Tuesday, December 06, 2005

snow day, take one

Yes, we're having a snow day with less than six inches of snow on the ground, and temps in the 40s predicted for later in the day. When I first moved here I, too, scoffed at the ineptitude of these southerners who couldn't handle snow. I don't scoff anymore; I just welcome the occasional break in routine that winter offers us. Yes, it snows here, and yes, we have snow days every year after relatively light snowfalls, certainly not enough to slow things down in New England or the Midwest. But, because we really don't get much snow, we can't really justify the expense of investing in the plows, personnel, and other equipment that would make it easy to remove the snow and keep going. I think we as a community have chosen, consciously or not, to accept the inconvenience of a few snow days over the expense of investments that would take a long time to pay off. If it's a choice between air-conditioning the schools and paying for snow removal (and I'm not sure it is), I choose air conditioning, which affect many more days out of the year.

So Nick is outside in snowgear, playing with the neighbor kids who are also at home, and Mariah is upstairs strumming her guitar. I stayed home from the office this morning because I don't teach today anyway, and I've been catching up on work from home. I've actually been more productive than I am many Tuesdays, perhaps because things are a little up in the air and my routine's been disrupted. I'll go in later today to keep some appointments and do some prep for tomorrow, but I'll also probably bake something (well, in addition to the muffins I made for breakfast) and try to get a pot of soup going. Tomorrow we'll all be back at work, rested from our unusual mid-week break.

I do recognize that my flexible schedule makes it possible for me to welcome these breaks with pleasure rather than annoyance or--worse--a fear for my job. I don't need the schools to provide child care for me, in other words, while many parents do. I don't know what those parents do on days like today--take a sick day, find a relative to stay with the kids, bring the kids to work? It all comes back to feminism for me, then: feminism needs to create a society in which men and women share these burdens equally, and in which children's and families' needs are central to the design of society. This would mean emergency childcare centers, paid emergency leaves, and, in general, the generous recognition that all lives matter.

These things seem possible when I look outside and see trees glittering in the sun, cars driving by more slowly, and children playing all along the block. Later today when the snow has turned to slush and the kids are tired and crabby, I'll no doubt return to my more cynical self.


Sandra said...

In Chicago, the schools are never closed. Even if a snowstorm is so bad that transportation is impossible, attendance is optional but the buildings remain open and children can report to the nearest school, even if it's not the one they usually attend. This is because families need the schools for childcare and also for free or reduced-price meals--breakfast and lunch.

Libby said...

What a great policy! Here in the south public schools are not quite so accommodating. We have a history here of not accommodating, after all, and it's hard to get over that. But I'm glad to see that's not a universal problem