Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Happy Snow Day!

My friend Henning posted this video on facebook this morning in anticipation and celebration of today's snow. The Fawns are a local band fronted by Henning's partner, Lesa. I looked around the website for confirmation and couldn't find it, but I think Lesa is also the songwriter for the band.

When Henning shared the song this morning, he remarked that he didn't remember school ever being closed preemptively when he was a kid, as it was today. Of course, I grew up in southern California, so there weren't any snow days.

It's possible that preemptive snow days happened back then, even if he doesn't remember--certainly a kid's memory of a snow day would be all about playing in the snow, like the children in the video, not whether the snow started before the start of the school day or after. I wonder if he remembers school ever being dismissed early because of snow. One obvious difference between then and now is better technology for tracking and predicting storms earlier, so that schools even have the chance to cancel school preemptively.

As I understand it, schools hate dismissing early these days because getting all the transportation safely sorted out is impossible. So if a storm warning is in effect, they'd rather cancel school before the storm starts -- that way no one is stuck at school.

I wonder if it's just further evidence of our changing world, our misplaced priorities. I'm guessing that when Henning was in school, many fewer mothers worked outside the home,* so there would be someone available to pick him up if school had to close early. Also, schools were probably more willing to let children go home with a classmate's parent even without signed written permission, so that one parent from a block could round up all the children. And hey, as long as I'm romanticizing the past, even though schools have always been underfunded, they were so much better funded then than now that there were neighborhood schools. In every neighborhood. So if school had to close early, the children could just --gasp!-- walk home from school! Alone!

These days, in our town, there are only a few schools, and many children live far enough away from their school they need to be bussed. There aren't enough buses to go around, even though parents have to pay for their children to ride the school bus. So schoolday start-and-finish times need to be staggered between the elementary schools, the middle school, and the high school. If the district had to dismiss school early because of snow, there would be mayhem because they wouldn't be able to provide buses to bus all the children home at the same time. Also, parents who were already at work would probably find it trickier to get out early to go pick up their children midday. Not to mention, if indeed the messiest part of the storm is supposed to be the afternoon, who would want the roads suddenly filled with buses and cars transporting children?

And don't even get me started on liability, one of the strange and powerful words that (mis)guide our society.

Enough with the ranting, go watch the video, sing along, and meet me outside later for a snowball fight. As I write this at 10:00am, it is not yet snowing. The girls are upstairs in their room playing. And we in this house are all hoping that this is a snowpocalypse.


*I just want to be clear that I am not advocating a return to some patriarchal fantasy where all families consist of married heterosexual couples and their biological children, where only men work outside the home, and all women stay home to raise children, bake cakes, and clean house. It just seems to me that the current patriarchy that we're still soaking in continues to deny that raising children is actually valuable work, and someone has to do it. They squeeze the so-called middle class so that both parents in a two-parent household have to earn money and they shred all safety nets so that single parent families and low income families are struggling to survive. In the Ina Universe, the broken social contract would be repaired. We would recognize that it is in society's best interest that we all contribute to the welfare and upbringing of all of our children.

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