Sunday, March 13, 2011

On @#$%^&! Snow Days…

Usually I feel uniquely trampled by the state of motherhood, but as I sit down to write of my experience with winter’s timeless parental pitfall, I have no doubt I’m in good company. I’m talking, of course, about the cold weather calamity that would chink even the mental armor of the venerable Super Nanny: snow days. Few of us stand a chance.

I didn’t grow up in the Midwest or on the East Coast – so I can’t wax poetic about the much anticipated snow days of my past. No, there’s no snow in California unless I want there to be, so instead I only get the view from this angle. The one that has me desperately pleading for school to be back in session while my little rivals are begging for another day of wanton bedlam at home.

At first I was elated that I didn’t have to get up at 5:45AM to pack lunches, brush the dragon breath off of everyone’s teeth and wrangle them into their clothes just in time to lurch into the drop-off line before the last bell rang. But then I realized, thanks to Murphy and his damn law that my kids can smell “snow day” like a pack of wolves to a carcass and won’t sleep in because, for once, their mother actually can. I’d brazenly ignored all preparation warnings from the affable, local news team so I neither had a plan nor the ability to drive to a friend’s house where there might be safety in numbers and my one sliver of hope for survival. Next, I light bulb the fact that my husband is out of town, the cupboards are bare and I’m pretty sure I’m looking at another two days of being trapped like a wild animal or should I say “with” the wild animal. (Sorry, Cameron, but if the snow shoe fits.)

In a panic, I scoured the Internet for “snow day activity” ideas and even found some that sounded pretty good. But staying true to character, I didn’t have the supplies necessary to pull any of them off. Besides, I was really looking more for “independent play” pursuits to help ease the mental health drain during our winter lockdown, which admittedly took more effort since all those other people obviously thought snow days were good opportunities to spend quality time with their kids.

I finally found an article after my own heart. The first entry on the list was “Reading.” Flop #1: Reading was misinterpreted by Jack to mean nipping at my heels with his joke book as I traveled through the house and he asked me “What do you call…” jokes with the rapid-fire delivery of an Uzi and the commitment of a drooling Labrador with a ball and a dream. When he realized I’d stopped guessing answers, he switched gears to delighting me with his genetic aptitude for puns (thanks Dad) including, “Don’t worry Mom, I snow what to do!” and “Mom, I snow that you hid my DS,” and “That’s snow punny. Get it, Mom, get it?”

Flop #2 directly coincided with independent activity idea #2 which forced me to consider something no self-respecting “fake” mother of the year ever would: crafts (did I just say that out loud?). Sadly, I found myself seduced by the fact that said option promised kids who would be occupied for hours. Five minutes later I found myself scanning the page for idea #3: Audio books—good one, don’t have any. Numbers four through six weren’t applicable and I was back to trying to explain to Jack that playing a game with his brother didn’t mean mimicking everything he said until he had a nervous breakdown while also explaining to Cameron that Legos were a building activity, not a demolition derby of destruction. I even tried getting them to play outside. It took me a full thirty minutes to get them properly suited up while it took them, just shy of seven minutes to realize that snow is cold. It didn’t stop there, of course, but lucky for you, I’ve only got 850 words.

By the seventh snow day, I’d let the kids watch more TV than a prison inmate and spend more time with the Wii than the guys who designed it. I didn’t even care that Cameron wouldn’t break from his “kitty” character long enough to have a drink and just started serving his milk in a bowl by the table. You know it’s bad when the kids start asking you if they should get dressed and you say, “Eh, what’s the point?” Shortly thereafter I found myself shoveling the driveway in my pink sheep pajamas and my husband’s oversized snow boots.

I guess it wasn’t all bad news. Cameron was able to put in substantial hours to perfect his on demand burp feature. And Jack continued to step up his comedic skills whenever he could, including the time I asked if there was anything else I could get him during dinner and he said, “yes, a plasma TV, a petting zoo and my own tropical island.” Everyone’s a comedian.

While the spring-like weather has prompted me to be cautiously optimistic, I’ve packed my bags for the funny farm. Because if there’s even one more snow day this season, I’m going to have a permanent meltdown. And that’s snow lie.