Surviving Snow Days

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  • So, somewhere in a theater near you, you can see the movie “127 Hours,” the true story of a mountain climber who must take unthinkable, desperate measures to survive when his arm gets trapped under a boulder.

    Can you tell I just spent more than four snow days with my two boys? If you’re like me, you need to see this movie just to make you feel better about wherever you’ve been and whoever you were stuck with when bad weather struck.

    I’m halfway kidding, of course. In reality, in this world – where almost every woman I know is trying to juggle at least six balls in the air, running on fumes and too busy to even think about slowing down – having to stay home a few days was a good thing. And for some of us, nothing but an act of God could have gotten us to even consider rearranging, postponing or canceling the stuff we were certain we HAD to do because it was written on our calendars.

    My “Mamas Gone Wild” co-worker and I stared at out of the Red Velvet Cake Studio windows as the wind blew the mixture of snow and ice by, and when Tom asked if we were worried about the roads, before we could answer, Sybil aptly replied, “No, they’re worried because when they get home, their kids will be there!”

    She was absolutely right. And as it sunk in that Mama was powerless and Mother Nature was running things now, the news became official – and Mamas like us had deal with three of the most harrowing words in the English language: Schools. Are. Closed.

    For nine-to-five employees, the idea of your kids being at school from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday might give you the security of knowing they are in a safe learning environment for six-½ hours a day. But when your work day begins at 4:30 a.m. like mine does and “ends” at noon, those three precious hours of alone time are, well, precious, appreciated, coveted … I think you get my point.

    So from Tuesday to Friday, me time became we time. Like so many families in Texas and across America, we had no choice but to spend unexpected, unscheduled, uninterrupted time with our families. And just maybe it was what we all needed.

    After I got over the shock of it all and put myself in my boys’ place, I thought back to how great snow days were when I was a kid. Spring and summer breaks were cool, but snow days were like being surprised with a brand new puppy. You couldn’t imagine anything better.

    Snow days meant late mornings, snowball fights, hot chocolate and homemade cookies. Homework dare not be mentioned, and the time restraint was lifted from television watching. I could curl up in my mother’s bed under my favorite quilt with a good book and just enjoy the gift that Mother Nature had handed us.

    But when you grow up in St. Louis, two consecutive snow days are unusual; four is unheard of. Welcome to Dallas.

    I asked around to find out how others survived the lock down with their families and got a variety of responses:

    “Let’s just say thank God the roads cleared.”

    “Too much re-circulated air.”

    “My only refuge was my bathroom.”

    “Who knew my 11-year-old son could get tired of video games?

    “What family? I ate them!”

    Some parents had forgotten how creative their kids really could be. My friend’s 13-year-old made a beautiful plaque using lyrics from the artist Pink. She even was thoughtful enough to substitute a curse word with an appropriate synonym.

    And finally, one of my co-workers’ five-year-old daughter topped everyone by cutting her hair. Hell, I did that on a Monday morning in celebration of absolutely nothing. Who knew hair was hard to flush down the toilet?

    So, is there a such thing as too much togetherness? Of course there is. Even for kids, snow days get old. Much like being surprised with that puppy, the newness wears off pretty quickly. Four days is more like two weeks for kids who quickly begin to long for the routine, structure – and scheduled meals and snacks – a school day brings.

    My kids would sit up and beg right alongside the dog if I even looked like I was going to walk past the door. I didn’t know if they were going to go outside and pee or make a run for it.

    For me, any lapse in judgment that ever made homeschooling a consideration will probably never rear its ugly head again.

    As for Mother Nature, the ultimate Wild Mama, she threw us a week-long curve ball that we’ll never forget. But most of all, she made a lot of independent women like me who thought our to-do lists rule, cry Uncle and say thank you in the same breath.

    And – oh, yeah – school rocks!

    How did you and your family spend your snow days? Did they bring you closer together or did you go crazy?

    Nikki Woods is senior producer of “The Tom Joyner Morning Show.” The author of “Easier Said Than Done,” the Dallas-based Woods is currently working on her second and third novels. You can friend her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter: @nikkiwoods.

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