Wednesday 07 Dec 2016

Baby, It's Cold Outside
Jennifer Flaten

Vroom! Cars were coughing to life as children began to stream out the cafeteria doors. Once the kids arrived outside a teacher heavily swaddled in winter garb herded them to a specific location on the sidewalk.

Once the kid was in the designated pick up zone, their frostbitten parent would zoom up and collect them into the family vehicle and roar off.

As soon as that student sped off another kid shuffled into the open slot.

There is no disputing that after school pick is a highly choreographed production.

As much as I appreciated this efficient system, I just wanted to collect my kids and be on the way, the sooner the better.

You see, I had been sitting in the below zero temperatures for over 25 minutes. Sure, I ran the heater, but sparingly. You can't sit with the car idling for that long.

I know at this point, you are wondering why the hell I would be waiting for 25 minutes. I will spare you the boring details but rest assured I had a darn good reason.

See the sooner you arrive the better position in line you get otherwise the wait is even longer.

Anyway, the kids arrived moments before I turned into a Popsicle.

Thrilled that I was finally free of line purgatory I sped towards home.

While en route, I began to engage my kids in the typical game of after school 20 questions.

These questions included but were not limited to; How was your day? What special did you have? What did you do at recess? These are all standard after school/parent child questions.

My queries included what I considered the most important question, "Who has homework?"

In a deafening chorus, each child indicated that they had homework. No surprises there, but what did amaze me was that each child was certain that school would be canceled the next day.

It seems that the teachers had already informed their students that school would not be in session tomorrow.

I was surprised that they would be so sure of that.

Granted, at the moment, it was 5 degrees out with a nasty wind blowing, making it a body numbing 20 below, but I figured they wouldn't decide until the next day dawned.

Especially, since the kids had already missed a day and a half due to inclement weather, I wasn't sure we had any days left to miss.

If they had another day off I anticipated them going to school until July to make up days.

We were having a vigorous discussion about the potential day off. My kids love school and didn't like the idea of missing another day. Frankly, I didn't want them to miss another day either.

I tried to be the voice of reason explaining that it may not happened and that we needed to proceed like school was in session tomorrow, so that meant homework.

As it turns out the teachers were right, at about 6pm the school district released their official announcement of closure due to dangerous temperatures.

Yep, dangerous temperatures were on their way. Apparently, cold front was coming down from Canada to kick our sorry butts. You would think that hardy Wisconsinites could handle a little wind chill.

It appears we cannot, because the kids missed not one but two days due to dangerous temperatures.

With the two days missed due to sub zero weather, two early release days (don't even get me started on those) and one oddly placed day off at the end of the month the kids spent about 15 days in school, and it is not like these are 10 hour days we are talking about.

The kids start at 9:00am and get done at 3:40 pm. Actually, they start at 8:52 and end at 3:42 but that is just the most ridiculous time structure I have ever encountered I refuse to use those lame times.

Which leads me to wonder how much of an education they are getting? When they are not being released early, or kept home due to holiday or nasty weather, they are watching videos or having a snack to celebrate a birthday.

When exactly do they actually learn the fundamental skills? I am beginning to understand why people choose home schooling.

At least with home schooling when it is too cold to be outside you can still be inside your home learning, instead of at the water park.

Which is where a majority of my kids' classmates spent the dangerously cold day. Either they spent it at the water park and the local indoor playground, not many actually stayed inside at home.

I find it mind boggling that it would be too cold to get the kids shuttled to school, but yet some families made the 35 mile trip (in sub zero temps) to splash around in a pool.

According to the news, the local shopping mall thronged with kids who had nowhere else to go.

So remind me why they couldn't go to school? Oh yeah, it was too cold outside.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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