I could hear the "tink-tink" of ice hitting my bedroom window before I had even opened my eyes. The baby leaned over me and gave me an exuberant, "HI MOMMA!!" I blinked and rolled over. I could see the flashing of the town sand/plow truck as it slowly drove by.
I scooped up the baby and my phone and with one hand checked the local radio station's school closure listings. It was the 24th of February and we had yet to have a snow day called. I scrolled through the listings and saw our daughter's school listed. I breathed a sigh of relief.
Driving in bad weather is one of my least favorite things to do. Our school doesn't have a bus service so we drive our daughter the 20 minutes to and from. When the weather is bad, the drive can take 40 minutes or longer. I glanced out the window at my back yard and saw what can only be described as an ice rink in desperate need of a zamboni. Thank goodness we were not driving anywhere today.
I broke the news to the rest of my family. Our daughter was happy to have a day at home but disappointed that her first snow day was an ice day. My husband checked weather forecasts and hopped on his computer to start the process of calling a snow/ice day for his work as well.
Stephens-ville was on lockdown for the duration of the day.
I didn't think much about the choice to cancel school. I figured it was pretty icy and having all those busses and children on the roads probably wasn't a great idea. Plus, we have 4 or 5 snow days built into our school calendar, might as well use a few before spring. Instead, I focused on enjoying our day.
The girls watched a movie while my husband and I worked from home and cleaned a little. We had lunch together, something we rarely get to do, and allowed the girls to linger and play in their bath. My husband got to snuggle the baby during her naps and I got to rest mid-day and catch up on a little sleep. There were a few moments of, "I'm bored!" but overall, we were enjoying our "free" day.
It wasn't until I checked Facebook that I realized how many people were mad about the snow day. I saw post after post complaining about the "rain day" their kids had. I glanced outside, once again, and saw a front lawn of ice and a road that I would rather not navigate.
I scrolled and scrolled as people lamented that the call to cancel was unnecessary. Photos of clear roads and kids in rain gear with sarcasm laced captions dominated my newsfeed. Meanwhile, ice was still falling from the sky at our house and I was very happy to have a snow day. Clearly, the storm had delivered a mixed bag of meteorological goodies depending on one's location.
This was the perfect example of life in Southern VT/NH. The weather is not consistent throughout the entire region. It could be sunny and warm in one town and snowing in another. The storm that caused our snow day was tricky. It was glare ice in some areas and rain in others. The further from town you got, the icier it became. Coincedently, the further from town you get, the likelier it is that those children have to ride a bus to school. A bus without studded snow tires or chains. A bus that handles MUCH more differently than a car. When the superintendent of the supervisory union makes the call to cancel school s/he has to take these things into consideration.
What may seem like a silly call to someone who lives three blocks from their school in town, can seem like a very well thought out decision to someone who has to send their child 20 miles on a bus to school. I can not imagine having to be responsible for that decision. Recently, school was not called off and a bus went off the road due to the poor driving conditions. It doesn't seem worth it to risk the safety of our children.
I understand that not everyone can stay home with their kids on snow days and that it can pose a giant childcare nightmare. I still stand by safety trumping everything, though. Plus, Punxsutawney Phil said we were having an early spring. How many more snow days can we possibly have left?
Now, excuse me while I knock on wood, throw salt over my shoulder, and stock my cupboards with ALL THE SNACKS, just in case that groundhog was wrong.
Michelle Stephens is a writer, wife and mother of two small girls. She has a penchant for coffee and rarely turns down cookies. She is the authority on nothing and may just be the most outgoing shy person you will ever meet. Her family is convinced she is a super hero but most days she feels more like the bumbling sidekick. Her writing can be seen on UrbanMommies, Mamalode, BLUNTmoms, in the HerStories anthology, Mother Through The Darkness, and on her blog at www.JuiceboxConfession.com All love letters can be sent to JuiceboxConfession@gmail.com