I’ve been there.
I’ve been there.
Snow is bad. Ice is worse (I just cancelled school… again).
The good news is we’ve known this pre-apocalyptic storm has been coming for about a week (if you are reading this someplace warm… please know the rest of us hate you).
That’s more bad news.
One would think receiving updated updates on the weather every 4 seconds would be a good thing. It’s not.
Society is on overload.
We have so much information at our fingertips it’s consuming our every thought.
Ten years ago, the only weather information came from the local news station.
You watched it at 6 pm, then you had to wait until 10 o’clock to get the next update.
There was time to let things soak in.
Now, the interweb has allowed us to update ourselves.
And we do. Every few seconds (hello, Twitter).
But this also allows us to blow regular everyday happenings completely out of proportion.
As we share information, too often over exaggeration and hyperbole take the place of common sense.
One person says they’ve heard there is 3 inches of snow on the way, and the next says it’s 4-6.
Before you know it everyone has heard 27 inches and there is only one conclusion to make.
We are all going to DIE!
After a bazillion years (approximately), life as we know it will cease to exist.
You would think the more information we receive would allow us to make more informed decisions.
I think the opposite is happening.
FOX News isn’t making us smarter politically.
MSNBC isn’t helping us elect better representatives.
The local news isn’t calming our fears about crimes and accidents.
Websites are available 24 hours a day. Some even tell us the truth.
It’s so much that it’s becoming just noise.
It’s almost like the more we know, the dumber we get.
Lots and lots of information. But so much noise.
I need to know it’s going to snow.
But I also need to know society is going to survive once it stops.
The Snow Day, always capitalized out of respect, is a complicated creature.
Everyone, except moms, loves them.
But they continue to be a mystery to the average citizen.
Why do they happen? Will we have one tomorrow? Why aren’t they always on Monday?
While I can’t answer these questions, I am here to help.
No one truly understands the Snow Day. Especially, the weather(wo)man.
But I do know the secret to getting a Snow Day.
No, it’s not being the Superintendent and having the ability to cancel school (although that is nice).
It’s 4 easy steps.
And lucky for you, I’m going to share my tried and true method for obtaining the always elusive Snow Day.
Keep in mind these steps must be completed in order.
And most importantly, they must be finished before your normal bedtime.
If you decide to stay up late, because you are convinced tomorrow will be a Snow Day… you have committed the ultimate sin in the eyes of the Snow Day Gods.
So, just follow these simple steps and enjoy your day off from school.
Step 1 – Put your pajamas on inside out (bonus points if your pajamas have feet).
Step 2 – Brush you teeth with the opposite hand (harder than it sounds).
Step 3 – Flush a minimum of 6 ice cubes down the toilet (cubes… not crushed ice… another common mistake).
Step 4 – Sleep with a spoon under your pillow (don’t ask me why, just do it).
If you follow these 4 steps, and it snows a lot, you have my personal guarantee you’ll wake up to a Snow Day.
WARNING: Do NOT overuse the Snow Day Ritual. It must only be used for good, not evil.
To break it down I’ve made a graph with words (it’s all I got, so bear with me).
Students: It’s a combination of Christmas, their birthdays, and a trip to the amusement park. In their lifetimes nothing rivals this special day.
Not their first cars. Not their college graduations. Not their weddings. Not their firstborns.
The snow day to a child is life’s greatest gift.
Parents: It’s fun about once a year (especially if they also get off work). It’s not unlike summer vacation for mom and dad.
Fun for awhile, but at some point it is time for the kids to go back to school (this generally occurs about 9:42 am when the kids announce they are bored).
Snow Days #2-5 are simply babysitting nightmares.
Teachers: They will tell you they don’t want a Snow Day… way too much to do.
That’s a lie.
It’s a paid day off.
Even if they have a lot to do, they get over it about halfway through watching Regis and Kelly in their pajamas (teachers’ pajamas… not Regis’s).
Principals: It’s a break from students, parents, and teachers.
Of course, if the principal is also a parent… all bets are off (sometimes watching 400 of other people’s kids is easier than 2 of your own).
