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Suzanne Perez Tobias: Snow days offer precious breaks from routine

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, at 10:30 p.m.

“Snow days rock!” a friend posted on her Facebook page last week.

“I’m actually cooking. And reading. And playing in the snow with our puppy. Let’s have more of these!”

By Tuesday – the sixth day of a snow-induced six-day weekend for Wichita-area students – you’d think the bloom would have faded from that gleaming white rose.

Backs and shoulders ached from shoveling. Potato soup leftovers lingered in the fridge. Wet boots, soggy mittens and tired towels littered the floor. Cars were filthy. Dogs stank.

But the children rejoiced: One day more!

My son, Jack, sang it “Les Miserables”-style, adding a few “Riverdance” moves just to mix it up and emphasize the point.

One more day before the storm,

At the barricades of freedom!

Snow days are precious nuggets of unplanned time, a break from routine made even more lovely by the promise of hot chocolate or a bowl full of fresh vanilla snow cream. They are permission to do the things you might not otherwise do on a busy Tuesday or Thursday in February – read a whole book, bake brownies, quilt, even clean.

My daughter spent part of one snow day organizing the kitchen junk drawer. When I got home from work she said, “Want to see what I did today?” and led me to it, smiling and proud. She slid the drawer open, and I swear I heard angels sing.

Scissors, rubber bands, Post-It notes and three kinds of tape lined up like soldiers, each in their spot. Pens huddled together in a little box in one corner. A cluster of screwdrivers – oh, there’s our Phillips-head! – reclined along one side.

I gave Hannah a hug, a high-five and a thank you. Then we made some hot chocolate.

The occasional snow day can wreck a schedule, particularly if you’re summoned from slumber by a 5:30 a.m. wake-up call saying – surprise, surprise! – school has been canceled. (Thankfully, most districts made those calls in the evening this time.)

But it’s hard to resist the gleeful sound of life interrupted. Everyone knows most school-age children don’t spend enough time outside – neither do young children or adults, in fact – so powdered-sugar scenery that cancels school for days and prompts epic snowball fights can’t be all bad.

The kids went sledding only one day but played outside all the rest – running, leaping, climbing, dancing, tackling, falling backwards in the snow – mostly during the pink-hued hours just before sunset.

Then they came inside and snuggled with the dogs. They played their instruments. They played video games. They watched Harry Potter movies. They did some homework and made some more hot chocolate.

Jack snapped a huge icicle off the side of the house and put it in the freezer. I imagine him taking it out in August, when we’re all griping about the never-ending heat, and sticking it down the back of someone’s shirt: a practical joke six months in the making.

Grumble all you want about walking to school in 2 feet of snow or about how this generation’s gone soft. Eventually the snow will melt away, the buses will run and everyone will get back to work, back to school, back to cold, hard reality.

No doubt, as you read this, we already are.

Reach Suzanne Perez Tobias at 316-268-6567 or stobias@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @SuzanneTobias.

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