Monday, February 5, 2007

Snow day

Hallelujah! A snow day. Bloody cold temperatures today is what keeps the schools closed in all of southeastern Wisconsin. What is it about school snow days that bring out the utter child in me? I did a ridiculous dance with fist pumping action this morning… alone….in the dark of the kitchen…at 5:30. It isn’t just that I work in the school district, although an unexpected day off is completely awesome, don’t get me wrong. But I have always been delighted by snow days, on behalf of children in every city I have lived, despite my work situations. Most of my work life, I have often been one of the few workers in these cities who actually has to go to work in very bad weather…and yet I am always delighted for the school kids. It’s like Christmas morning!

It is especially sweet telling my own kids they have a snow day. For example, my exchange this morning…I wanted to catch my daughter before she got up and into the shower…
“Olivia, are you awake? It’s a snow day, honey.”
“FOR REAL?” (She doesn’t believe me)
“I CAN TURN MY ALARM OFF?” (She still doesn’t believe me)
“YOU AREN’T KIDDING?” (Aha, she doesn’t trust me.)
“No, go back to sleep.”
“ARE YOU SURE?” (She doubts my intellectual function.)
“DID YOU HEAR IT ON THE RADIO?” (She wants independent confirmation due to doubtful intellectual function.)
“Well, the T.V., but yes.”
“THIS ISN”T A TRICK?” (Ooh, that hurts… the trust issue is big.)
“No. Go back to sleep.”
What a cruel trick that would be. I would never pull it. My kids are excellent students and enjoy school, but they LOVE to skip school legitimately any chance they get. Quite an awesome combination of personality characteristics in my opinion—it is what will make them party girls in college, in a good way.

I remember as a kid lying in bed in the cold, winter-morning darkness, hopin’ and a prayin’, hopin’ and a prayin’… listening to my dad get up and go downstairs to flip on the radio…trying to listen for a change in the usual morning kitchen noises that indicated a potential snow day. When I was older I would listen myself on the AM dial of my old clock radio for the school number on KYW News radio 1060…..”302, 302 302 pleaseohpleaseohplease…” I grew up in the Philadelphia area so there were many, many numbers to read and it was excruciating waiting for the numbers for our county. “In Montgomery County, 101, 102, 103, 106…” Waiting for the three hundred numbers was almost too much to bear. The cruelest turn of events was when the announcer read 301 and 303, skipping 302…I shudder when I think about it…how 301 and 303 could be closed and not 302. In my linear universe, how could 302 be open when 301 and 303 were not! But when I was younger, my dad would come up to my bedroom, knowing I was lying in bed, again, hopin’ and a prayin’ and break the good news…or he would try to fake me out (he never did—he had no Oscar worthy acting skills in this respect because I think he too was delighted about snow days on our behalf). There were other times, I couldn’t stand it and I would creep downstairs and peer hopefully into the kitchen for some good news, without ever asking because that would jinx it of course. Snow day! No school!…a succession of phone calls organizing a sledding party to Cleveland Avenue if the streets had yet to be salted….had to get out before the salt trucks ruined everything. It was the steepest hill in the neighborhood. Really remarkably dangerous in retrospect….a crazy downhill grade that ended at an intersection with no traffic signals and a busy road. It was death defying sledding down Cleveland Avenue especially on those wood and nails Flexible Flyers that probably accelerated to 40-50 mph if you had waxed your blades—somebody usually always had a candle in their pocket so that everyone could wax up and go faster. Thrilling, of course, and since we were the last generation of kids in the suburbs left alone to make decisions, we often made questionable choices that resulted in pee-your-pants fun as well as serious injury. Nobody died while sledding, thank God, although there were quite a few angry motorists at the bottom of Cleveland Avenue who had to swerve or brake and many sled wrecks resulting in concussions and twisted necks that most parents never knew about. Just as well, I think.

My kids live a very different life than I did, but I am happy to say they have been imbued with the anticipation and joy that comprises the magic of a snow day….I consider it a triumph of parenting and I can die happy.

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