Six Children and No Theories

Covering parenting and child development issues

Snow Days

Written by Lisa Lawmaster Hess, Community Blogger | Jan 26, 2013 10:10 AM

As I began to sketch out this post yesterday, snow was in the forecast, and notices of early dismissals were on plastered on Facebook, Twitter and the airways.

It's interesting to watch the parental response to early dismissals. Inevitably, someone is angry. If the schools close, and there is no precipitation to be found, parents complain. If it begins to snow, slowing buses and creating late arrivals home, parents complain.

Not all parents, mind you, but in this, as in so many other issues, the squeakiest wheels also seem to be the most negative. It strikes me as ironic that it's often the same parents who call for improved safety measures in schools who protest when early dismissal calls are made too early.

It doesn't help at all that when it comes to inclement weather closings, the sweet spot is hard to find. Erring on the side of caution still means make-up days and alternative plans for working parents - and the impact of children arriving home an hour ahead of schedule can range from barely a ripple to full-fledged panic over how to juggle work schedules, school schedules, traffic and back-up caregivers so that somehow, there is an adult there to greet the early-arriving child.

Maybe it's the fact that I was an educator for 27 years, but I still view snow days and early dismissals the same way I did when I was a kid: as a free day - an excuse to ditch responsibilities and do fun things like watch a movie, curl up with a book, bake cookies or even venture out into the white stuff.

I realize that this view is idealistic. Not too long ago, I was a working parent, and so I understand that many parents don't have this luxury. For them, early dismissals are a headache, and perhaps even a threat to the job that puts food on the table.

But my view has also been shaped by those few snow days where the call was made too late - one in particular when my daughter was in elementary school and her bus was over an hour late arriving at its appointed stop. I knew the route - I knew the hills and back roads it had to travel before finally dropping her off safely, and I remember sitting at her bus stop being a wreck - after first racing there from work, hoping she wasn't waiting for me as I awaited approval for my own dismissal - waiting for her to get there and wishing and wishing that the district had closed sooner.

For me, the bottom line is this: do I want my child to be safe? And the answer is unequivocally yes. The tradeoff of being inconvenienced for one day - or an afternoon, more accurately - in order to ensure my child's safe travel is well worth the schedule juggling and inconvenience that results.

Especially if it means I can change into comfy clothes, haul out the fleece blankets and curl up with a movie or a book - or my child - safe and warm at home.

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