Superintendents: Snow Days are a nightmare.
Do you cancel school?
Do you not cancel school?
Who wants to get up at 4:00 am and stare into the darkness and try to guess what the weather will be like in 3 to 8 hours?
What do you say when parents call and complain?
Cancel school and people are upset about not being able to find a sitter.
Don’t cancel and the very same people complain about how dare you risk the children’s lives when it’s _________ (fill in the blank with snowing, windy, cold, foggy, or icy).
Even worse, don’t cancel and all four districts that surround you do (the dreaded Snow Day Donut).
It’s a no win.
Now don’t get me wrong. It’s still fun.
It’s still a Snow Day!!!
I’m so off the Snow Days.
As a kid there was nothing more exciting than a Snow Day. Unless it was a series of Snow Days.
God Bless a good blizzard (oh, how things change as we get older).
When I became a teacher, I continued my affair with the Snow Day (and by affair I mean… never mind, a hot and steamy relationship with a weather event is just weird).
As a principal, I began to see the Snow Day as an interruption in the educational process. But I got over that about halfway through my 3rd nap of the Snow Day Day (say that fast 3 times).
Now I’m a Superintendent (unless you’ve heard something… and trust me, it’s just a matter of time) and the Snow Day is my enemy.
You might think I don’t like Snow Days because I have to get up early to check the roads and cancel school.
You might think I hate Snow Days because it means we have to add days onto the school calendar in May (when it is warm).
You may even believe that my newfound disgust for the Snow Day comes from the fact that I’m stuck in my house with the Evil Spawn and her creepy 3rd grade friends (who force me to buy them lunch and watch my TV).
It’s Buddy the Dog.
This may come as a shock because on the outside, Buddy and I seem to have the perfect relationship.
He gets my unconditional love and worship and I get my ego stroked when he jumps around in circles and wags his tail whenever we haven’t seen each other for more than 2 minutes.
But like all relationships, this one requires a great deal of work.
It’s all about give and take.
I give him food and then take him for a walk. Everyone’s happy.
Until the Snow Day.
Don’t misunderstand me, Buddy the Dog loves a good Snow Day(s).
They are his free ticket to sleeping inside the house on a weekday. A cold, snowy weekday. Plus the creepy 3rd graders rub his belly.
He couldn’t be happier.
Me, not so much.
Turns out walking Buddy on a Snow Day isn’t as much fun as it sounds.
Because it’s not safe. It’s come to my attention that it’s slick outside during a Snow Day.
Plus, he’s rested, I’m not.
He has 4 feet and a low center of gravity. I have 2, and I’m old with the reflexes of someone my age.
He likes to chase things (rabbits, leaves, trash) through the untouched 6 inches of snow in yards/ditches/fields.
I like to walk in the center of a freshly cleared road.
We could work through these differences except we are attached by a long thin rope (that’s a leash for you dog haters).
While Buddy is a good boy, he doesn’t seem to understand the concept of giving me a heads up before taking off in a dead sprint (when you watch him sleep, 21 hours a day, you would have no idea he’s got Olympic caliber speed).
Let’s not kid ourselves, we may have communication issues.
On 7 occasions (yes, 7) he caused me to slip, slide, wobble, topple, and about fall on my big white-collar job behind during our Snow Day walks.
While walking, I was a stressed out mess.
Every step could have been my last.
The first 6 times he tried to kill me, I caught myself.
The last one, I wasn’t so lucky.
As I lay in the middle of the street trying to regain my composure and catch my breath, Buddy seemed upset.
The only thing I’m wondering. Was he upset because I slipped and fell, or because I survived?
If Buddy was a trained killer… wouldn’t he have a middle name?
I’ve had it (again).
What’s weather drama?
It’s the over exaggeration of winter storms.
Actually, they aren’t even winter storms.
They are days when it is going to snow. You know that happens occasionally during the winter months (unless you are smart enough to live in a warm climate and in that case… the rest of us despise you).
It’s important to understand the subtle difference between a light snow and a blizzard.
When “they” (and I will get to them later) call for 2 inches of snow it isn’t code for “panic”.
