Thursday, January 02, 2014

Waiting by the phone for school to be closed

When we went to sleep, the ground was clear. Within the next few hours, we'll be in the full grasp of what newscasters are calling alternately a snowstorm, a blizzard, a nor'easter, and of course, many other monikers I'd be familiar with if I was watching the news.

I'm not. I'm waiting by the proverbial (and actual) phone for an email from my toddler's preschool to find out if school is closed. Enough snow is forecast and the temperatures are going to be so cold (by New England standards) that my work sent out an email cancelling school at 5:15pm yesterday. This is a highly unusual move. Some local school districts have already preemptively cancelled two days of school.

I check my email again. Still nothing. 

Reliable info about the storm is hard to come by. The stuff I really need to know is on Facebook. School X has already closed. School Y has announced they'll be closed for two days, I read at 3:45 am as I nurse my infant. School Z has not yet "called it". The salient points for a local parent are distilled in a series of statuses. The city of Boston has declared a parking ban at noon. Now I have a dilemma.

Will she have school or not? And if she does have school, what will I do? Do I dare brave the drive if there will be nowhere to park?

As a teacher from Canada, I'm of mixed minds about the snow. On the one hand, I like a day off as much as anyone. (Being on maternity leave, that point is pretty moot.) On the other hand, I can't resist the thoughts of "you call these puny flurries a snowstorm?"  Sometimes, however, we really do have a lot of snow here in New England. But my hometown of Toronto spent much of Christmas week without power due to an ice storm. Tepid or not, this snowstorm will be just enough to make my toddler CRAZY if we have to stay home.

If school closes, what are my options? A full day of Dora and Sesame Street? No way. A walk to Starbucks or the local ice cream parlor? Possibly, but we just did those over vacation and I don't want to raise a toddler who expects fancy hot chocolate multiple times per week. Sledding? Not with an infant. Baking cookies will kill an hour, tops. 

To make matters worse, if she doesn't get out enough energy during her normal activities, she won't be tired enough to nap. She'll just be tired enough to make my life miserable.

My husband's work does not get snow days and I have a doctor's appointment. Thus, the parenting juggle begins. Will he take the day off? Will I take a 6 week old infant AND a toddler to the doctor with me? That option is not entertained for a second.

The tentative plan - my husband takes my daughter to work, plants her in an empty cubicle with some crayons and the baby and I take the subway to them after my appointment to pick her up - reads like it could be a sitcom plot. But it's not that funny. It's terrifying.

I maintain hope until the last second that school will be open. My daughter's wonderful no-nonsense Russian Preschool has many strengths. I love that they never close. The last time we had snow, other schools called early dismissals for 1, 3 and 3:45. My daughter's school stayed open until 6 and employed people to shovel out parking spaces around the school. I picked her up at 5 like normal, and she was playing very happily when I arrived. I drove slowly and cautiously and didn't regret it for a second.

Being a parent has turned the delight of snow into something I dread the most - a disruption to our routine. That is the crux of my problem. My daughter does well surrounded by friends and toys and teachers who are running familiar and pedagogically sound activities. I love spending time with my child, but she NEEDS to go to school.

At 6:49am, the email comes. My daughter's school is closed for today. It must be one heck of a blizzard. More snow is forecast for tomorrow morning, during rush hour. Now begins the scramble for today and the wait for another email - will my daughter have school tomorrow?

Pray for me.