Tag Archives: winter
In the dark of predawn I lay in bed, tucked snugly beneath my downy comforter, sleet pinging against the windowpanes in soft yet fitful waves. Against all odds associated with parenthood, no one under the age of eight burst into the room to announce that the sky was falling. Translation: my husband and I had had the presence of mind to skip setting the kids’ alarm the night before, in anticipation of inclement weather almost certain to arrive by daybreak. So for a time, all was silent in this good house—except for the ticking of clocks and the tiny taps at the window.
As the not-so-surprising news of yet another school cancellation reached my ears in the wee hours that day, I was filled impossibly with hope. Hope that I would enjoy a morning devoid of the madness I had known all too well since September. Hope for a day abundant with hot cocoa, kindness and good cheer. Hope that I might finally summon the strength and ambition to take down the blasted Christmas tree. The one that had been standing very nearly straight in my living room for 63 days, mocking me as I addressed my cache of shamefully belated holiday cards.
The tree had to come down. It would come down. It was January 28th for Pete’s sake. Besides, I was tired of its condescending glare, as if it were looking down its boughs at me, judging my every deficiency. Shaming my inadequate core.
Moreover, with my army of helpers that would likely be at my disposal ALL DAY (since no one wanted to frolic in the freezing rain), I banked on being able to pack up and stow away each and every jingle bell, snowman, Santa likeness and string of garland-y foolishness in the entire house. To reclaim my space. At least until Easter.
Needless to say, lots of people here agreed that it was high time. “Mom, you know we’re going to get arrested, don’t you?”
“Arrested? For what?!”
“Because January’s almost over and we don’t even have our Christmas tree down yet! We’ll all be thrown in jail!”
“Whaaaaat?! Who’s going to throw us in jail?”
“The Holiday Police.”
“The Holiday Who?!”
“The Holiday Police. They arrest people who don’t do stuff right—like taking Christmas trees down BEFORE Groundhog Day. Helloooooooooo.”
She had a point.
All I had to do was glance at the calendar and then at the muddled mess surrounding me. Remnants of the holiday season were everywhere. The Christmas lights were completely shrouded with ice and fused impossibly to the trees and shrubs outside. The stockings were still hung—and shockingly, still laden with beloved items that had been tragically forgotten since Santa’s celebrated arrival. Gifts of every size, shape and hideous stage of disarray lay like carnage throughout the house and under the aforementioned evergreen, gloriously bedecked with enough ornament-age for a forest. Legions upon legions of festive-looking dishes, alarmingly bare except for the smarmy trail of cashews and the red and green fleckage of holiday M&Ms, still rested upon my tabletops, whispering without end, “Cleeeean meeeee.” Santa’s cookie plate begged to be returned to the cupboard, the crèche longed to be back in the attic and quite frankly, the mistletoe was tired of hanging around.
What’s more, I noted that the kids had been swiping stuff from the tree for weeks—like the reindeer, now chummy with Barbie’s horses and sharing a corral, and the snowmen, warmly adopted by a family of Lego people. I even discovered a few sparkly ornaments dangling precariously from the rooftops of doll houses. Icicles maybe?
That said, it was way past time to begin the arduous process of un-decorating. Clearly, the snow day that had been bestowed upon us was a window of opportunity and perhaps the spark that would ignite my drive and determination to succeed in spite of myself. At least that was the plan.
But it was not to be. My great expectations for the day were shot by 10 am and my hopes for a tidier living room were all but dashed. For all intents and purposes, the thorny pine had become rooted there, a glaring reminder of my ineptitude as a putter-away-of-holiday-wares. Instead we frittered away the time, putting six puzzles together, littering the house with Barbie dolls and dresses, devouring books, stuffing ourselves with chocolate-chip pancakes and lounging in our pajamas till it was almost evening—at which time I sent my brood outdoors to play in the snow that had FINALLY begun to fall in big, feathery flakes. A consolation prize for my efforts.
Then again, maybe my reward was the delicious chunk of time I spent fishing for puzzle pieces with my kids, eavesdropping on their Barbie powwows, listening to the ice hit the windows—safe and sound in this good house.
Planet Mom: It’s where I live (and where the Holiday Police routinely arrive each year).
Copyright 2009 Melinda L. Wentzel
Enough already with the snow days. I’ve certainly had my fill of time home with the heathens—especially since the inclement weather, of late, has been anything but conducive to building snowmen and frolicking about in the great outdoors. Ice, somehow, just doesn’t carry the same appeal as the white, fluffy stuff. Neither does freezing rain. Nor bone-chilling temperatures.
That being said, I think school cancellations fall under the Law of Diminishing Returns—the more I experience, the less enamored with them I become. Further, they embody the spirit of my slightly twisted adage, “Too much of a good thing (like parent-child togetherness) can be horrible when it involves entertainment-starved youth and a dearth of all-things-entertaining.” Indeed, it’s likely I need a refresher course on keeping boredom at bay for the six-and-under set. (Note to self: Read 1,001 Things You and Your Kids Can Create with Pipe Cleaners and Modeling Clay! And after that, peruse the finer points of Embrace Cabin Fever, or Die!).
