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Challenge: Pandemic Parenting

Even in a pandemic, a snow day is still a snow day

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My 15-year-old son came to me Saturday, telling me a screw fell out of his lacrosse stick and asked if I could drive him to the store to have it repaired. Sitting at my desk on a weekend working, because, hey, what’s the difference during a pandemic when every day feels the same, I said, “Sure, I’ll take you tomorrow before the snow begins.”

I barely looked up from my computer screen. Satisfied with my answer, my son walked back down to our finished basement to resume watching TV, talking to his friends over FaceTime, studying, playing video games, and pretty much living the life a teenager should not be living because there’s a pandemic going on.

Aside from the occasional small get-together with his friends, my son is pretty much housebound and isolated. Even his two college-age older sisters aren’t here. After one was home since the start of the pandemic and the other for a month over Christmas break (she went back in September), both have returned to start the spring semester (remotely) away from home. Now it’s just my son and I and the cat in our once loud home.

In the car on Sunday, on the way to the lacrosse store one town over, the snow started to come down. It was 12:30 p.m., earlier than the weather forecasters predicted. Looking out the window, my son said, “I hope we have a snow day tomorrow.”

Not thinking, I responded, “Why would you have a snow day when everyone can just go to school remotely?”

With the wisdom that, as an adult, I should’ve displayed and the innocence of someone who is not yet an adult, my son gave me a response that stopped me in my tracks: “Because the school doesn’t want to deprive us of the joy that comes from having a snow day.”

Now, whether or not that’s true, I have no idea. But it made perfect sense, and I hoped it was true. Of course, the school could’ve declared a remote school day for all, allowing those children who attend in-person to stay home along with the teachers (our school offers a hybrid option with staggered days for in-person and remote learning). And snow days are, I believe, still built into the school calendar, despite the ongoing pandemic.

But wouldn’t it be nice if my son was right, that our children’s joy, the joy that could come from something as simple as a snow day, even when you’re a sophomore in high school, would be a consideration.

His reason sounded good to me; in fact, it sounded great. It was a stark reminder of all we have lost since March and all that we still have to be thankful for, including a snowstorm and an unexpected day off from school. When my son eventually wakes up today (teenagers!), I’m looking forward to seeing him get out outside for a little while, just like he did when he was a little boy.

I went with it. “Yeah, you’re probably right.”

My son deserves to have the joy of a snow day, even in a pandemic. We all do.

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