The subzero temperatures and the icy neighborhood roads have kept Johnson County kids home more this year than in decades.
Most schools already have scheduled makeup days to meet the mandatory 180 instruction days. Brutally cold temperatures have kept kids indoors, unable to play outside for even a fleeting moment. Few kids even ask to go sledding when the wind chill is minus 30 or more.
So what have the kids been doing these past couple of weeks? It seems a whole lot more than we grown-ups did on those days when mother nature unleashed her fury.
As a kid in the ’50s and ’60s, I don’t remember being home lots and lots of days because of treacherous roads. Living out in the county, I vividly recall standing out in the bitter cold wearing a dress with tights or corduroys underneath. Wearing pants to school wasn’t allowed yet, and no one had even heard of leggings. So unless you wanted to freeze, pants or tights under the dress was the choice.
We didn’t have to make up snow days back then. I am guessing we went to school about 160 days, far fewer than today’s 180. Occasionally, when the temperatures were incredibly cold and inches and inches of snow had fallen, the radio and television stations would announce there was no school for the day. I remember being so excited that we could crawl back into our cozy beds and not face that frosty 40-minute bus ride to a school several miles away.
My sister and I would play school. Because she was older, she was always the teacher, and I was always the student. We would play for hours using only paper, scissors, glue, crayons and books.
When we had had enough of that, we would drag out the Lincoln Logs and spend even more time building log cabins on the living room floor. (It seemed there were never enough of those long, green roofing pieces to go around. One part of the cabin was always left bare.)
Our mom would make a pie and those yummy little cinnamon swirls that were made of left over pie dough. Our dad would drive up and down our long driveway to make a path with the pickup truck. I don’t know how he did it, but he never seemed to get stuck. It was fun.
Today, kids have a staggering assortment of toys to play with. From video games to movies, they can go from one activity to another and never get bored.
Despite it all, however, kids of today have many of the same feelings we did as we were growing up. They love to have a snow day from time to time but miss their friends if the time at home lingers.
Mia Zaborowsky, daughter of Chris and Megan Zaborowsky, is a fourth-grader in Greenwood. She admits she loves to have an occasional snow day to sleep in, watch movies and play games with her younger sister, Maryn. When the days drag on however, Mia is ready to go back to school.
“If the snow days are a couple of days long, I really, really start to miss my teachers and friends, so that makes me want to go back to school really, really bad,” she said.
Gabriel Dalton, 7, and Grant Dalton, 6, sons of Brian and Jennifer Dalton, attend school in Center Grove. Both boys love to have days off of school so they can pull out their sleds and slide down the steep hill at the front of their house. If the temperature is too cold, as it has been recently, the boys like to play video games and watch television. Sometimes, they visit a friend or a buddy comes to their house.
“My favorite video game is ‘Call of Duty Zombies,’” Grant said.
“I like to watch television, especially ‘Austin and Allie’ that is on Disney,” Gabriel said.
Despite loving the chance to sleep in and not getting up so early, both boys said they miss going to school when the snow days begin to add up.
“I really miss seeing my friends and my teacher,” Gabriel said.
January is at last over, but the cold, hard truth is that there are still nearly two more months of Old Man Winter’s tricks before spring can officially arrive.
No doubt more snow days are possible for Johnson County kids.
It might just be time for them to pull out those Lincoln Logs and try something new.
Carol Edwards is retired after a 30-year career teaching elementary school students at at Greenwood schools. Send column ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.