snow day(s)

Yesterday, as a sub at my sons’ school, I walked the kids to their buses through about 8 inches of unshoveled snow. I had a pretty good hunch that the roads were a mess. The snow had been falling all day; the plows couldn’t keep up. What ever happened to good old fashioned snow days? (All the pressure from working parents, I know.) Or at at least an early out? (The logistics of staggered school end times in a large urban district, I know. But STILL.)

After seeing all the second graders to their buses, I collected my own sons and prayed that we’d make it home without incident. But my compact car wouldn’t climb the last little hill on Cumberland Street. Too much snow in the street, with just enough slickness underneath to spin and spin. I ended up backing down and turning into the driveway of the apartment buildings across the street from where we live. With steamed up windows and cars waiting for me to get out of the way, I did several turns of forward and reverse, sweating all the while, before finally making it into that driveway. My thought was to drive through their parking lot to Idaho Street so I could approach our house from the west instead. But a stuck car blocked us, that car owner and a neighbor shoveling, trying to drive, shoveling some more… Fed up with driving – or even sitting in a car – I parked by the curb of one of the apartment garages, my older son protesting that we couldn’t just park here without permission.

I told him we’d ask after we got out, which is what I did, flagging down the skid-steer driver who had just cleared the spot where we’d parked our car. He was the grandson of the apartment building owner and I imagined his okay would buy us at least a few hours time. So then we walked the last block home and pulled out our snow shovels. I handed one good shovel to each boy, and I took the old bent up cast off shovel left behind by the previous home owner. The goal was to get the driveway cleared before daddy got home so he could make it up the steep incline and into the garage. We shoveled for about 45 minutes before I brought the boys in, fed them some grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, and went back out by myself to finish clearing snow and put some sand on the driveway…

All told, the district’s choice not to close school turned out to be a public relations disaster, complete with stuck buses and stranded students. It’s probably what impacted their decision to close today. We got the robo-call at 9 p.m. informing us school was cancelled for Tuesday.

The boys were already asleep. They found out this morning. “No school today,” we told our ten-year-old, who tends to be the first awake.

“I don’t know if I want to laugh or be disappointed,” he responded.

Then our seven-year-old came out of his room. “No school today,” we informed him.

“WWWWhhhyyyy?” he asked, hurrying to look out the window. There wasn’t any more snow than when he’d gone to bed last evening. And the roads had been plowed. We didn’t need the snow day today as much as we could have used it yesterday, but we’re going to make the most of it.

the value of language study

Last week a friend who was reading my blog used the word “intentional” to describe my parenting. It’s a term I’d gladly embrace, but to do so feels hypocritical.

Language learning is one area in which we’ve mostly failed our boys. And for all I know about the value of raising a bilingual child, I’ve got no excuse. Sure, our boys know a few words in their daddy’s first language, but they’re hard pressed to utter a full sentence, much less carry on a conversation.

How brazen of me to write about the value of learning a second language. Of course, it’s not too late to step up our efforts.


preschool? no, thank you

For years I’ve been feeling a certain pressure to put our older son into preschool. A few moms make me feel like I’m depriving my boy of something important. “He needs the social interaction,” they suggest. Other moms practically admit they have signed their child up for preschool so they get a break. (I think I’ve found other solutions to these “problems,” including a weekly play group.)

As I see it, our boy has plenty of years of formal education ahead of him, so why not let him enjoy the freedom to pursue his own interests at his own pace? I’ve recently learned a great term for my view: play-based learning. It involves extended bouts of uninterrupted play, and it’s a handy term to toss it out there whenever I’m in a conversation that’s starting to seem accusatory. “I do the preschool,” I tell them. “It’s play-based learning.”

And since my preschooler is now five years old (as of this week) we’re going to add field trips to our repertoire. I’ve found another mom of a preschooler to join us – so it even involves some social interaction. This week we got a tour of our local fire station, but I don’t have a plan yet for next month. What are some other good field trip ideas for preschoolers? Please share your suggestions. I’ll be sure to report on which ones we try.

Teacher pledge

I came across this teacher pledge from a book published in 1918.

Note the end where the individual promises to quit the work of teaching if unable to live up to the stated standards, so as to prevent one’s own shortcomings from falling upon “the lives of boys and girls whose potentialities for growth would be blighted” by a teacher’s arrested development.

Wouldn’t you love to see a teacher’s union take up such a cause?

A writer’s voice

I miss teaching. (Well, I haven’t given it up entirely. Now I’m primarily teaching our son, but at this point he’s too young to give me much feedback.)

I found a great quote in an email today that reminded me of reading student work: “I hope I make understand myself, even with my macaroni English.”