. Soccer isn’t.
He told me a number of other things, most of which I couldn’t make out. He seemed a little irritated when I asked him to repeat himself, so I stopped asking.
Ever since our little conversation, which was no longer than five minutes, the little boy smiles and waves whenever he sees me. If I don’t see him first, he’ll call out to me to get my attention.
I think I might have made a friend, even though I still don’t know his name.