I’ve been there.
I’ve been there.
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!!!
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.
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."
The glorious snow day used to be an all day celebration of sleeping in, overeating, watching bad TV, and taking at least 3 coma-like naps.
Now it is dead to me.
I can’t look at it, speak of it, or think about it.
I have been crossed and jilted for the last time. I feel dirty and used. I am not going to lie, I could use a shower.
You see, I used to be in charge of our snow day schedule.
I decided what time we rolled over in bed and turned on the television. I decided that we finally needed to shower around 4 in the afternoon. I even helped make the traditional dinner of freshly baked brownies covered by vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup (aka: a Hot and Cold Treat… if you haven’t tried it, you should).
As a snow day came to an end, I would decide when we needed to put our belly aches to bed. Often times it was around 7:30 pm (you can’t nap that long while mixing in bowls and bowls of junk food without getting stomach cramps…and the only thing that will fix stomach cramps is 12 straight hours of shut-eye).
Now these powers that I cherished for so long have been ripped away from me.
Ruling the snow day was my last bastion of power.
My reign is over.
The one I helped create has tossed me aside like a piece of trash.
My daughter is now in charge.
It started yesterday when she woke up shortly after 9:00 am. Within 2 minutes of crawling out of bed and making her way to the couch, she announced “I’m bored.”
I should have recognized that by making this statement she was insane, but I didn’t.
The look in her eyes should have told me I was dealing with a full blown case of the crazies, but admittedly I am a little slow on the uptake.
I compounded my mistake by engaging her in conversation.
I simply should have walked away, but I didn’t.
Being the genius I am, I asked what she wanted to do.
She certainly has lots of options: TV, Wii, books, coloring, crafting, going outside, playing games on the computer… the list goes on and on.
Of course all of these are boring. She is living the life I could have only dreamed of, but 2 minutes into a snow day she is bored out of her mind. Must have been nothing to watch on the 842 TV stations that I provide for her.
Her solution. Have a friend over.
Did she just say what I think she said?
Having loser friends over is not on the list of pre-approved, very quiet and restful snow day activities. What happened to watching Regis? Or more importantly, watching Kelly? Or spending an hour catching up on the sad an pathetic life of an 80’s hair band?
Did they all waste their money on cheap beer and cold women (or vice versa)?
I thought we had an understanding in this house.
All of a sudden it is like the Wild West. Every man and child fighting for the snow day power.
What was wrong with bad TV, naps, and Hot and Cold Treats? We had a system. I though everyone was happy. And by everyone, of course I mean me.
But, it gets worse.
In her crazy power grab, she decided that 1 friend running/screaming around our house wasn’t annoying enough. She needed 2 friends to help her break out of her abyss of boredom.
This is a child who revels in the fact that she doesn’t have any brothers or sisters. She doesn’t want one because they might touch her stuff or change the channel as she watches the same SpongeBob episode for the 57th time.
And yet, she wants friends over all the time.
This doesn’t seem fair to me.
At least if they were my kids I could punish them. Or smack them upside the head when their mother wasn’t looking.
Needless to say she won this battle. And now that I think about it, every other battle.
So this became my snow day.
Dodging three 2nd graders who spent 6 straights hours of running and screaming. And screaming and running.
Most of the time they weren’t even running after each other or screaming for a reason. Just indescribable movement and noise.
I don’t mind admitting that my ears are sore.
The sad part: I am paid good money at school to keep hundreds of children under control.
Rule #1 – no running and no screaming.
Rule #2 – see Rule #1
Yet at my house these simple rules are mocked. And I am in charge of nothing.
So my lifelong friend the snow day has left me forever. Or at least until my daughter and renegade friends leave for college.
In the meantime, I hope we have school tomorrow. I need the peace and quiet.
If you work in a school it is very likely that you have enemies. I am sorry you had to hear this from me, but it is better than getting this kind of bad news from a total stranger on the street.
Principals and Superintendents seem especially likely to attract people or things that don’t like them.
It may be as simple as a parent who respectfully disagrees with you (I will give you a moment until the laughter subsides… I must admit that it wasn’t easy typing respectfully with a straight face).
Maybe it is a student to whom you have had to give a detention, or maybe you took their hat because they wore it in the building, or possibly you banished them for life from parking on school grounds because they still feel the need to drive 105 miles an hour past the little kids’ playground (you know who you are and I am watching).
It could even be a disgruntled employee that you have to “encourage” to work a little harder (I have none of these problems as I am beloved by everyone with whome I come into contact; it is purely an example).
Other enemies may include; the nice lady at the State Board of Education you got short with, or the cockroaches in the Seniors’ lockers (if I have told them once, I have told them a thousand times… no food in the lockers), or the people who sell schools 12 trillion dollars in insurance yet never seem to want to pay a claim.
