It has been almost a year since our youngest child graduated from high school. One year of college down – where did that time go?
Prom pictures and senior photos are starting to pop up on social media, and it’s hard to believe that a year ago at this time, we were busy shopping for dresses. It seems like yesterday we were preparing for the last graduation party we would throw for one of our children.
In my little corner of the world, the area schools have (wisely) declared a snow day. Thousands of students and most of their parents are thrilled – however, just as many people are not.
I often wonder why there is such a fuss over snow days. Most school years, students may get one or two weather-related cancellations. Over the past few years, we’ve had some of the harshest winters on record, and the students have racked-up many snow days. But I am sure if these days were averaged over the course of their years of education, the sum total of days off would be the tiniest percentage point.
School officials don’t make these decisions lightly. They know that education is important, and they understand that a snow day can create child-care issues for many of their district’s parents. I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes, especially since their decisions are scrutinized in the media.
If you want to see how passionate people are on this subject, just read the comment section of any article posted about school closings. The complaints and nasty responses would blow your mind, as they use foul language and remark that “the system” is making wimps out of the next generation. A good number of grumpy responders don’t even have school-age children, so why do they care? As I read some responses, a few thoughts came to mind:
Maybe these people are envious that they can’t stay home.
Perhaps they aren’t accurately remembering “back in the day.”
Possibly there is nothing more serious happening in the world than local schools cancelling.
When folks state over and over again that as children, they had to walk in the cold and snow to get to school, I can appreciate that. I did the same. A few blocks to elementary school felt like trekking across the frozen tundra. By junior high (see, dating myself here), it was a little over a mile of walking on un-shoveled walkways while cars zipped by, soaking us with a misty, salty, road-debris spray. Waiting in the elements for the bus to high school wasn’t much fun, either.
But life was different then. Many households had one car. Most elementary schools were within walking distance by a few blocks. Today, the dynamics of our neighborhoods have changed. School consolidations have made walking to school non-existent in many communities, plus many districts have eliminated bus service.
Logistically, closing schools for bad weather makes sense. Why take unnecessary risks? Plus, with less people commuting, road crews can do their jobs more efficiently and expediently.
So again, why the angst?
My guess – it is our society. We’ve been convinced that we can stop for nothing. Always on the go – no down-time. How many people do you know cash in their vacation time instead of taking the time off? How many families do you know of that pick up their kids up from school and shuttle around town all evening, from practices to music lessons or whatever? How many people go to work sick, spreading their germs, because they boast of never taking a day off? Achoo, sniffle, sniffle – thanks and congratulations?! Is there an unwritten rule they we must always be on the go and/or productive?
As a society, we just can’t “be.” We’re either looking at our phones, watching TV, listening to something via ear buds, and so on. We are distracted constantly.
So maybe it isn’t the snow day that it the problem, but it is the anxiety that is created when we just don’t know how to sit back, relax and wait for the storm to end.
As a child, I lived for snow days. Hot chocolate, making extra money shoveling neighbors’ walkways, sledding, playing in the snow, sleeping in – yeah, that’s the life! And the best part was everything was unplanned. Just go with the flow, embracing a little down-time.
As a parent of school-aged children, I prayed for snow days. I loved having a “free day” with my children; no rushing out the door, no schedule – just time to play, drink cocoa and just “be.” I have cherished memories of impromptu cookie-baking sessions. Making pancakes or fresh-baked muffins mid-week was wonderful – a nice break from the routine, like a mini-vacation.
As an almost empty-nester, I still love a snow day. Granted, 90% of my work is done at home. However, this morning was one of the days I normally need to be in the office. I am very grateful for the snow day that allowed me to stay put. My typical routine was tossed aside, and I am enjoying my “free day,” lending me a few spare moments to sit and write. I have truly embraced a few moments of down-time in an otherwise very hectic schedule. Had it not snowed, life would have been business as usual.So, for all the negativity surrounding them, I am writing in defense of snow days. I am seeking the positive and enjoying a little down-time. Sure, the clean-up is a pain, but I am relishing the opportunity to take things a little slower.
“Aprils have never meant much to me, autumns seem that season of beginning, spring.”
― Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s
I caught a glimpse of her from across the way. She stopped to check her phone, not knowing where we were.
It was orientation day at the campus, and she had been sequestered from us for a few hours. At this point in the day, she had chosen her classes for the year, wandered around her new home-away-from-home with a group of fellow incoming freshman, had enjoyed lunch at one of the campus eateries and was probably ready for a nap.
“Every story has an end, but in life every end is a new beginning.” Dakota Fanning
“I don’t think I am handling this very well,” I admitted to my husband.
It all started last week. I went to the high school to pick our daughter up from an event. Since she and her friends began driving, I haven’t had to retrieve her from school very often. As I turned into the parking lot, tears welled up in my eyes.
This was one of the last times I would be at this school. With the exception of one more concert, that is it. She is our last to graduate. Twenty-five years of children in school and it is over.
“There are patterns which emerge in one’s life, circling and returning anew, an endless variation of a theme.” – Jacqueline Carey
Isn’t it funny how life is a full circle?
I remember it so clearly, though it was almost 32 years ago. We had just gotten married, and my husband and I loaded up my not-so-cool 1980 Mustang (a sorry excuse for a “hot” set of wheels… it was the model year when one could buy a four-cylinder, fuel-efficient, nothing-under-the-hood quasi-sports car). We were heading from Michigan to Arizona, where we’d spend a few months while my husband was in school. I was pretty excited as we set off on our new adventure. Of course there were no cell phones, GPS or any other technological conveniences that we are accustomed to having when traveling today. We tossed the bags in the trunk, grabbed the maps, said our teary goodbyes and we were on our way.
It is hard to believe that our youngest child graduates from high school this month.
For 25 years, we have ushered children out the door, snapping photos of the first day of school, chaperoning field trips and asking, “do you have homework?” Twenty-five years of concerts, conferences and sporting events. Each fall I would get writer’s cramp from filling out sets of emergency contact cards and writing dates on the calendar. Two and a half decades of sticker shock from back-to-school clothes and supplies.
“Slang is a language that rolls up its sleeves, spits on its hands and goes to work.” – Carl Sandburg
As a writer and an avid reader, I find words and language usage fascinating. Just call me a word nerd. Admittedly, as I have entered the digital age, I find myself being a little more lax in language and grammar rules. Some of my participles dangle, and sometimes I end sentences with a preposition and I often find myself starting sentences with “and” or “but.”
Our dining table is a disaster. We bought it twenty years ago, when our family expanded from four to six. It has seen numerous dinners and holidays and homework projects. The finish is ruined. There are dots from markers and gouges from toddler flatware. If you look closely, you can see someone was upset about doing homework, and their vice-like grip on a pencil carved a few letters and numbers into the table.
I feel rather silly admitting this, but this morning when I woke up, I cried on Mother’s Day.
It really hit me how life has changed.
I cried because I am missing my dad, even more with each passing year. I missed the excitement of being a kid on a holiday, all excited to go see relatives that I thought would live forever. Then, I cried because I missed my grandmothers, great-grandmothers and my great-aunts. Continue reading “Why I cried on Mother’s Day”