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Mommy Musings: Snow Days As Make-it-up-as-you-go Days

March 15, 2019
Pam Mellskog Mommy Musings

As a teacher my Mom always got the call early — the one my siblings and I banked on as children heading to bed when a blizzard loomed.

A snow day!

A day when a tempest of temperature and precipitation shuts down business as usual at school and work to open something else.

Unscheduled time. Make it up as you go time. Delicious time for kids, especially, because they don’t worry about lost wages or unexpected childcare needs or rescheduling meetings or power outages.

That world awaits around the corner. But not today.

So, kids just live into space as fresh as the snow itself. And this aspect of childhood gave me pause as I watched my boys bundle up and head out to play when Wednesday’s blizzard grounded students in the St. Vrain Valley School District and its neighboring school districts.

Sixty mph gusts howled down the chimney and animated the evergreen branches as if they were hula skirts on wild dancers that day. The same wind spray painted the tree trunks and fences with wet snow as it fell in chunky flakes.

At its worst, the intensity of the scene outside pressed us to hunker down and live together longer in that small space that is here and now.

I wish I could say the day was all hot chocolate and marshmallows.

We enjoyed that by the afternoon.

But in the morning, someone still acted like she didn’t get the memo. Just couldn’t divorce herself from a schedule even when the blizzard bearing down granted unexpected extra time with the kids and Precious D, the husband.

Instead, I attempted to stay on track at home. Worse, I wrote out little checklists on strips of paper — almost like old-fashioned time cards — for myself and my kids to follow in order to play catch-up.

Catch-up? What was I thinking?

Kids don’t play catch-up on snow days. Only adults do.

Still, I asked my boys to catch-up that snow day morning on everything from cleaning their rooms to writing me a story — something Ray, 9, can’t do yet given his special needs. And something Carl, 13, and Andy, 11, resent as if it were a pricey homework surcharge.

To them, writing outside of an assignment falls into the “Completely Irrelevant Exercise” category, no matter how much I grandstand about the payoffs that come from writing — from noticing, observing, reflecting, making connections, wondering, and thinking in more process-driven ways.

By now they know it’s my panacea to text messaging because I suspect that abbreviated communication deconditions kids — at least my kids — for the rigors and rewards of enriched conversation.

Still, instead of giving me two pages of a story they wrote, they often give me the “Peace out, Mom” look without actually lifting two fingers, which is infuriating and a whole other story.

But I digress.

Here is what I know about snow days from way, way back.

I know that the best thing about bad weather is that it is like a bad boss.

Outside pressures put a premium on high quality home life, moment by moment and year after year. And whether you live in a mansion or a garret, the law codifies protections around this place with the majestic word, “castle.” As in the castle doctrine that permits an owner to use force in defending the space from intrusion.

That law considers intrusion from outside even though nonviolent, white bread intrusions from within happen far more often to far more people.

For instance, on ordinary days here at our place the distractions of daily life — the usual tyranny of the urgent versus the cultivation of the important — rob our family in ways I often fail to recognize, much less count.

So, the mid-week bad weather this March pulled our homefront into sharper focus for me as a place to honor family time anew and to convey that sensibility to the ones still under our wing.

“Dad? Is it another snow day?” Andy hollered from the top of the stairs in his boxer shorts on Thursday morning after waking up five minutes before his bus would have pulled away from the stop across the street.

Despite the strings I attached to our first snow day together, the second snow day called by the school district Thursday as an extra precaution felt like a special delivery to our door.

A second chance to ditch the clipboard and make good on celebrating childhood before my kids grow up and leave.

“Yes!” my husband and I both said.

Pam Mellskog can be reached at Mellskog@msn.com or 303-746-0942. For more photos and stories, visit “Mommy Musings” online at http://mellskog.pmpblogs.com/ .