The list of possible enemies goes on and on and I haven’t even mentioned; fans, bus drivers, snow removal people, cooks, lawyers, politicians, stray dogs, or strangers at the post office.
Just for the record, the PrincipalsPage.com legal department has advised me to include the following statement. I (or anyone I have ever met) have never, or will ever be involved in any of the situations written about in the first 6 paragraphs of this blog. Also, I am sorry I hung up on you lady at the State Board.
That being said, most people love their Principal or Superintendent (again, please take a moment to regain your composure… sometimes I even crack myself up).
I think it is a big part of our jobs to try and get along with everyone. We are the Switzerland of school employees (I was going to write that we are the statue in the park and the rest of the world is made up of pigeons… but that seemed a little harsh… and again the PrincipalsPage.com legal department is throwing their weight around).
Administrators can and should get along with all kinds of people. We should treat others as we want to be treated (that is kind of catchy, I am thinking about calling it the Golden Rule).
As I was telling my daughter as I walked her to Sunday School… “you shouldn’t hate anyone.”
Unless it is the weatherman. I can’t stand that guy.
Why the harsh feelings you ask?
Because of his total inability to predict snow. He has no idea if we are getting flurries or 27 feet of snow.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I looooooove a SNOW DAY as much as the next person, but as an administrator the weatherman has become Enemy #1.
Last night on the 10 o’clock news he announces that we are getting between 4 and 6 inches of snow overnight. That is only half the story. He also adds that we will have 45 mile an hour winds causing untold drifting and mayhem for the next 24 hours.
Then he said it. I still can believe the words came out of his mouth. He was like Ralphie spewing obscenities on the Christmas Story.
He says, “Kids, make sure you watch the Early News tomorrow as we will have what I expect to be a large number of school closings.”
How does he know? At best he has a 50/50 chance of predicting the sun will come up tomorrow. I don’t think he has a clue what wind chill is (just for the record, it is the temperature of windless air that would have the same effect on exposed human skin as a given combination of wind speed and air temperature… that little bit of trivia comes from taking Weather and Climate class… Spring semester 1986).
Needless to say, I slept a total of 12 minutes last night. I looked out the window about 87 times, so that I could see the snow and the wind and then cancel school.
Guess what. No snow. No wind. And as I type this the sun just came out.
Luckily, I didn’t cancel school in advance. This morning all staff members and students managed to make it to school on time (despite the sunshine in their eyes).
The kids looked as tired as I feel. It was almost like they stayed up until 3:00 a.m. playing video games. They must have anticipated a SNOW DAY.
I wonder where they got that idea.
I hate that guy.
Maybe I should look on the bright side. The students and I now have something in common, an enemy.
The SNOW DAY has come and gone. This most special of all school days comes so infrequently, and the thrill is enormous. Yet, I come crashing down when it is all over (I may need rehab; only time will tell).
SNOW DAYS are indeed extraordinary and should be treated with the greatest respect.
They are on the same level as Christmas morning, the Super Bowl, the birth of my first child, and the return of Paige Davis to Trading Spaces (simply put, WOW!).
Does it make me a terrible father if I say the actual birth of my child was a little disturbing? Oh, it does? Then it was the most amazing moment of my life, and I will always cherish that wonderful experience.
The first SNOW DAY of the year had an unexpected benefit. And I am not talking about me being able to sleep in, do what I want all day, and nap several times during and in between me doing what I wanted all day.
The most surprising part of the day came when The Best School Day of the Year easily became my most read blog (to date, I am sure there are hundreds of lonely, dysfunctional, evidently extremely bored educators who will stumble upon my blog in the months to come).
Because so many people took the time to read the blog, I can only assume a couple of things.
One, educators love SNOW DAYS more than prep periods or pay days, and two, people across the country continue to amaze me with their commitment to wasting time on the internet (i.e. reading blogs; more specifically… mine).
My email was overflowing (not really, just play along… it is called creative license), with readers commenting and asking questions about my SNOW DAY.
The #1 question (okay, only one) was,” What did I do on my SNOW DAY?” If you have to ask, you don’t truly understand the power of the SNOW DAY.
A SNOW DAY specialness lies in not what you do, but more significantly in what you don’t do.
My day was special because I didn’t do any of the following; get up at 5:00 a.m., iron my clothes, wear a tie, take phone calls from salespeople, read 147 emails with “Just Wanted to Give You a Heads Up” in the subject line, ask every student in the hallway if they have a pass, tell junior high boys to keep their hands to themselves, pick up trash, close lockers, or the 98 other things that need to be done 10 minutes ago.
That is the true beauty of the SNOW DAY. It comes out of nowhere and forces you to take a day off and slow down.
No meetings. No schedule. No anything. Just the entire day to do whatever you want.
