Do you remember snow days? I mean the kind of snow days you had as a kid? You’d sit in front of the television at night wearing your pajamas superstitiously turned backwards and inside out, listening to some local weather guy in a cheap suit gesture in front of a map watching for your school name to flash across the bottom of the screen. Then finally, your mother would tuck you gleefully into bed.
You’d wake in the morning to a pile of that glorious white stuff piled high on the windowsills and you’d race downstairs more awake before 7 am than you’d been since Christmas morning. You’d bounce around the kitchen like the popcorn in your yellow plastic air popper, crashing into your greasy, buttered siblings and yelling, “Is it a snow day? Snow day?! SNOW DAY?!”
And your mom would be standing at the counter desperately murmuring hopeless prayers to herself as she continued to pack five brown bag lunches with Twinkies and pimento loaf sandwiches. Like if she could just jam enough petroleum and trans fat into that bag, maybe god would smile down on her and let school happen.
Do you remember? And then you’d cross your fingers and sit on your hands for good luck, and listen to the local radio news announcer reading off school numbers in a weirdly robotic voice.
And by the way, my number was 652. I’m forty-five years old, and I struggle to remember my four kids’ birthdays (and I have twins), but I remember… 652. Because sweet baby Josie & the Pussycats, it meant another mother Flintstones SNOW DAY. The opportunity for eight unmitigated hours of trash TV broken only by a trip outside to shove snow onto the driveway my mother just finished shoveling.
But selfish twit that I was, what I do not recall in that halcyon moment of pure elation- 652! 652!-, as we jumped up and down in our footy sleepers with enough energy to power our whole elementary school for a year, is the spirit-ghost that must have lifted out of my mother’s body in that moment, as she crumpled to the counter in disbelief. And that ghost tearing away from my mother? That was youth, hope, and joy. That was my mother’s soul leaving her body.
Snow days?! I’m a mother of four now, and I’m here to tell you that they don’t look quite so hot from the other side of the counter. Those inside-out-footy-sleeper-pajamaed kids are monsters, I tell you. And as soon as they stop jumping around like popcorn, they’re going to maul each other like my house is the Hunger Games and they’re all from different districts. Like, for real.
I mean, the upside is, when I run out of ice packs for all the head injuries that happen each snow day, I can just go outside and get a bag of snow. But still, when someone needs stitches I’m going to have to drive on those roads. Yes, this day will be the longest, most painful day since labor.
Because it’s not 1978 anymore. We don’t get to phone this in. Trans fat is bad and petroleum is worse. (Who knew there was petroleum in Twinkies by the way? How did any of us manage to fill out scantrons sheets with our names spelled right let alone take the SATs after eating all that crap?) And eight hours of Josie and the Pussycats? Those four little monsters of mine will tell their teachers about one hour of Little Einsteins, and then what? Judgement, I tell you.
We’ve already made 119 Valentines, soaked four pairs of snow boots, built a model of the Roman aqueduct out of overpriced Contraptions wood chunks, and practiced the piano. This isn’t my first rodeo. Or snow day.
So I’ll get out the Legos, or play some crappy board game that has not been improved by thirty-five years of personal growth and two years of grad school. Then I’ll walk from room to room taking capless markers off the couch, peeling glow-in-the-dark Thinking Putty off the ceiling with a broom handle, and shoveling 41 Polly Pocket shoes the size of rice into containers. And my kids will march behind me like a marauding army, pulling my Pinterest-worthy bins off of shelves, emptying puzzle pieces and Lincoln Logs over their heads.
By the time dinner rolls around I will have thrown every Nerf gun, battery-powered, noise-making game, and foam sword/light-saber on top of the kitchen cabinets to the place I call purgatory, and I will be congratulating myself for having survived hell.
I will have become my mother.
Don’t judge me. I love my kids. I can sled with a chubby five-year-old on my lap for an hour. Sometimes, after we’ve had our snow day hot cocoa and I’ve given all four of them baths and dressed them in yet another pair of inside-out-footy-sleeper-pajamas, I even like to curl them into little balls of kid-flesh on my lap and consider eating their fat, doughy arms. They are positively delicious. (Especially if it’s after 5pm and I’m feeling a little punchy from a glass of wine.)
I’m just saying, if all us moms wear our pajamas backwards and inside out next time there’s snow in the forecast, what’s the best thing that can happen? No snow day, that’s what.
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