It’s snowing, again. It’s Wednesday, and that means a snow day for all the schools. In our house, there are two distinct reactions to the news that school is closed. From our eleven year old there is a whoop of delight followed by a flurry of phone calls to her girlfriends to plan the day. From me there is a sigh of resignation and a decided lack of enthusiasm. So much for my plans to actually get something accomplished for the day.
The day begins with a battle where I insist that she have her breakfast, do her basic chores, and dress in more that jeans and a t-shirt before she bales out the front door with her sled. I win. She hates me, but I win. Dressed in her warmest clothes, coat, and boots, with her chores done in a quick and sloppy manner, she flutters around the door like a moth around a light bulb, while I double check that she is wearing gloves, a hat, and watch so she knows when to check in. She grabs her sled, and disappears across the road to meet all her friends on snow hill. I head for the kitchen knowing that she will come blowing in and I have to be ready.
Sure enough, an hour or so passes before the door slams open and four giggling, soaking wet, breathless girls slide into the kitchen. Snow drips on the floor, boots thump as they are pulled off, and wet clothes leave a trail of cold water all the way to the dryer. Wrapped in warm robes, and wearing dry slippers, they stagger to the kitchen table and tear into the hot chocolate and warm bread and butter like they are starving refugees, all the while talking a mile a minute and laughing about the mishaps out on snow hill. As soon as the buzzer goes on the dryer, they dress and rush out to make the most of the day, leaving my kitchen a war zone of crumbs, dripping water, and ringing with emptiness.
It isn’t long before someone comes to the door with a cut needing a bandage, and a hug reassuring them that they are not going to die from a loss of blood. Another kid turns up looking for mine, and needing to borrow a pair of gloves, and yet another knocks on the door asking for a drink of water. As the designated stay at home Mom on the block, my house is known as the safe house, local public bathroom, and quick stop for a snack or a drink.
As lunch time rolls around, the same four girls, plus two more trail in and go through the same process, except now I play short order cook as I dole out soup and a variety of hot sandwiches and cold drinks so they can refuel for the afternoon. This time, however, they linger in their warm robes and slippers, and then they run, giggling, upstairs for a hair break. After all, at eleven, hair is very important to every girl. They primp and priss their way through half a bottle of hair spray and gel, then dress and throw snowballs at each other all the way across the road. The snow is falling faster and it is getting colder, but even more children are out on the hill, along with a few of the more intrepid parents who have toddlers and younger children. I close the door that was left open as the girls rushed out and go to clean up yet another mess in the kitchen. Then stand at the window in the living room and watch as the children race down the hill in a blur of bright colors and screams of delight.
As the light begins to fade late in the afternoon, I call my child in and send her friends home. Soon it will be too dark to see the fence at the bottom of the hill, and they will all be too frozen to walk. After much pleading and many arguments, I am, once again, on her hate list, but she comes in tossing her coat on the floor and boots under the table. She peels off her wet clothes and heads for a warm shower. When she comes downstairs, she eats her dinner in a haze of fatigue and answers all my questions with a grumpy short tempered tone. When I ask her if she is tired, she responds with a glare and stomps out of the room, deeply insulted. A few minutes later, I peek into the living room to find her curled up in a chair under her favorite blanket sound asleep.
As I turn off the television, and turn down the light, I realize that it won’t be too long before she will be grown up and snow days will no longer be a part of her life. Like most of us, she will have to go to work and not have an opportunity to play. I brush her hair out of her face and pull up the cover, then I tip toe out of the room. As I look back, I no longer feel annoyed, but grateful that for one more day I had a chance to be a part of her day. Too soon, I will be on the peripheral of her life, and days like today will be just a childhood memory for her. It doesn’t make me sad, that is simply how life is supposed to be. Perhaps, next time we have a snow day, I will be less disconcerted and more inclined to rejoice before time moves us irrevocably onward.