I grew up in Atlanta, which means that the term "snow day" looked a lot like this when I was a kid: Approximately once a year, usually in March, meteorological conditions would align in such a way as to indicate the possibility of snow. Once this possibility grazed the horizon for our local weatherpeople, it immediately dominated the news, complete with casual headlines like "SNOWMAGEDDON '04: We're Definitely Gonna Die This Time" and booming introductory music that played every time they updated viewers on the "developing weather situation bearing down on Georgia," which was about every 8-12 minutes. This would go on for, like, two days. Nine times out of ten, this "significant winter weather event" would amount to a light dusting of a snowish substance (it's the off-brand snow to the name-brand "real" snow that comes down in properly cold parts of the country), and even that would be melted by noon.
The fact that the non-chill-having meteorologists in Atlanta would have built up this meager snow shower to be a city-crushing blizzard, and that the city would have spent two days shining up its three salt trucks, meant that despite the fact that there would be less than no actual reason for anyone to pause their normal lives, the city would shut down: No one would drive (probably for the best, since Atlantans, for all their many charms, don't have a clue how to deal with even the slightest hint of frozen precipitation on the ground), the stores would be sold out of milk and bread, and school would definitely be cancelled.
As a kid, obviously this ruled. (And that's how I would've described my feelings about it: "This rules!" And then I would've pumped my fist in the air, grabbed a Sunny D from the fridge, and then gone off to find my puffy-sticker-covered journal write about how much it ruled, in gel pen.) All I wanted was to put several layers of socks over my hands, several layers of sweatpants on my body (Atlanta kids don't really have proper winter gear because, again, once a year, guys) and run outside to scrape all the snow from the bushes and windshields, which, when diligently combined, amounted to almost enough for one very anemic snowman (who would still end up being 40% twigs and leaves). By the time it was done being assembled and reverently gazed upon by the neighborhood kids, my sock-gloves would be soaked through and I would drag my numb extremities into the house to eat some Pizza Rolls and watch Maury. Snow days were amazing.
OK, you probably get where this is going: It's now 20-something years later, and I am the proud keeper of a small, snow-loving child. We live in New York now, where it snows considerably more. As a result, he has all kinds of proper winter gear, but the differences stop there — his tiny brain freaking explodes and melts out of his ears with joy whenever it snows.
When I was a kid, I never considered how my mom felt about snow days, but judging by my own feelings about them now, and a slightly less ego-centric look what my childhood might've been like from her perspective, I'm guessing she hated them a lot. Because I do too, and I'm starting to think that outside of simply "liking things that make our kids happy," which only goes so far, snow makes parents' lives really, obnoxiously difficult.
Getting Them Dressed
If there's one part of parenting where time seems to stop and moments stretch on for centuries, it is the time in the morning when you're trying to put clothes onto your child's body, or trying to convince them to put clothes onto their own body. It's a psychological endurance test that parents are subjected to daily. This struggle is exponentially harder when there's snow on the ground — more layers, and heavier ones, and none of them are optional.
School Sometimes Gets Cancelled
There is probably no example of the difference between childhood and parenthood that is more encompassing of the distinction between these two phases of life than the snow day. As a kid, it's the best possible thing that could happen. As an adult, it's like, "Hey, instead of letting your child go off and be academically and socially nurtured all day while reaping the benefits of further establishing their independence away from you and developing beneficial relationships with people who aren't you, while you get to go to work, earning money to support your family, and engaging with the other aspects of your identity, which amounts to a vital investment in your well-being that will then be returned to your children in the form of you not resenting them and feeling stifled as a human by their existence; Instead of spending this day apart from each other in ways that are absolutely essential to both of you as individuals and the overall health of your dynamic together, how about instead, you just sit in the house together all day while you stress about missing work, and your kid basically acts like a rabid caged animal, throwing itself from one wall to the next, all day except for the 20 minutes spent outside — which is ultimately just a glorified way to bring dirty water into the house — and the latter part of the afternoon, when you've finally given up, surrounded them with multiple screens, while you sit in the corner, cowering, timidly throwing Pizza Rolls at them, praying for the day to end and for school to reopen tomorrow."
Yeah, snow days are bullsh*t.
Walking Around Outside
Kids are really ineffectual at getting around as it is — they're either too slow, or run too far ahead, or trip over their own feet like baby deer — and this problem is only made far worse by the presence of clunky snow boots and enough layers to render them incapable of bending over far enough to even see their own feet, let alone stop themselves from tripping over them.
Your World Becomes A Soggy Hellscape
You know what's the exact opposite of the pristine beauty of a snow-covered scene outside your windows, viewed from a warm, cozy perch inside your dry, heated home? That same snow, dragged into your once-dry, heated home by your disgusting children and their vile boots. Same goes for the car (actually, this is worse). By the end of the first day of snow on the ground, the floors of your home and car will be puddled with melted snow, and later (after at least one child has slipped in said puddles at least once), caked with dried street salt, dirt, and your tears. By the end of winter, you won't even remember what being clean feels like.
Your Kids Are Cold (Or They "Aren't Cold" And They Are Liars)
One of two things will happen when you go outside in the snow with your kids: They will repeatedly tell you how freezing cold they are, despite the fact that you've taken all the anti-frostbite precautions and covered their bodies thoroughly. They will say this accusingly, like you have some control over the weather, or that you made it cold outside specifically to upset them. Or, if they want to play in the snow (aka, make sure they're as soaked as possible before running back into your house), they'll repeatedly assure you that they are not cold, which is a lie. It's a lie that would end in frostbite if they had their way.
It Isn't Ending Anytime Soon
Sure, there are some days when it's snowing a lot, or not at all; sometimes a bit of it melts, but in general, if you live in a part of the country where snow is more than one day of overreaction, the worst part of all of this is that is goes on, and on, forever, until the end of time. Once the first snow falls, you will never again be able to leave with house without fighting a tiny war with your child about the need for a hat; you will never again be able to come home without bringing gross snow into the spaces you once freely walked barefoot in. It's going to last forever. This is your life now, permanently, until you die. No, you're being dramatic. No, YOU don't understand "how seasons work."
Under Those Layers Is A Smelly Kid
Fun biology fact: Cold doesn't stop sweat. Your sweet little friend's face might be icy and rosy and adorable while you're out in the snow, but as soon as they've trudged their bodies, covered in pounds of extra clothing, through the heavy snow, and finally made it inside, those layers will peel off to reveal a very stinky kid under there. It's fine. Humans are gross. Snow is hell. It's all good. You'll get through it together.
Images: Joseph Choi/Flickr; Giphy(7)