It is exactly like being a kid on one of those never ending summer days. When you are so busy playing that you didn’t even want to take time to stop and eat.
That is exactly what a SNOW DAY is like, except now I am old and, of course, it is not summer, and I didn’t forget to eat.
In fact, I ate a lot. This may explain the marathon of naps.
But now the SNOW DAY has come and gone. I am not going to lie, a big part of me feels overwhelmed by sadness. I will soon be facing another school day.
Back to the day-to-day grind. It makes me think that maybe I should find another career.
I just need to find a job where I have the same schedule every day, get summers off, not have to come in on holidays, receive a raise every year, can be home by 4:30 several times a week, not have to work in the heat or cold, and get to sleep in a couple of times a year because there is too much SNOW on the roads.
On second thought, I do love my job. Thanks SNOW DAY. Hopefully, we will meet again.
There are several days during the school year that can be considered exciting and important, but one definitely tops them all.
The first day of school, homecoming, Thanksgiving break, open house, parent-teacher conferences, Christmas break, field trips, guest speakers, end of the year picnics, and graduation should all get consideration as the best day of the school year.
Students would probably add birthday parties and that most sacred of days; the one where they walk into class and who is standing there… none other than a substitute teacher.
They usually like their regular teacher, but it is a special feeling when they walk into the classroom and see a sub (it can only be compared to watching the birth of your first child).
The difference between a regular classroom teacher and a substitute is quite similar to the difference between like and love.
But these examples of great days pale in comparison to what can easily be considered the grandest day of the school year.
The SNOW DAY. A day so special that it must be typed in all caps (twice…SNOW DAY… there are more to come).
If you live in the part of the country (or with our new friends in Canada) that gets to experience the SNOW DAY, you should consider yourself an extremely lucky student, teacher, staff member, or administrator.
But if you live in part of the country that is well prepared for 14 inches of snow each winter day, or even worse, in a part that doesn’t get any snow- I pity you.
Unfortunately, if you are a parent you may not be the biggest fan of the SNOW DAY. In fact, you may want to put this blog in the “I hate the cold, the snow, and I can’t believe my children aren’t going to school today” file.
In my humble estimation, the SNOW DAY is a beautiful thing and should be treated with admiration and the respect we usually reserve for Kings, Mother Teresa, Oprah (for the ladies), Elvis, Kramer from Seinfeld, Ferris Bueller, and Bob Barker.
As an angry middle-aged administrator, I can never admit my true love for the SNOW DAY when I am out in public. I can’t show any emotion that may allow the students and staff to think that I am a regular human being with feelings, hopes, or dreams.
Because of this, I take the party line when students ask about the SNOW DAY.
My patented answers if I am asked about the SNOW DAY or getting out of school early because of inclement weather includes the following:
“No, we are not getting out early. Nine inches of snow is not that big of a deal.”
“We don’t want to get out early or have a SNOW DAY because we need to prepare for state testing.”
“I would rather go to school today than use a SNOW DAY. I don’t want to add another day to the end of the year when it will be 87 degrees and sunny.”
“If we get snowed in here at school for the next 48 hours, that is just an opportunity for more learning to take place.”
In reality, there is nothing better than getting that phone call at 6:00 a.m. that tells you, “Don’t come into work today, there is too much snow on the roads and it isn’t safe. Stay in your house and watch Regis and Kelly (mainly Kelly… that is for the gentleman).”
This special day doesn’t happen to doctors, lawyers, or members of the military.
The SNOW DAY is purely an educational thing. How sweet it is.
Actually, the only thing better than getting the call is making the call.
If someone had told me as a 12 year old junior high boy that I would one day grow up and be in charge of cancelling school because of bad weather, I wouldn’t have believed it.
The power. The prestige. The power. Did I mention the power.
It makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck just thinking about it. The ability to cancel school and let an entire school district of students and staff sleep in… what an honor it is (I can assure that while power hungry, I am respectful of this ability and try not to abuse it).
Who wants to be an engineer, or the President (although I was, briefly, with an elementary class), or professional athlete, or even the Pope (although I wouldn’t mind being Regis… other than the fact that he is 102 years old… actually Kelly’s husband might be better)?
Sure these professions and people make more money, but they aren’t the caretaker of the Emergency Phone Tree.
A single call sets the Phone Tree into action. And once it is started there is no going back.
School is cancelled.
As a professional educator, I should be disappointed in the fact that a day of learning is lost… but I am not.
What an honor and privilege it is to be a school administrator when the weatherman says, “Looks like we could get quite a storm tonight, please tune in to the Early News to see if there are any school cancellations.”
Who says the dreams of a 12 year-old boy don’t come true?
I am going back to bed. School is called off. Thanks SNOW DAY.
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.