On snowy nights as a child I would flick on the backyard light and judge the snow coming down, along with the amount that had accumulated on the deck. I would go to bed hoping with all my might that in the morning the radio would announce that our school was closed. Usually my hopes were dashed and I would trundle off to school, jealous of those who did not share my fate.
The days of children waiting with bated breathe by the radio to hear if their school is closed are gone. Now the phone rings shortly before six in the morning, or even the night before, and the cheery prerecorded voice of the superintendent comes on telling us that schools are closed due to inclement weather or the chance of inclement weather. A friend, and fellow stay-at-home-dad, who lives in Bozeman, Montana, asked recently what constituted a snow day in Vermont. As near as I can tell, I told him, it’s a crap shoot. Of course I am sure it is more than that, some complicated formula. I called the cheery-voiced superintendent to ask but I never heard back from her. In Montana, my friend told me, if the buses start and the roads are passable there is school. They’ve had a few 9am starts because it was twenty below, but other than that no one can seem to remember when the last full snow day was. Some time in the 90’s is the best guess.
From journal entries I know that I’ve met snow days as an adult with dread and anxiety because I had other plans for the day. That is parenthood in a nutshell–make a plan and watch it fall apart for any number of reasons. I always assume I will have more time to write on snow days because the boys will sleep in and there will be no rush to get them off to school, but the boys never seem to sleep in on snow days. It is as if they have a sixth sense and are up and out the door at first light or one of them is up and pacing waiting for the other to wake up so that they can go out and play. On school days I have to drive them out of bed with my bad singing.
Despite my anxiety the snow days always seem to turn out to be great fun–as days usually do when you toss out your preconceived ideas and let the day unfold organically. The backyard and surrounding acreage are a blank canvas and the day follows its own special rhythm–outside at first light,t then back inside to dry out and warm up. Outside again a few hours later, and if it all works out, perhaps a third time when Mom gets home. When you ride the coattails of your children’s joy and wonderment, you’ll be hard pressed to hang onto the dour feelings we conjure up so easily as adults.