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Snow Day

Kathryn Young Thompson

When I was growing up in Western Canada, we only had a “snow day” with no school when the temperature fell below -35 degrees Celsius. At that temperature, the propane on the school buses wouldn’t fire so we got to stay home. Now, living outside Seattle, Washington, they sometimes cancel school if they can smell the white stuff in the air.

This would seem ridiculous if it weren’t for that fact that we have a lot of hills and very little infrastructure to deal with icy, snowy roads. With more than an inch or two of snow, driving here is treacherous.

My children’s school district seems to have a pendulum that swings back and forth from year to year between being overly cautious about weather and pushing the envelope as far as transportation safety goes. If they’re overly cautious, parents are angry because their kids are missing important learning time but mostly because they have to find emergency child care if school is canceled. If the district decides to hold school, hoping the roads won’t be that bad and then they turn out to be exactly that bad, parents and teachers are angry because they put lives or at least comforts at risk. Truly, the district can’t win and I don’t envy the superintendent’s responsibility to decide whether school will be held or not.

Luckily, it only snows here once or twice a year and sometimes not at all so he doesn’t have to make the decision often. However, I know there are other things he decides on a daily basis that make people mad. I’ve found that anger is not a hard emotion to drum up in people, especially where their kids’ educations are concerned.

This week we’ve had some serious snow in the Puget Sound but this morning things looked to be clearing up a bit so the district decided to hold school after a two-hour delay. Of course, just as our kids were getting on the bus, the snow began pouring again and the roads turned into hill-shaped ice skating rinks. I drove my six-year-old to his school less than a mile from home and had my daughter, whose school is several miles away, stayed home and drank hot cocoa.

Sure enough, shortly after school began, we heard reports of empty school buses sliding into ditches and cars slipping all over the place and the school sent out messages telling parents to come and get their kids if possible.

So my dad and I bundled into his SUV and set off to rescue Magoo from his nearly deserted first grade classroom.

As a stay-at-home mom, I don’t mind snow days once or twice a year. I am the child care and these days have a sort of fun, not-so-serious emergency feel and we get to play together and drink hot cocoa and read stories. I don’t exactly conduct rigorous homeschooling during these times. Hopefully my kids learn some math, counting marshmallows into their hot chocolate, and physics, calculating angles on the luge track the big kids create down our street.

Everyone made it home safely today and we’ll just add one more day on at the end of the school year. It was worth it. Well, maybe two days at the end of the school year. Tomorrow doesn’t look so great either. Maybe I’ll teach Laylee and Magoo about chemical reactions as we put together a batch of chocolate chip cookies and snuggle by the fireplace.       

Kathryn Thompson is a mom to two school-aged kids, a toddler and a deceased betta fish. She can also be found at Bite Upon Bite, and occasionally the gym.