Few events in the career of a teacher match the unbridled joy, the pure magic, the absolute perfection of a snow day.
Sure, we love those “Aha!” moments when we witness the lightbulbs coming on in our students’ eyes, and we swell with pride when our students perform their best in a challenging contest, ace a difficult test, and earn impressive scholarships to attend college. And graduation? The next time you attend a high school graduation, take a good look at the teachers; not a one of them will be dry eyed–usually because they are excited for this next phase in their students’ lives (but sometimes because of the rude awakening they know certain ones of those students are about to receive).
But there’s just something about a snow day.
The excitement actually starts about a week before when the weatherman first makes mention of the possibility of snow in the extended forecast. The anticipation builds throughout the week (and sometimes crashes when that blasted weatherman changes his mind), and the speculation grows.
“Do you think it’s going to snow?” the students repeatedly ask their teachers because surely if those teachers can solve elaborate algebraic equations and conjugate irregular verbs from memory, then they have mastered something as simple as predicting the weather.
And so the teachers respond, as honestly as possible, “I don’t know, but I sure hope so!”
Evening comes, and anxious eyes watch the sky, looking for a deepening gray that might signify clouds overburdened with frozen precipitation. Just when all hope seems lost, the first flake falls. And then another and another and another, and suddenly every teacher in the county is on Facebook: “It’s snowing at my house! Is it snowing at yours?”
Teachers stop grading papers and leave their comfy recliners during every commercial break, checking to see if those first flakes have turned into a dusting and if that dusting is accumulating into a promise of a beautiful tomorrow. Many will even stay up long past their bedtimes in order to see the 10:00 news–are there any cancellations yet? And if their prayers have not yet been answered, they will sleep only sporadically, peeking out the bedroom window throughout the restless night.
And then morning comes, and the back deck, the ground, the car are all covered with glorious white fluff. Surely it will be enough! Waiting . . . waiting . . . waiting . . . and then the phone rings and teachers across the county are suddenly downright giddy and doing the happy dance in their jammies.
Why do we love snow days so? After all, we know we will have to make them up, and if enough of them accumulate they will even threaten a spring break and extend the school year. But that’s all later, and this is now, and (at least in this case) instant gratification trumps eventual consequences. We have been given a gift–an unexpected vacation day–and the important thing to remember is to treat it as such.
I have friends who think these unexpected days off provide the perfect opportunity for tackling some long-neglected housework, and they spend their time cleaning out closets, rearranging shelves, and even washing out the inside of the washing machine (seriously!). After a day or two at home, they are tired and bored and ready to go back to work. That’s because they’re going about it all wrong! They need to “chill out,” to relax, to enjoy this wonderful gift they’ve been given.
I have just spent three days isolated at home because of snow days, and I can assure you that I am neither tired nor bored (heck, I could spend three more!). Some might assume this is due to inherent laziness–and they might be a little bit right–but I choose to believe that my lack of boredom is simply because I am content with my own company. I don’t mind being alone; I can find plenty of activities to occupy my time, and none of them require the use of a dust rag, a broom, or cleaning liquids.
Sure, I did a few minor chores during my time off, but only because I needed to have an answer ready when my husband came home from work and grumpily asked, “So, what did YOU do all day while I was WORKING?” Hey, I changed that burned out bulb in the bathroom, and I had to climb up on a chair to do it! And . . . and . . . I washed the dishes–so there!
I stayed up late and had hopes of sleeping in on my snow days–could I make it to 5:30 a.m. or even 6:00 before my bladder exploded? That was never an issue, though, because I am too much a creature of habit, and I was wide awake long before my alarm would have sounded. But getting up early didn’t bother me, either, because I could take long, luxurious naps in my recliner whenever I felt like it (and I usually felt like it around 9 a.m.).
When I wasn’t napping, I was speed reading through a really good book, watching a lot of daytime TV (love those Andy Griffith reruns!), playing on the computer (I mean researching), exercising my bountiful butt off, and soaking in a scorching hot whirlpool bath. More importantly (and this is the real key to enjoying a snow day), I accomplished all these activities (except the bath) while still warm and cozy in my flannel pajamas! In fact, it wasn’t until the FedEx driver showed up at my house around 3:00 on the second afternoon that I realized it might be a good idea to get dressed a little earlier (surely, though, mine weren’t the first set of pajamas he had seen that day!).
I’m back at work now, feeling rested and refreshed. I’m also feeling the first tingles of anticipation because the weatherman this morning mentioned the possibility of more snow in next week’s forecast . . .
(NOTE: To all my non-teaching friends, please don’t hate me! Every time I get to stay home and you still have to go to work, I do feel a tiny twinge of guilt, and I do pray for your safety on the treacherous, snow-packed roads. I wish you could know the joy of a snow day, too!)