I knew we’d get the call as soon as the nicknames started: “Snowmageddon”, “Snowpocalypse”, “Snowpercalifragilisticexpialidocious”. Sure enough; about 3:00 all the phones in the house began to ring. I answered the one closest to me, my work cell phone.
“This is an important message from School District 100,” intoned the recording. “Due to poor weather conditions, school and all school activities have been canceled.” This was the second time this winter school had been closed down due to bad weather. The first time was a few weeks ago when the temperature dropped below zero.
Now I hate to use the phrase “back in my day”. It makes me sound old and crotchety. But – dagnab it! – back in my day, we went to school in the snow. We went to school when it was below zero. We bundled up, we stood out in the whipping wind and waited in line like a human snow fence for an unheated school bus to come pick us up and carry us off to school. It was cold. It was miserable.
That was the point.
I believe we are shortchanging our children when it comes to those unpleasant experiences we all must have to become better parents and grandparents. How will the children of today be able to face their kids tomorrow and make them do something they don’t want to do? It’s been enough of a challenge for me. When I was young, they had changed the laws of topography. No longer could we go uphill both ways. We didn’t have to beat off Mongol hordes or wild Indians (or whatever it was my grandpa used to say) to get to school. But in January in the seventies in Chicagoland, no one was talking about global warming; I can tell you that. Can you imagine what our children will have to go through when facing their own children in a decade or two?
“When I was your age… well, we got to stay home where it was warm and – sometimes – we got to drink hot chocolate.”
We must be clear. We must be firm. We must wake our children in the dim hours before dawn, bundle them up in boots and coats, hats and scarves and send them out in the morning – every morning – to wait for the bus to school. And if it happens to be Saturday and the bus isn’t coming for a couple of days… well, won’t that just be an even better story of human suffering to pass on to the next generation? It’s for their own good.
Trust me; they’ll thank us later.