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Slices of Life... Snow days - Mother Nature's payback

Mother Nature must have a wicked sense of humor. You'd think that she'd take it easy on her earthly equivalents - the human mothers of the world - but she does nothing of the sort. In fact, I'm beginning to believe she enjoys making us squirm by forcing us to pay homage to her tremendous powers.

What am I talking about? Winter weather. Every so often, Mother Nature throws a wingding of a weather pattern our way and we are forced to do the unthinkable: close the schools.

It happened again today.

When I was a kid, we gleefully called these "snow days."

The crux of snow days is that about half the time they have nothing to do with snow. Instead, freezing temperatures make it dangerous to be outside. Maybe we should call these "wind chill" days. Today the wind chill factor is hovering around a thousand degrees below zero and schools throughout the state are closed.

Kids are ecstatic. Moms are not. Mother Nature is probably enjoying the irony of it all while trying not to giggle.

This is because kids think a snow day means fun and freedom - not to mention a day without math tests. Kids look outside at the white-covered landscape and think winter wonderland.

Moms know better. We see frostbite, hypothermia and cold toes. We understand that 50-below means 50-below and no amount of begging and pleading will change our minds or the thermometer. Going outside when it is 50-below-zero can be summed up in three syllables: dang-er-ous.

When the weather is like this, there is no way that anyone should contemplate skating, sledding or making snowmen. By 9 a.m. this morning, my boys had suggested all three.

I'm not sure what I enjoyed more: having to tell them "no" about a dozen times or attempting to explain the concept of wind chill factor to a first-grader. Snow days are so much fun.

There must be something about being cooped up inside the house that makes a 7-year-old go just a little bit crazy. By mid-morning the boys were dragging their feet across the living room carpet, building up static electricity to see who could give off the biggest shock. After 30 minutes of listening to them zap each other, I was tempted to suggest they go outside and build a snowman.

But it was getting close to lunchtime, and that meant one thing: the teenagers would soon be looking for breakfast.

Usually by about noon on a snow day high school kids roll out of bed, descend upon the kitchen and the feeding frenzy begins. They don't quit eating until the room's been appropriately annihilated, at which point they get their second really great idea of the day. They decide it would be fun to get together at a friend's house. This friend typically lives outside of town on the end of some very remote, long and curvaceous country dirt road that hasn't been plowed since 2004.

It takes the logic of a smart and intelligent mom to understand that if it was safe for novice drivers to journey out on an isolated country road, the school buses would be doing it and it wouldn't be a snow day. This is definitely not a well-received answer. Snow days don't do a lot for my overall popularity quotient.

Which isn't surprising, because words like popular and mom don't often make it into the same sentence together. In fact, the term "popular mom" is an oxymoron. You can be one or the other, but not both: take your pick.

Here's where Mother Nature comes in. We ignore her when it's warm and sunny, but criticize when the clouds come out. She understands that she'll never be popular, but that doesn't stop her from demanding our respect once or twice a winter. I can relate. I just wish I were relating on a day when the kids were in school.

Jill Pertler is a syndicated columnist and award winning freelance writer working with graphic designer Nikki Willgohs to provide writing and design and other marketing services to businesses and individuals. You can check out their Web site at http://marketing-by-design.home.mchsi.com/ or e-mail Jill at pertmn@qwest.net.

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