My children have gained a whole new education as a result of an abundant amount of time off school this winter.
As the grateful recipients of nine snow days, multiple PA days, the March Break and a four-day Easter weekend, they have spent a fair bit of time at home during this past snowy season.
Since I have an intense interest in my children’s safety, I too was pleased with the succession of snow days that kept them of a school bus traveling on roads resembling a skating rink or ski hill summit.
I also viewed each day as a chance to provide my young children with a variety of valuable out-of school learning opportunities.
For example, I encouraged them to use their bonus time to catch up on their chores around the house. I even touted the benefits of anticipating and surpassing the requirements of some of these tasks. This, I felt was a valuable lesson that, at 12 and nine years of age, they should be able to understand and appreciate.
Instead, they learned to evade these suggestions by developing an acute sense that indicated precisely the instant that I would take a break from my own work to inquire how theirs was coming along. As I’d step away from my desk, I would hear scurrying, similar to that of mice upon hearing the approach of trap-setting people. Since they weren’t “in my face”, they knew I would continue to make the most of the opportunity to get back to work, and allow them to remain invisible.
I also had hoped, with these breaks from the non-stop rush of our busy lives, my kids would get re-acquainted and enjoy each other’s company while playing games, doing puzzles, and participating in other quiet cooperative activities.
What they learned instead is that tormenting each other does not simply need to be reserved for filling in the blanks between activities, but rather can be the actual activity itself.
The kids seemed to revel in the excess of time, amusing themselves by annoying each other. They created a game that involved pilfering things from each other’s rooms and chasing, catching and wrestling for the return of each item. Ordinarily, episodes like these would result in irritated shrieks and shouts for a parent to step in, but on these days, neither was seeking parental intervention…which at times, I attempted to offer, but the sound of my footsteps would send them retreating ever so quickly to the cover of their own rooms.
Another suggestion I made was that they re-discover some of the dust-covered books that they haven’t had time for, and enjoy some pleasure reading.
Although both kids felt this to be somewhat worthy, my son acquired a taste for day-time television. Since it wasn’t the melodramatic soap operas or sensational talk shows, I tolerated his interest in this program that spans generations: the Price is Right. He would sometimes urge his sister and I to come on down and play along, which was a learning opportunity for me. Although I always suspected it to be true, this confirmed that they have just about no concept of the value of money.
My daughter now believes in superstitions, due to the great success she had when placing a plastic fork under her pillow, and wearing her pajamas inside- out…the best possible way to ensure a snow day.
My son attempted to play homework roulette, which is indicative of a new way of thinking that I will be helping both kids to break: there’s snow point doing today what can be put off until tomorrow!
originally appeared in the Waterloo Region Record