Today, I am thankful my car has all-wheel drive. The snow has not stopped, which makes driving in a small town downright murder. My tai chi class was also canceled after getting stuck in traffic for two hours, but that's for another day.
Driving in this muck reminded me why I used to dread winter as a teacher. If I had perfect administration, perfect class sizes, perfect everything else, I think I still would've eventually burnt out because parents will drop off their kids during the most dire weather situations.
The joys of working for a private school: the owner of the school was in charge of when the school closed or not. And the owner prided herself on staying open no matter what. Even when Massachusetts issued a no-drive curfew for all its highways (and we were just on the MA border), we were still open. And the few times we closed early, we had parents begrudgingly picking up their children at the last possible second, because how dare we close down in the middle of a hurricane?
I fully recognize that some things are out of the control of the parents. Some people just have to work, and some people have jobs that really don't care if there's two feet of snow outside. And some parents picked up their kid past emergency closing time, making comments about how they didn't want to bring their kid home because they're such a handful on snowy days.
Hey, remember when we were kids? Snowy days meant dressing in our fluffiest apparel and enjoying the damn snow. If we were too young to leave the property, we went nuts in the front or backyard. We went nuts on the sidewalk. We learned how to make snowmen and created snow angels. We tired ourselves out in a way that you can only do playing around outside.
Here's a crazy idea: the next time the weatherman calls for a blizzard -- and you have the abilities to take some personal time -- take the day off. Wrap up your kids in the fluffy apparel. Take them outside and teach them how to have a proper snowball fight. Run and dive into snowbanks. Get exhausted. Go inside and warm up with some hot chocolate. Take a nap or wrap up in some blankets and watch a well-earned movie.
Sounds like a great time, right? A lot nicer than fighting traffic into a job you really don't care for anymore anyway, slogging through the tedium, getting the call that the child care center is closing early, rush back, take your kids -- who are mentally exhausted from child care the same way adults get mentally exhausted from work, but that's for another time -- and drag them home, hoping to God they'll be somewhat obedient until it's bedtime.
One thing I used to tell other teachers when talking about parents who seem to never be there is, "It's your children's childhood to miss." It goes by so fast, even for those who can be with them full-time. If a raging storm and some extra personal time available isn't reason enough to enjoy a day with your kids, then nothing will be.