damp days of december

Funny little boy in blue winter clothes walks during a snowfall. Outdoors winter activities for kids. Cute child wearing a warm hat low over his eyes catching snowflakes with his tongue

“Mrs. Baldwin, my butt is wet.” 

“I am so wet, my brain can’t work!”

“It’s so (insert weather condition) outside, I must comment on it instead of working.”

Oh fellow teachers, do any of these sound familiar? There is a litany of complaints trudging through my classroom door on these cold, dark winter days. It is a continuation of a child’s penchant for stating (and restating) the painfully obvious in this world. It does not always require a response, but for many students, it is a conversation starter, so I do try to summon the will to reply in some interesting way.

“Thank you for sharing that detail about your butt.”

“ Your brain is protected by your skull, so it can always work!”

“ That is accurate. It is (raining, snowing, icy, hot, nice, terrible) outside.”

None of these take too much energy, but the weather is a constant topic in any classroom with a window or a recess. I keep my blinds closed for this express reason, among others. I get it, the wonder of snow falling onto the field and playground is a moment that should never be denied any child in the world. And yet, I do deny it. And I deny it often.

Part of this grinchy behavior is probably related to my deep seated hatred of snow in general. There is a long, ugly history that I have never spoken about publicly, because everyone seems to love snow so dang much, and I am legitimately afraid of the backlash. I have never loved it, never found it fun, never waxed poetic about it slowly falling in the moonlight.

 Here is what I have done:  I have driven on icy roads to get from point A to point B. I have slithered and slid my way across a perilous parking lot to get into my building for work. I have closed my eyes, clutched the armrest and slammed my foot on the invisible brake as my husband drives home from work at the end of the day. I have slipped in the snow, hit my head on the running board of my minivan (don’t judge) and fallen on my head, suffering a concussion. I have slipped and fallen into a snowbank carrying two gallons of milk home from the 7-11, peeing my pants to add insult to injury. I took a sliding device and walked two miles to the  store with my family to get groceries so we could eat. Somehow a photo of that debacle showed up as our Christmas card  that year. 

Whoa. Even I did not know the extent of my snow trauma. But, ladies and gentlemen, I give you exhibit A. This is a tragic tale. This has never come up in therapy before, but it does answer a few lingering questions.

Now, you may be wondering if I have any fond memories of snow and if they have just been obliterated by my dysfunctional adult relationship with snow. The short answer is no and here is why. In childhood, when one is fat, wearing parkas and snow pants is not a good look. It does nothing so much as render you less of a human person and more of an enormous animated stuffed animal toddling down the street, trying real hard not to fall. Sledding is fun on the downhill, but then there is that long, long trudge back up the hill to begin again. And the whole cocoa-afterward situation is problematic once your mother puts you on a diet. So that means that, no I have never really liked snow. 

Enter my chosen profession. I am daily surrounded by unrelenting snow-lovers. They just love it. They like to talk about it, roll in it, make things out of it, the whole nine yards. There is no escape from it. Then we throw in the ways in which we have to manage snow as teachers. Will we be having indoor or outdoor recess today? How much time will be allowed for the putting on and the putting off of snow garments? What is the protocol for wet clothing that creates wet chairs? Do we maintain a box of loaner clothing? And the whole snowball/snowman dilemma? Do we allow students to make snowmen(or women? That is a whole other can of worms…) or does that open the door to the temptation for making snowballs, which will then inevitably be thrown and thus violate the school rule of not throwing snowballs. 

It. Is. Exhausting. Not to mention annoying. All this dramatic discussion of a hated substance. So time consuming. And we can be sure that none of this can be parlayed into meeting some core competency  of special education instruction. At least I have not found a way to do that yet. So it sucks up valuable teaching time as well. No redeeming qualities for this girl.

And yet.  I am trying to cultivate a new toolbox of neutral responses to all of the snow commentary that rolls in and out of my classroom like lingering fog. I want to stay positive when students want to talk about the snow. I do not want to quench their youthful exuberance for frozen water falling from the sky. I do not want to be Scrooge when it comes to their joy in the weather. So I keep digging deeper to answer with both honesty and positivity when it comes to snow. After all, if I expect them to have good attitudes when it comes to reading comprehension, I should be able to muster the same when it comes to snow.

So, with that being said, here’s to wet butts everywhere.