I can’t help but to be amazed and disappointed when seeing kids having school closing and delays in this day and age.
With vast advances in technology that allow us to watch movies on our phones, that gives us the creative freedom to print 3D objects and technology that lets us put our DNA in a database to discover everything we thought we knew about our ancestors was a complete lie, there’s hardly any anticipation all at for both kids and parents on learning whether or not school is cancelled due to weather or not.
For example, my stepdaughter Emma recently had three days off school because of the Polar Vortex, which is the sworn natural enemy of El Nino.
We found out about the closing while we were watching the news and the scrolling ticker at the bottom of the screen showed all the closing and delays.
Shortly before seeing that, my wife received a text message and a robo-call from the school district to inform her school was cancelled.
Oh, did I mention all that happened the afternoon the day before school was cancelled?
So, yes, technological advances in weather forecasting and communications make the public instantly aware of school closings, giving parents the time they need to set aside bread, water and toilet paper in the closet where their children will be locked in for the following day.
But where’s the mystery, where’s the anticipation, where’s the totally euphoric feeling of knowing outside forces have sympathized with you for once in your life by shutting down the school for a day, and where’s the beef?
If you understood that last reference, then you’re going to know what I’m talking about because we’re going back to that era.
It was the mid ‘80s, and my brother and I would wake from our beds to a snowy morning, look outside and our eyes would widen and then suddenly contract and begin watering because mostly everything was white with snow.
Once we recovered from temporary snow blindness, we stumbled downstairs to the kitchen where our dad was sitting in his chair, drinking coffee while the oldies station was playing on the radio.
Back then, it was rare that the TV would show delays or cancellations for us hicks out in the sticks, so we had to rely on the radio.
The radio DJ would also tease us, announcing that the closings and delays were coming right up...following traffic, weather, news, soap opera recaps and another #1 hit from 1963.
For a fourth-grader, the wait was pure torture — even though I learned that Nikki was out of her coma on “The Young and the Restless,” but then that glorious time came when the radio broadcast started reading the snow delays and cancellations; my brother and I gathered near the radio, eagerly awaiting word of our school-day fate.
The praying I did in my head was only equal to the praying I would do at night when snow started falling and my brother and I would periodically (every 10 minutes) look outside to see how the snow fell, how much of it fell, how hard it was falling and especially if it was sticking to the roads.
“Okay, God,” I’d pray on my knees outside in the falling snow to get the full effect. “I know I haven’t been the best kid in the world, and I’m willing to change, but I need time to do that, so more snow causing a cancellation would be nice and give me an opportunity for that reflection. If you make this happen, or Lord, I will make it a point not to giggle when someone says the word ‘asphalt’ — hee, hee, hee — okay, that was the last time. Now, if there’s only a delay, I may stop for a day, but that’s only for a two-hour delay. If you give us a one-hour delay, I can’t make any promises. This is a two-way street, God, so let’s do this.”
I must say the anticipation in waiting for the DJ to name our school district equaled some of my best gambling stories like watching my greyhound on the racetrack edging up to the lead dog, waiting for the blackjack dealer to maybe turn over a face card after I doubled down on an 11 or hoping a cow relieves itself on my number during cow-patty bingo.
Of course, I didn’t learn about such gambling until I was well into the sixth grade, so, at the time, I had to other experience to which I could compare.
And that is what I want for my stepdaughter.
I want her to wake up thinking it’s going to be another day, but having that hope spring up in her gut that today could be different or special, waiting for the lottery to strike with the name of her school district right before she realizes she started listening to the DJ too late as they’ve already passed her district in the alphabetical order and having to wait longer for the list to start over again. Then it’s time for the bus, and you stand outside in the knee-high snow, losing all feeling below the waist and when your mom opens the door and yells that your school has, in fact, been cancelled. You want to celebrate, but you’re too frozen and you realize you’re spending the day in the closet with only half loaf a bread and full roll of toilet paper between you and your brother.
Eh, on second thought, knowing in an instant is better…much like, despite what you were told as a kid, knowing you’re not the descendant of Austrian royalty before making a fool of yourself by trying to collect any kind of inheritance from the Austrian government.
According to Hofmann is written by staff reporter Mark Hofmann of Rostraver Township. His book, “Stupid Brain,” is available on Amazon.com.