But in today’s world it’s what we do.
We are overly dramatic, overly protective, and overly concerned.
It’s almost like we need something bad to happen to us.
When “they” (loser weather people on TV) are given the opportunity, they make every snow event sound like a crisis of historic proportions (unless they
live in Washington D.C… then they were right on the money).
What’s sad is we listen to them.
It’s like we don’t understand what the weather person’s job entails. It isn’t to correctly predict the weather (lucky for them or they would all be unemployed). It’s to drive ratings, get little kids fired up for a Snow Day, and scare old people so they don’t leave their homes.
But they do.
They do leave their homes.
And you know where they go the 24 hours preceding the latest weather catastrophe?
The grocery store.
Not because they need groceries, but because they are trained like Pavlov’s Dog.
Snow = Grocery Store.
Because a 2 inch snow and the lack of milk or bread equals certain death.
If I know one person who died because they ran out of bread, I know a thousand.
We all do it.
We make our way to the store and buy items that we don’t even need because it is going to snow.
Why don’t we eat the food that’s already in our refrigerator? Or in our freezer? Or in the cabinets?
It’s like we need new food for the blizzard that’s not even a blizzard.
We act like every time there are snow flurries, we may have to turn into the Donner Party.
In summary, we are sheep.
We are stupid.
We are pathetic.
Now if you will excuse me, I’m going to go enjoy my brand new package of Oreos.
My wife bought them. At the store.
In anticipation of the storm.
After all, I can’t survive without my Oreos.
Then I’m going outside to shovel the sidewalk.
Well, not so much shovel the sidewalk as brush the light dusting of snow off with a broom.
You might be asking (or not) why is “Snow Day” capitalized.
Good question (or not).
Because the Snow Day is a sacred event that must always be treated with the highest respect.
One does not want to anger the Snow Day Gods. If you do there may not be another.
And none of us want that.
This is why it is important to never ever anticipate the Snow Day. Even if our friend Jim Cantore at the Weather Channel is calling for 97 feet of snow overnight (and high winds which as you know can cause blowing and drifting), always act like you will have school the next day.
Go to bed at the regular time, iron your clothes, and pack your lunch.
To repeat: I can’t stress this strongly enough… never ever take the Snow Day for granted.
The Snow Day knows where you live and doesn’t take disrespect kindly.
The Snow Day ranks right up there with the Big 2. Summer and Christmas Vacations.
You could make the argument that the Snow Day is the grandest of all these school events because it is unexpected, but that is a whole different blog.
So now that the Snow Day has arrived, school has been cancelled, and I’ve been up since the wee hours, I am left with the Snow Day Dilemma.
Really it’s a riddle.
A riddle wrapped in a conundrum.
Surrounded by a giant vat of enigma.
Or something like that.
Here’s my dilemma. Should I stay up the rest of the morning and take a Snow Day Nap this afternoon or should I go back to bed for the Snow Day Sleep In?
They said being a superintendent would be challenging, but I had no idea I would face these types of difficult situations.
It’s almost like I can’t win.
Stay up and I feel groggy.
Go back to bed and I’m a lazy piece of crap.
It’s not easy being me.
Maybe I should ask Buddy the Dog.
He just woke up from his 12 hour overnight snooze fest. He does his best thinking when he’s well rested.
And as you know, I go to Buddy for help with all of my big educational questions.
Whoops, too late.
He’s already asleep in what is sure to be his first of 6 naps today (he was up for less than 7 minutes… I wish I was kidding).
While you can (and should) make the argument that he’s not overly ambitious, you have to admit… he knows how to make a decision.
It’s December. Which means we are in the middle of another jam-packed holiday season.
I’m not saying the holidays are bad, just busy. Way too busy.
When I was a kid, Thanksgiving and Christmas constituted the most exciting time of the year.
It was great.
It was a nice change of pace from the rest of the hectic year.
Today, holidays mean a lack of sleep and not enough room on my Google calendar (I don’t really have a Google calendar but I’m trying to make a point and promote technology use in schools all at the same time).
