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the childhood snow day

November 2, 2011

I used to want to be a weatherman when I was a kid.  Once thanksgiving time rolled around every year, nobody was glued in on the weather channel more than I was.  If there was a slight chance of snow in the next day, or for the 3-10 day forecasts, I would start checking in on the radar every couple hours.  There is no greater feeling in the world as a ten year old to waking up on a monday and not even being able to look out the window due to a white out from the snow.   The bedroom that I grew up in at my parents house had a phone in the bathroom directly next to my room.  As it is, I have never been a heavy sleeper, but I barely got a wink on those “anticipation snow day nights”.  There was always a message left on the schools voicemails before the crack of dawn regarding the status of school that day. “Today, December 3rd, Bayberry School is…. If I had a cell phone back then, the hot line for Bayberry and Valley View schools (the elementary and middle schools I attended) would have been on speed dial.  Many times the line was busy, because there were many anxious parents and children trying to find out if there was school.

There were three options: open, delayed, or closed.  The fate of my entire day rested on that one word.  Was I going to be able to go out and go sledding, build a fort or igloo, and have a giant snowball fight with my friends?  Would I at least get the luxury of watching cartoons for a couple hours, and a nice homemade pancake and bacon breakfast compliments of mom?   Or would the harsh reality hit that the weatherman was wrong again, the roads were fine, and school would be open on a regular schedule!?  My best hope then would be a hot chocolate for the road…

On those types of days my mom always got a call around 530am with an update on whether or not we had school.  She was the director of the preschool and kindergarten the town over from where we lived.  Therefore, she got the heads up right when the decision was made about whether or not the buses would safely be able to pick up kids and drop them off at school.  I grew up in a very hilly town, and it didn’t take much to have to shut down the buses for a day.  There were days when even the threat of a bad storm would cancel school.

Furious is an understatement for how I used to feel when the weatherman let me down.  6-12 inches of snow expected overnight and I wake up to see that the storm “just missed us”.  You can’t do that to a ten year old boy…its too harsh!

On the other side of the spectrum, there was no better feeling than the blizzard of 1996.  I was ten years old and I remember it like yesterday.  Walking into Mr. Kinch’s fourth grade class on a monday morning in December, I decided to make a bold prediction.  I had been following the weather very closely that year (mainly because Mr Kinch was the most boring teacher in the world, and I hated going to school), and it looked like there was a distinct possibility of a major snow storm hitting within 24 hours.  As all of the students in my class took their seats for a long day of dull torture, I stood up and yelled, “A blizzard is on the way”!  Of course this led to jovial chants from many of my classmates, and a impatient/very stern glance from Mr Kinch. (I think many teachers got a thrill of seeing a ton of young kids being miserable at their desks.  The thought of a snow day, let alone a few in a row because of a blizzard was too much for this on the latter half of sixty, teacher to handle)  He got bright red in the face when he got mad, and started spitting out of both sides of his mouth.  I always cracked up because he wore these ridiculous dress shoes that looked like they were part of a clown costume.  On this particular occasion he screamed “Michael Rolland sit your ass down in that seat now”!  Teachers weren’t allowed to hit children in the mid-ninenties, but back then any type of verbiage was allowed.

Sure enough, a couple hours later the snow started to fall lightly.  There is always that feeling in the air when a huge storm is about to hit.  You always hear people say “they feel it in their bones”.  Let’s just say that we had the rest of that week off after almost four feet of snow accumulated over the next 2-3 days.

I awoke in Denver this morning to a white out, and it reminded me of those snow days growing up.  I haven’t watched the weather in years, and its ironic how as people get older they seem to dread snow more and more.  The inconvenience of getting to work, shoveling the driveway and the stoop…

As the years go on, and there are a lot more snowfalls, I will never forget the childhood snow day.  I don’t even know how much longer I will be living in a climate that gets snow (I much prefer warm weather all year like AZ, or Cali), but I will embrace every snow day that I am a part of.  You all should do, make the best of it, and have some fun when there is a white out.

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