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Snow Problem!

January 16, 2014 | by Mordechai Schmutter

My kids get a snow day; I get a headache.

My kids had another snow day today. And by “another”, I mean that they just had one yesterday. Now I’m not trying to be mean or anything, but when you’re an adult, the world doesn’t stop moving just because it’s snowing. Even if everything around you seems like it’s closed, at the end of the month everyone’s going to forget that it snowed, and you’re still going to get the same size bills for everything, including your property taxes. The government isn’t going to say, “Well, for two days there you couldn’t actually see your property, so we’ll deduct that.”

When you’re an adult, the world doesn’t just stop moving just because it’s snowing.

My point is that, while for kids, snow is the best thing since sliced bread, as far as adults are concerned, snow is kind of a hassle, and we are not that thrilled that our kids have the day off, because we have to either stay home or make arrangements for someone else who is “staying home anyway” to basically take in all the kids in the neighborhood or at least remind them when they’ve been outside too long.

And in fact, the only adults that don’t have to go to work or count it as a sick day are the teachers, and those are the people who usually watch our kids.

“But Mordechai,” you’re saying, “Aren’t you a teacher?”

Maybe. But only in the late afternoons. The rest of the day I work. (I’m also a writer.) But I work from home, so I don’t get much done when the kids are around, and it’s not made better by the fact that my desk is exactly eight feet from the front door of our house. That means that I get to spend all day screaming, “Close the door! It’s freezing! In or out; let’s go! Stamp your feet!” and then sitting in a mess of drippy, salty boots and coats and scarves and snow pants and trying to think of a topic. (“Snow days? Nah.”)

“Okay, stop stamping your feet! I can’t hear myself think!”

My kids have been going in and out for the past two days. We found out two nights ago that there wouldn’t be school yesterday, and by six o’clock yesterday morning, they were all running around in coats and boots and waiting for us to wake up and come downstairs so they could go outside. Of course, their coats were open, they weren’t wearing scarves or mittens, and some of them, under their coats, were still in pajamas. But they were very excited. They’ve wanted to play outside since it started snowing the day before, and they actually went out for a few minutes then, even though there was no snow on the street and we could still see most of the grass. They didn’t care. My five-year-old went right outside, lay down on the ground, and tried to make a grass angel.

So now they’ve been going in and out all day long. Literally. Between the gloves and boots and hats and scarves and snow pants, it takes them like an hour to get ready to go outside. And it’s been a cycle. An hour to get ready to go out, ten minutes of playing outside until someone wants to come inside because he got his gloves wet, ten minutes of holding the door open for no reason, “In or out! Close the door!” and then drippy, salty clothes in my peripheral vision until they decide to go out again, and of course they need a new pair of gloves, because for some reason it takes gloves about a week to dry.

And then there’s a knock on the door, and it’s a group of teenagers. “Can we shovel for you?”

“No, we already shoveled. Didn’t you notice that when you were walking up to our front door?”

Of course they noticed. They don’t want to do an entire shoveling job either. I think they were hoping that we’d forgotten that we shoveled.

Why aren’t these kids in school?

Oh yeah.

So my point is that snow is not as much fun for adults as it is for kids. But then, if adults are pretty much in charge of picking where any given family lives, why do so many of us choose to live where there’s snow? I’ve posed this question to various people. For example, I asked my wife, “Why don’t we just move down to Florida or something?” I’m one of those people who deep down would not mind moving to Florida, because every time I’ve been there, I’ve had a good time.

“You want to move to Florida?” my wife asked. “With all the hurricanes? Or would you rather move to California for the earthquakes and mudslides?”

So apparently some people live with snow because, all things considered, it’s probably the easiest thing to shovel.

But my wife is from Massachusetts. We don’t even have as much snow as she would like us to have.

So I asked one of my friends what he likes about snow.

“I like that, when I look outside in the morning, everything’s all white and clean.”

Yeah. So basically, he likes that, for five minutes, his lawn looks as good as his neighbor’s.

When are kids supposed to play in the snow? Summer vacation?

I also asked some other people, who said that, even though they personally no longer like snow, they don’t want to move away from the snow, because they want their kids to experience it. That’s why, even though it’s annoying that kids have off on snow days, we put up with it anyway, because when are kids supposed to play in the snow? During summer vacation?

I think that’s why, at some point, we take the baby outside -- because we’re eager to start teaching him. “Yeah, let’s take the baby out in the snow, that’ll be cute.” The poor kid has been wondering all day long why, everywhere he crawled, he encountered cold, wet footprints. “Let’s take him outside!”

We never learn: Babies don’t like snow. They’re all confused. If there’s one thing they thought would never change, it was the whole entire world. And now the world is a different color, and no one is really explaining why.

“Where is everything? Did we move?”

“Snow,” everyone is saying over and over. “Snow!”

“Stop saying that! What does that mean? Are you saying, “No”? I just barely learned that word! What did I do this time?”

So you take him out there, and he’s sitting on a slant in his “special” pants that don’t let him move, and his boots even though he can’t walk, and his mittens and hat and hood and scarf, and all you can see of his is a bundle of confused clothing with a little nose sticking out, and that nose is running all over the scarf.

“Where is all the grass I’ve been eating all summer? Can I eat this?”

And of course he cries, because he can’t see, doesn’t recognize anything, and is surrounded by people who, like him, are all covered up so he has no idea who they are.

But my point is that ultimately, there is still something that every adult likes about snow. I like that, for one day, it keeps all the weirdos off the streets. Everything is peaceful. Definitely more peaceful than sitting inside at my drippy desk with kids who have been home for three days in a row.

In other words, I like snow because being outside in the snow is better than being inside during the snow.

‘Snow joke.

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