Each year, around the 20th of November I know my time is no longer my time.
It is merely a block of minutes in which I’m required to be somewhere doing something with some people.
These people come in all shapes and sizes. Friends, co-workers, relatives, and acquaintances.
And other people you may want to rain blows down upon (everyone who emails me an explanation of this line wins… nothing).
Now before you email me about my Bah, Humbug spirit (with the word Scrooge in the subject line), hear me out.
The time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is filled with the following:
Thanksgiving dinners (2)
Christmas Parties (1… I’m really not that popular)
Winter Concerts (2)
Christmas Program at church (2)
Christmas Gift Openings (3)
Girl Scouts (2)
Requests for Fundraising Donations (1 gazillion)
School board meeting
Basketball practice (2)
Basketball games (5 or more)
Wife’s workshops (5)
Vacation to Disneyland or world (thankfully only 1… I just don’t know which one we are visiting)
Piano Lessons (7)
Dog walks (75… Buddy drinks way too much water)
Meetings (more than I can count)
Interviews (1 … again, not that popular)
Blogs (10 at least)
Naps (0… or 1 if I’m lucky)
Holiday lunches at school (2)
Emails (over 1,000… really)
Shopping (actually I don’t shop, so scratch this one)
These are just the things I could remember without looking at my non-Google calendar. I didn’t even mention the getting fat from too much food and too little exercise.
If I get a free second and I sit down to watch TV, all I see are commercials where beautiful people are giving each other gifts that I know they can’t afford in real life.
My point is the holidays aren’t really holidays.
At least they aren’t as peaceful and restful as I think they should be.
I’m not sure what the answer is, but there has to be a better way.
**Note from “the wife”… I DO have a Google calendar and promote technology use in the schools. I am what you call the real deal… and according to that aforementioned calendar, I too am overbooked!
Both of these are colossal pains in my… neck.
Don’t believe me?
Both give you the chance to stay in bed and watch the Price is Right (no offense Mr. Carey, but I miss Bob Barker).
Granted one may cause you to stare into the bottom of the toilet bowl; but other than that, they have a lot in common.
Both may provoke the closing of schools this winter.
Both are covered on the local news in a way that makes you think the world is coming to an end.
I could go on and on, but that’s all I’ve got.
The Crisis of 2009 is the Swine Flu. Of course it’s only “The Crisis” until something more exciting happens. After all you can’t expect CNN, MSNBC, and FOX News to cover happy uplifting stories.
I really believe when something more “entertaining” (sadly, it will likely be horrific or involve rich people stealing our money…) comes along, we will have heard the last of the Swine Flu.
Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think this is the crisis to end all crises.
There’s no way it’s bigger than Y2K.
Okay, bad example.
Humans like to be scared. We love rumors. We thrive on drama.
Most of all, we fear the unknown.
The Swine Flu is all of these wrapped up into one mysterious disease.
As an added bonus, pigs are gross. Who wants to get sick from something that started with dirty farm animals (I’m hesitant to speak for the group… but not me)?
Long story short, the Swine Flu has caught America’s attention. At least for now.
Who cares that the southern hemisphere is just coming out of their winter (and flu) season and they found the Swine Flu to be less of a big of deal than predicted.
And if we say the Swine Flu is going to be huge, it’s going to be HUGE.
At least until something else comes along.
It reminds me of Snow Days (without the shots of course).
Each year, parents and students focus on whether school will be dismissed because of snow. The excitement continues to build as rumors of an impending storm spread like wildfire.
The news media (i.e. those weather people who are almost always wrong) like nothing more than to fan the flames.
For a school administrator the first snow of the year is always the worst.
An inch can cause people to go completely ballistic.
The phone rings off the hook at school just as soon as the first snowflake hits the ground (sometimes days in advance… and I’m not kidding).
Winter Weather Crises come in 5 Stages:
Stage One – the initial news reports (a week in advance) saying we could get between a single flake and 1 inch of light snow.
