Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Snow days: a parent's perspective

School was cancelled today for cold.  No, there was no ice or snow, just temperatures in the single digits.  It beat the time we had a snow day...without any actual snow or bad weather of any sort.  Now back in my day, we used to walk five miles uphill to school and back in the snow.  Well, not exactly, but we didn't have air conditioning, and when were melting in our desks in June, I don't remember anyone saying it was too hot for us to be there. Someone stopped me in my whining tracks, though, by pointing out that schools had to cancel as some families can't afford warm clothing to dress their children in on such a day.  Even after being sufficiently scolded, I selfishly dreaded what this meant for me as we were a mere two days back into the regular school routine after a LONG Christmas break.  I'm not one of those parents who imagines a cozy day inside snuggling with my kids over hot chocolate and movies.  I'm the realist that knows a full day inside will involve all sorts of petty fights, yelling, boredom, and chaos.  There's always the potential that one of us won't make it out alive.  Therefore, I'm the parent praying for school instead of a snow day.

I did the best I could to come up with a plan.  Usually, I scour Pinterest for a day's worth of craft projects and recipes...and the kids blow through them in 15 minutes and ask what's next.  This time, we fared a little better, so I thought I'd give you a sneak peek into our day:

We woke up to icy designs on the windows, and even though the heat was blasting, our wood floors and the lesser insulated rooms of our old house were frigid.  It was a blessing not to have to stand outside at the bus stop, and we stayed in our pajamas all day.

The dog had to be forced to go outside and spent most of the day chasing patches of sunlight around the inside of the house, trying to find a cozy nap spot.  Brady took pity on him  tonight (even though he sleeps in our mudroom that has baseboard heaters) and invited Max to sleep on the mattress under his loft bed.  Max didn't have to be told twice (for once).

The kids took the initiative to do some coloring (Maryn would spend the entire day doing this if she could), and they drew Lego Harry Potter figures, which led to Lego building. 

All was going well until I had the audacity to take a shower.  Then the screaming began.  A less experienced mom might have been concerned, but I just waited for someone to fling open the bathroom door and start ratting out the guilty party.  Mission accomplished.  It was obviously time for second breakfast.  My kids tend to eat like Hobbits when they're not in school.  In fact, they ate so many meals and snacks that I'm not sure how they make it through a regular school day with only lunch and a snack.  I bought $70 of groceries yesterday (you know, one of those trips where I just ran in to pick up a few things), and I may have to go back tomorrow.  I couldn't go 15 minutes without Maryn saying, "I'm HUNGRY", and it was usually right after I had fed her.  She's catching up on lost meals (literally) after being sick last week.

Maryn helped me to make pretzels for about ten minutes before declaring it "fun" and "too hard" and then leaving me to finish them.  She, of course, took the credit for them after they were done, and they were delicious.

I also managed to make a dinner that Brady ate and said it was the "best thing ever".  It was eggs with spinach.  Go figure. 

We played Twister, and was a big hit.  Maryn enjoyed making up her own instructions like "Wave your right foot in the air.  Now lift your left foot!  Hop on one foot on blue!  Put your left hand on the third green."

After the name calling started again, I was inspired to bring out a lesson on "Put Ups and Put Downs" which I had been saving for such a time as this.  It worked amazingly well.  For ten entire minutes after the lesson was completed, they were engaged in writing "put ups" (positive statements and compliments about one another) to put in a jar on our table.  But lest you think this is too good to be true, you're right, my friend.  Less than an hour later, we were all yelling at one another (fortunately, I have no pictures of that).  It all started with the trivial (to me) accusation by Brady that I "don't even like Beyblades!"  I must have (foolishly) agreed, which unleashed a flood of tears, screaming, and threats.   It took a lot of cooling down, apologizes, cuddles, and many put ups to restore calm. And food.  In our family, irrational and emotional behavior is often tied to hunger (which we will deny to the point of starvation).   After that, it seemed providential that these popped up in my Facebook feed:

Huffington Post's: The Part of Parenting We're Too Scared to Talk About (rage)

The day had already gone about 37 hour long, but we still fit in time to play more Twister, have many epic Beyblade battles, watch TV, and do a little computer time.  Brady played a math game recommended by his teacher while Maryn watched and explained the game to me ("It's about this girl that's kind of like a leprechaun, but not really, but she has this hat. And there's this old grandpa man that tries to catch her, and if he does, he squeezes her and they get married.")  She's quite an imaginative storyteller, so I admired her creative (if odd) explanation.  But as I stopped to watch the game, I think she kind of nailed it.

There were more snacks and more games, and my introvert self was about to implode.  Brady, the extrovert, can never have enough attention, enough noise and talking, and enough people to play with.  As I was getting ready to give Maryn a bath, he was upset that I wouldn't do a sword fight with him instead.  I calmly explained that we had played together all day and it was time to get ready for bed.  He kept barging into the bathroom, so I finally closed and locked the door.  After banging for a while, he stopped for a moment to think and then started singing the song "Do You Wanna Build a Snowman" from the movie "Frozen", in which Anna is outside her sister Elsa's door begging her to come out and play:

Do you wanna build a snowman?
C'mon out let's go and play
I never see you anymore
Come out the door
It's like you've gone away
We used to be best buddies
And now we're not
I wish you would tell me why
Do you wanna build a snowman?
It doesn't have to be a snowman
(Go away, Anna)
Okay, bye

Well played, Brady.

We also watched this gem a few times:

We survived.  And tomorrow is back to school with a two hour delay.  Whew!  I already admired and appreciated my stay-at-home working hubby, but this takes it to a new level!

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