It's snowing. Again. I live in an area where the arrival of half a snowflake results in the absolute cessation of all business and public transport and hospital respirators, so school is closed. For the 90th fucking time. At this rate, my children will learn to read sometime around 2085.
The snow day is a heavily romanticized bit of Americana. It's the day where we will all supposedly go tobogganing for eight straight hours and then sip hot cocoa by the fire and then, as per custom, gaily watch the classic 2000 Chevy Chase comedy of the same name. But that's not the reality. The reality is that a snow day is a warp in the cosmos: a black chasm of endless boredom and working-parent angst (WE ARE LOSING MONEY, PEOPLE). Here's how the usual snow day plays out:
6:30 a.m.: Asleep and dreaming about something warm and good when awoken by children outside the bedroom door. These children think they're not making too much noise when, in fact, they're loud as shit. They look out the window and kidgasm with excitement when they see snow. They rush in to announce the snow. If your school hasn't already been canceled, this is the part where you hold onto a bare last sliver of hope that your school district will nut up and open school anyway.
6:45 a.m.: Get up and check to find that school has been preemptively canceled for the next 50 days. Because lawsuits. Turn on the TV and park the kids in front of it, then go back to bed.
7:45 a.m.: The kids get bored, start kicking each other.
7:50 a.m.: Breakfast in front of the TV buys 10 more minutes before the kids start wailing on each other again. Fight with them.
8 a.m.: OK, OK, let's turn that TV off. It's a snow day, gang! Are you excited?! I'm excited! We're gonna have a blast! Who's ready to go outside and go sledding/make a snowman/have a snowball fight that ends with an iceball to someone's mouth?!
No takers. Time for video games!
9 a.m.: Kids are bored and hitting each other again. Any more screen time and you fear they will go blind. You are a horrible parent—the worst in America—and the day hasn't even started yet. Come on, you little fuckers. No more dilly-dallying. Let's get out into the shit.
9:05- 9:45 a.m.: Dressing children for snow. Where are the snowpants? Oh, they're in the basement tucked under the water heater behind 80 pairs of old shoes. Easy enough to find. Does everyone have a scarf? Why does the boy only have one glove? The oldest kid wants to go out in shorts and a wife beater because kids have NO accurate internal gauge for their own body temperature. Break your back in six places trying to push a boot onto your kid's foot.
9:50 a.m.: The youngest kid can't put on his own gloves. Try in vain to help. Are all the fingers in the right slots? Why won't the glove advance down onto his wrist? Why is this so goddamn hard? You know what? Let's do mittens instead. If you can't get your gloves on yourself, it's lobster claws for you.
10:00 a.m.: OK, everyone is finally out the fucking door.
10:03 a.m.: The youngest child gets snow down his crack INSTANTLY, begins crying, needs to come inside and replace every piece of snow gear with a new piece of snow gear. Little crusty pieces of ice have already formed on the ends of his jacket sleeves and will never come off.
10:20 a.m.: Back out we go. The kids play around while you shovel the walk. Look at how easy it is to shovel the walk. You just bulldoze that fucker from end to end SO MUCH SNOW YOU ARE GOD OF SNOW. That was a job well done. I dare say that, after three minutes of very light labor, you've earned the right to do absolutely nothing the rest of the day.
10:23 a.m.: Oh right, you gotta clean off the car AND shovel the drive way. Shit. You gotta shovel your way to the car off and then, once you've wiped off the top of the car, the path you just shoveled is now ruined. And then you gotta shovel it again. Nobody is better than me at shoveling first in places where other snow will eventually need to land. I will die trying to figure out the correct shoveling order.
Turn on the car to get it warm, so you can clean off the windshield more easily. Look at the snow slide right off once the interior of the car has hit a sultry 87 degrees. Not so tough now, are you, snow?!
10:24 a.m: The neighbor has a snowblower, and his driveway, sidewalk, and front door are already blown clean and are utterly pristine. He already cleared a path for his car and went to town to fetch coffee and donuts and a dozen Redbox movies. In fact, he's already out cross-country skiing and his wife is snowshoeing next to him. Fuck him.
10:35 a.m.: And ... the kids are bored again. And cold. And wet. Every part of their clothing that can absorb moisture has already absorbed the maximum amount. Trench foot has begun to set in. They straggle inside and put their shit everywhere but on a coat hook. They track snow into every room before realize they have to take their boots off. You give them hot chocolate and they pick out the slimy marshmallows with their fingers and ignore the actual liquid in the cup. Fight.
And now they want lunch. It's not even 11 a.m. yet. What in the living fuck are we gonna do?
10:40 a.m. to noon: One of those Despicable Me movies or something. Stare at the light fixtures.
Noon: OK, you gotta get out of the house again or else you'll all end up stabbing one another. Back on go the wet mittens and filthy boots and soaking jackets.
12:30 p.m.: Hey, neighborhood kids! OTHER PEOPLE! Nice. They're walking over to the local school/church/creepy old lady's house to go sledding down the BIG HILL. Fuck yeah, big hill! The kids make jumps and moguls and seem to be having a good time until some ASSHOLE teenage kid shows up with a snowboard. Hey fucker, why don't you take that thing to Sugarloaf where it belongs? You're not impressing anyone using your Burton on a golf course.
1:15 p.m.: Oldest kid tries standing on her sled. Concussion #1.
1:30 p.m.: "Let's go down headfirst on our backs!" Concussion #2.
1:45 p.m.: Tree. Concussion #3.
1:50 p.m.: The snow turns to rain because God forbid you have a snow day where you can actually engage with the snow.
2 p.m.: Home. Watch all the TV you want, kids. Doesn't even matter if you're watching porn. It's fine. Whatever. Let's all rest.
4 p.m.: How is it not dinnertime yet? How have we been here for what seem like years and yet it's only 4 p.m.? JESUS. I mean really, Jesus. What did people do before television? Did they sit on Papa's lap and clap to his fiddling? That's creepy and weird. The kids are now rolling around on the floor and spewing gibberish.
YOU: Let's read!
YOU: Come on!
YOU: Let's play checkers!
KIDS: (throw toys at you)
YOU: What about this bead kit/Lego set/friendship-bracelet pack?!
KIDS: (reluctant) OK.
4:30 p.m.: Oh my God, crafts are just the fucking worst. I'd rather fill time staring at a chair. So many little pieces. So many small knots that need tying and little bits that need to be glued but refuse to stick to whatever other little bits they're glued to. There are sequins EVERYWHERE. What are we doing? Is this what life has become ... a cycle of drudgery so relentless that we volunteer to do underage factory worker toy labor? LIFE USED TO MEAN SOMETHING, MAN.
5 p.m.: Dinner. Booze. Thank you, booze, for being here when you needed to be. I am a WASP, which means that if I hold out on drinking until 5 p.m., I technically can't be labeled an alcoholic. After 5, I can mainline all the Smirnoff I please.
5:30 p.m.: Fight with the kids. Order oldest kid to her room only to hear her refuse. She's got you there.
6 p.m.: Bath.
6:30 p.m.: Reading, snacks, dishes. Probably more TV just to drive home your failure as a parent.
8 p.m.: Bed. Check forecast. Frog hail tomorrow. Christ.
Image by Jim Cooke.