Stage Two – sheer panic by the general public that if school is not dismissed literally thousands of people will die on the streets in car accidents or by starvation (hence the run on stores for food… which usually means cookies, soda, and renting a movie). Total strangers, without children, repeatedly call the school to say the administrators are idiots (sorry, this has nothing to do with a snowstorm… this is just an average day).
Stage Three – school is cancelled and everyone survives to go sledding or the mall by 10:00 am.
Stage Four – later that same winter (after 8 other storms) an actual blizzard drops 29 inches of snow in 30 minutes (that’s a lot).
Stage Five – parents call the school, begging the administration not to dismiss because they are sick of having their children at home and they need to go to work.
I wonder if the Swine Flu Crisis won’t go much the same way.
Initially everyone is in a panic. This will be especially true when a school district has their first student with Swine Flu.
But what happens when the 7th, or 19th, 52nd, or 1,000th person contracts it?
Will everyone still be as paranoid?
Or will we send our kids to school and go back to work?
Time may prove me wrong. It has before.
I can’t tell you how silly I felt when I locked myself in the basement with beef jerky, bottled water, and 37 People Magazines as I anticipated Y2K.
Excuse me if I don’t trust the government and the news media. But as the president’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, said, "Never let a serious crisis go to waste. What I mean by that is it’s an opportunity to do things you couldn’t do before."
There is a different feeling at school these days. And I think I know what it is.
Winter is winding down. I know this because I can now walk more than 10 feet and no one asks me about having a snow day.
While this is the surest sign winter is over, there are others that indicate spring has arrived.
But don’t get too excited.
Spring foreshadows the end of school, not that school is over.
This is a very important point for antsy students. And teachers. And me.
If you have spent any time around schools you may recognize some of these indicators that spring is upon us.
The senior class is restless. While they aren’t sure what they are going to do with their lives, they are sure they don’t want to be in high school anymore.
Life awaits them. They are ready to grab life by the horns.
They don’t have a clue.
In about 7 months, they will realize high school wasn’t so bad.
Teachers are restless. Summer awaits them. And they are also ready.
The problem is they have forgotten summer lasts about 7 seconds. Then it is over (although the good news is… there is a summer break every year).
Junior high boys are jumpy. Although this type of behavior is not all that unusual, it does drive adults even crazier come springtime.
On top of this there is a stench in the air (and hallways). While not recognizable to younger staff members, I immediately know what it is when I see/smell it.
It’s everywhere in the spring.
And it seldom ends well… for the boys. But like most lessons in life, sometimes you have to learn the hard way. Good luck gentlemen. You are going to need it.
In about 3 weeks.
High School baseball has started. Which means it is going to rain. Almost every day.
It doesn’t rain so much on days when the team has practice, but there is a 97% chance on game days.
The tulips came up in my yard. Then it snowed on them. It’s definitely spring.
My lawn went from brown and dead to green and 8 inches tall… in less than 24 hours. And lucky for me, I have no time to mow during this time of year.
While good for me, it’s bad for the neighbors. But technically this is their fault.
They should have known the risk they were taking when they moved in next door to a school administrator (also, they shouldn’t blame me when toilet paper blows off my trees and into their yard at Halloween).
I will mow my yard consistently after graduation. In May. Unless I am too tired.
I know it is spring when the countdown starts.
There is at least one teacher in every school who has the official end of the year countdown. They can tell you exactly how many days, hours, minutes, and seconds until school is out for the summer.
These teachers are more than willing to share this information with everyone they come into contact. Starting on about January 2.
You know it’s spring when on the nights you have meetings after school, it is 75 degrees and sunny outside.
And the nights you don’t have meetings, it is 37 degrees and windy.
Spring means I have moved my golf clubs from the garage to my truck.
This act doesn’t mean I have time to actually use them, but I am getting prepared for June (after I mow my yard… after graduation… no matter if I’m tired or not).
So I am declaring winter officially over and spring has arrived.
The signs are all here.
While this site operates with the knowledge and awareness of the Tuscola CUSD #301 School Board, Tuscola, Illinois, the content and opinions posted here may or may not represent their views personally or collectively, nor does it attempt to represent the official viewpoint of Tuscola CUSD #301 administrators or employees.