Why I didn’t make my kids go to school on snow days

IMG_2821Time: late 1960s, early 1970s
Place: a small family farm in the Ottawa Valley

On storm-blown winter mornings, I woke up under several layers of my grandmother’s quilts. Crystallized frost on the single-pane windows of my bedroom prevented me from seeing if the weather outside held snow-day potential, so I stayed huddled in the warmth watching my breath form misty clouds in the cold air. When I worked up the nerve to leave the sanctuary of my bed, I dressed quickly and ran downstairs to the warmth of the kitchen. CFRA (the number one station at the time) always accompanied our family breakfast. I waited to see if the morning DJ, Ken “The General” Grant, would march me off to school, or out to an unexpected day of freedom and play.

We cherished snow days.

The change in routine injected a little excitement into our otherwise routine lives. And, while snow days meant poor driving conditions, it also meant ideal playing conditions. In our snowmobile suits and woolen mittens, we built snow men, made snow angels, built snow forts, and held long, heated snowball fights. (Gasp! Isn’t that dangerous!) At the end of the day we placed our sodden mittens on the register to dry and fell into bed exhausted and happy.

Today, I live in a suburban house within easy walking distance of all the schools my kids attended.

Really, there should have been no such thing as a snow day for us. But I couldn’t—I just couldn’t—make them go to school on those days. I didn’t want to rob them of snow day joy. I wanted them to go to bed on the night of a predicted snow storm filled with excited but ready-for-disappointment anticipation. I didn’t want them to go to bed resigned to the inevitability of school. I wanted them to learn that the stuff with which we fill our days is not so all-fired important that it can’t be delayed from time to time; it’s funny how meetings and duties that seem so critical on an average days suddenly become flexible on a snow day.

Sometimes we receive these jolting reminders in not-so-enjoyable ways like deaths in the family or natural disasters. A snow day does the same thing but with an injection of fun instead of tragedy.

That’s why I didn’t send my kids to school on snow days. Because every once in a while it’s good to be reminded of the power greater than ourselves. Everyone once in a while it’s good to put the routine activities of our days into perspective.

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