Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Barefoot in the snow and uphill both ways


As the coldest air in years passed through my area the city prepared to grind to a halt. Throughout social media, friends and acquaintances posted pictures of empty milk bins and barren bread shelves all the while decrying that people are panicking over the weather which, thankfully, fell short of the apocalyptic predictions.

The cliche in this part of the country is that people clear out the shelves of perishables in preparation for a weeks long snow-in.


That didn’t happen. It hasn’t happened in a long time. We’re better prepared to deal with nature’s deep-freeze. But I also noticed a lament expanding regarding the public school system. The superintendent decided that it was too cold for kids to wait at bus stops.

The people in charge also worried about getting the buses started. If they didn’t start and get to the students on time, wait times could go 30 minutes or more longer than normal as the system would try to get substitute buses on the roads - provided they start. With daytime high temperatures around 0 on both the Fahrenheit and Celsius scales and it seemed a reasonable precaution.

Not so, according to the grown ups via their computerized town hall. “They never cancelled school on account of cold when I was a kid,” or some paraphrase of that statement. Or “kids aren’t tough anymore.”

All that grousing is actually the “your blues ain’t like mine” syndrome. In other words, nobody had it as bad as me because I walked to school barefoot in the snow...etc.

I did some checking. As a kid, the lowest high temperature during my school years was 5 degrees. Arguably, that was too cold for anyone to be outside for an extended period of time. On the days we’re discussing the high temp was around 3 degrees.

So is it possible that, like people, communities get smarter over the years and don’t make the same mistakes they made before? In hindsight, maybe it was a mistake to risk thousands of cases of frostbite rather than adding an extra day to the end of the school year. Standing on a bus stop, waiting for a late bus when I was 10 was not fun, just as it’s not now all these years later.

Does that make our kids less tough? Or does keeping them in cozy surroundings contribute to their well-being? When city officials urge residents to stay inside unless absolutely necessary, would we be hypocrites to send our youngest out into it anyway?

And what are we telling our kids? That they're not good enough? Is that the way to handle your disappointment and the fact that you have to adjust your schedule for them?

Perhaps we should see it as extra days we can use to show our children that we love them and that the “cold cruel world” has a heart after all.

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