Thursday, December 10, 2009

I still have 'building anticipation', even at age 38!

For those of you who've lived where there is inclimate winter weather, you will completely be able to relate to this post, right down to the last snow flake.

Living here in the Midwest, one of the life's mysteries to a first grader is the concept of "snow day!" You hear all about it- older kids talking in the neighborhood or the school hallways and you wonder what is this magical thing of which they speak? It gets colder, snow starts to fall, wind blows, and all kids can talk about is "will we ever get a snow day!?" Then we hear that it's supposed to snow, maybe 2-6 inches. Then the wind is supposed to blow up to 40mph guts. Finally, we hear the wind chill numbers are somewhere near 60 below, and as a first grader, who even knows that the heck it all means, except everyone talks about "snow day!" It's the only time of the year when one could find elementary school age children glued to the TV news, waiting for the weather guy.

The next morning, mom yells that it's time to rise and shine and kids fly to the window to see, waiting with baited breath- is there snow? YES! Of course, everyone runs to the TV and stares at the local news waiting, hoping, praying, dancing the 'pee-pee' dance in anticipation that the name of YOUR school will be called for the glories of all glories- a SNOW DAY!

And when he names your school, kids jump up and down and scream and shout with glee. And immediately kids beg moms to go play outside. While children everywhere are celebrating this free weather gift, this respite from the evil hallowed halls of school, moms sag in lackluster defeat against the kitchen counter, gripping it for dear life, swearing at the weather guy, cursing him and is off spring, muttering "snow day" like it's the F-word, and rummaging cupboards for a hidden bottle of Valium or whiskey (for them or for their children? One of the mysteries of life).

Having the day off is great, like a new kind of freedom. It was also a mix of what could happen. If we got the snow day! off because is was freezing cold, like your nose will freeze and fall off your face if you're outside for 6 seconds cold, then you were trapped in the house. That meant TV, games, playing Barbies, and fights with siblings. If it was just a TON of snow- blizzard conditions- then we could GO OUTSIDE!!!!!!! Yippee!!!!!!!!!!

My mom was the one who told us if we got dressed and went out, we had to stay out. Now if that sounds like child abuse, then think again. Picture this: you have a kid that you get into long underwear, jeans, a t shirt, a long sleeved sweater or sweatshirt, then pile on the outdoor gear: snow pants, coat, boots, scarf, hat, and mittens. This takes about 20 minutes or 7 hours depending on the kid and the speed of the parent. My mom could have me ready and out the door in about 3 minutes, flat. Now, if she didn't have the 'go out and stay out' rule, all that work would've been for naught. One cold finger and it would be back inside, peeling off the layers like an onion and trailing melting snow from one end of the house to another while whining, "Moooooom, I'm boooooooooored". With 'go out and stay out' in play, then she had at least 30 minutes before I could press my little face against the door and wail, "Mooooooooooooooooommyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy, can I come in now? Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease? I'm coooooooooooooooold!" Hey, ya gotta do what ya gotta do. And she did.

Snow days in elementary school meant sledding and snowman building. It meant snow angels and eating snowcream. It meant catching flakes on your tongue and just running around like a little kid, loving the snow. As a teenager, it meant a day off from school, sleeping in. Oh yeah, you hear "snow day!" on the radio or TV and you called all your friends to squeal "snow day, ohmygod!" and make plans for later, and then went back to bed. It mean hanging out with friends if you could get to each other, maybe baking cookies, calling the local radio station to request your favorite song and then trying to record in on your cassette player when it came on, watching VHS movies, eating, reading, playing boardgames, and really, just chilling out.

The best snow days! of all were those that were announced the night before. That meant you could just sleep in and not have to get up to hear the magic words. The day off would be the same, but the suspense is less, and the night's sleep is better because that free day off is right there, baby!

I remember one time in '78 we were off school for three weeks because it was the worst winter storm the Midwest had faced in 70 years. I also remember when I was in high school that that we were off for almost 2 weeks because it would snow several feet, then the wind would blow, then it would warm up during the day and drop below freezing at night, creating an icy mess on the roads the next morning. It cycled like this for 2 weeks. This was also back in the day (omg, I'm old to be able to say that!) when we didn't have to make up school days missed to snow. Feh.

Which brings me to now. On Tuesday night, it was sleeting, then snowing, then sleeting and then snowing, then rained and it was supposed to freeze. I thought for sure on Wednesday morning there would be at least a 2 hour delay. Mac, Daddy-O and I all talked about it, and reminisced about our favorite snow day! experiences. There was a bit of anticipation and some of the old magic of "will we or won't we" hovering in the air. Then, there was nothing. It was a balmy 45 degrees when I left the house to go to my job: teaching SCHOOL. I felt bummed and let down.

Then last night- Wednesday-, Jack Frost reared his ugly head. The temps plummeted. The wind picked up and we had gusts between 20-30 mph. All the water on streets and sidewalks turned to ice. People lost power. Community activities all over town were canceled. The snow started falling. Again, will there or won't there be a snow day? Even at my age, I am still excited about the prospect of a snow day! It's part of the magic that still hums within me. Maybe a secret reason I went into teaching?

I don't know yet if the snow day! will happen, but rest assured, if it does, you will hear from me since I'll be curled on the couch, wearing my jammies, drinking coffee, and planning a nap!

My kingdom for a snow day,
Maggie Mae


Curley said...

Alas, there is very little snow, but they still might call it off over the temps. It is after all 9 degrees here. Great post.

Hecate said...

I get excited about snow days too, but I don't know why. Hell would have to freeze over for my school to close for the day. LOL

Bragger said...

I'm always a little embarrassed here in the South. One flake, and schools close, bread and milk fly off the shelves, and every idiot who can't drive in GOOD weather hits the roads. I confess, though, that I anxiously watch the list of school closings crawl across the bottom of the screen, crossing my fingers and toes and hoping, hoping, hoping....