It’s a snowy day. It’s a Snow Day! Forecasters have been predicting a big storm for the past several days; by late yesterday afternoon their claims were dire enough that the townwide notification system went into effect regarding a school cancellation.
My kids knew when they sat down to dinner last night that there’d be no school today, which to me somewhat changes the flavor of a snow day, as my predominant memory of these same events when I was their age was sitting with bated breath by the radio at 7 a.m. waiting to hear if our town would be named. And my parents always reminded us we had to do our homework the night before, even with a forecast like this one, just in case. Townwide electronic notification wasn’t an option then. So knowing at 6 p.m. the night before takes away some of the key elements of a snow day, in my opinion.
On the other hand, Tim went off to a sleepover at a friend’s house, which he couldn’t have done had we not been certain about the school cancellation; and Holly and I stayed up past her bedtime watching a movie.
When the kids were really little, being snowed in was nothing I looked forward to. I felt plenty resourceful as far as finding things to do with the kids at any time of year and in any weather, but really little kids don’t have much fun outside when it’s snowing hard. And then for the few years that I was working full-time in an office setting, snow days were something to be dreaded: I’d still be expected to put in a full day in the office, childcare arrangements be damned. Staying home with the kids meant pulling the “mom card” and admitting that parenting responsibilities beyond your control were keeping you from work, something to be avoided at all costs in the corporate sector.
But these days, it’s fun – as much fun as I remember snow days being when I was a kid. Holly is lucky enough to have a close friend next door who’s always willing to slog through the yard to our house and play with Holly on a snow day. Tim has the job of shoveling my parents’ front walk, which he usually does with relatively good cheer. We play games. We watch movies. We hang out. We try our hand at making bagels (which never really works out very well, but once a year or so we roll up our sleeves and give it a try anyway) and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (absolutely foolproof). If I have work on deadline, I know the kids are self-reliant enough that I can fit it in. And although they’re still not fond of going outside when it’s snowing heavily, once the precipitation tapers off, I know I’ll be able to get them out for a trip or two down the hill on their sleds. Maybe I’ll even go snowshoeing this afternoon.
One of the picture books I remember best from my childhood was The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. I had it in conventional hardcover form; Holly had the board book version when she was a preschooler. I’ve always loved that book, about a boy named Peter who plays all day in the snow. My favorite part comes at the end, when Peter wakes up the next day and is delighted to see that still more snow has fallen.
I’m not necessarily hoping for another snow day – or another foot of snow – tomorrow, but I like the genuine childlike elation behind the way the book ends. Snow and more snow – perfect! It’s exactly how I felt at that age. Then that feeling ended with parental and professional responsibilities. But now it’s back. Snowstorm? I’m ready. It’s January, and that’s what winter is for.