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.
Even if it is only for one day.
© Lynne Cobb – 2016
Do you embrace or dread snow days? Share your opinion in the comment section!