In all honesty, the first few days off from school with my children were wonderful—a welcome reprieve from our harried morning schedule. There were little or no discussions surrounding the topic of dawdling. No ogre-ish threats were made involving the consequences of missing the bus. No battles over the wearing of undershirts took center stage “…because I hate undershirts, Mom!” No one even checked to see if teeth or hair had been brushed, or that pajamas had been removed and subsequently replaced with suitable attire. Nor did anyone care. School was closed for the day and the gift of time—a sacred offering from the snow gods—had been bestowed upon us all. Liberated for one calendar day. I guess it’s much like I felt as a youngster—free to squeeze as much goodness out of a 24-hour period as was humanly possible.
Back then the joy didn’t wait for the official announcement to be made. Indeed, it arrived in earnest the night before a possible school cancellation. Like scores of goofy kids, my brother and I planted ourselves at a windowsill, anxiously scanned the starry skies for the suggestion of a snow flurry and clung to the hope that we would, in fact, receive the monstrosity of precipitation that had been forecast—as if we could will it to happen.
More recently, however, I’ve become obsessed with the Weather Channel and with local news stations that promise up-to-the-minute reports of closings. At an ungodly hour I stumble out of bed and glue my sorry face to the television screen, bathed in the blue-white glow that fills the entire bedroom. I do this because I lack both the initiative and the wisdom to fetch my glasses first. I then inch my snoot from left to right and back again, eye-to-eye with that stupid scroll thingy at the bottom of the screen—living in fear that I’ll somehow miss the L’s entirely. Translation: If that were to happen, I’d spend literally MINUTES in pure agony, oblivious as to whether or not I could skip the dreaded rousing-of-the-bleary-eyed-beasts-out-of-bed routine. A chore I loathe to the pithy core of my being.
But enough is enough. My charges have missed far too many days of school during this pitiful portrayal of winter. Besides, I think my kids would rather be there than home with me anyway. Perhaps it’s because I’m a pathetic parent and find it a supreme challenge to keep them content and actively engaged for any length of time (i.e. not at each other’s throats or leaping with glee upon my last nerve). Maybe it’s simply because they’re too young to fully appreciate the grand and glorious wonderment that a snow day possesses. They’re still completely smitten with the world of academia and, in fact, mourn the days when they cannot be with their teachers and friends, for whom they hold more adoration than for the sun and moon put together.
They’d never dream of actually wishing for a snow day. Ah, but that time will soon come and I’ll find them perched at a windowsill anxiously awaiting that which the weatherman hath promised.
Planet Mom: It’s where I live.
Copyright 2008 Melinda L. Wentzel
There’s nothing quite like an interminable week spent with my brood to remind me why I don’t homeschool. Sprinkle the aforementioned with an unmerciful bout of the flu and I’m that much surer I made the right decision.
Indeed, last week was ugly. For all intents and purposes, it qualified as one of those unspeakably unpleasant parenting events I hope never to revisit. That said, there were fevers and sore throats, dizzy spells and delirium, stabbing pains from head to toe and waves of uncontrollable shivers that seized their smallish bodies seemingly without end. There were moments, too, during which the afflicted pair demanded proof that they would, in fact, survive the dreadful ordeal. And because misery loves company, a profusion of sneezes, debilitating headaches and seal-inspired coughs joined the medley of horribleness that befell my unfortunate bunch.
Despite their woeful situation, they somehow summoned the strength to grouse with one another, which, of course, multiplied the joy felt by all. Not. For the record, I witnessed some of the most absurd bickering matches heretofore known to man—ones over who had spiked the highest temperature, who could more skillfully imitate a basset hound on command and who could heap the foulest mound of Kleenexes upon the floor following a sustained fit of sneezing.
The jury is still out on that one.
Considerable time was spent holed up on the couch-turned-sickbay, too, buried beneath mountains of blankets, clad in sweats, socks, Sponge Bob whateverness, a fishing hat for one and, at one point, mittens for the other. Not surprisingly, a certain sock monkey, a basketball and an armadillo named Frank were also requested—and dutifully fetched, I might add. The suggestion of naps, fitful at best, took place there in the thick of their tormented state.
Thankfully, there were times when the gods of bodily ailments smiled upon my progenies (i.e. the brief yet delicious slivers of time during which they didn’t feel as if they’d been hit by a bus that happened to be transporting a small herd of elephants). That, of course, is when they became hopelessly immersed in the ridiculousness that is YouTube (read: Harry Potter’s Puppet Pals). Naturally, an embarrassment of time was also invested while Googling the bejesus out of weird animal sounds—in the name of comparing and contrasting said sounds with their incessant barking. Like a fool, I offered my two cents—suggesting that their hideous coughs most closely resembled a cross between a depressed sea lion and the aforementioned basset hound.
Mostly, though, my function was to make voluminous quantities of chicken soup—soup that promised to tame the ills that besieged my crew. Just as it is every other time someone in this household begins to sniffle and sneeze, hack or hurl. Aside from constructing cozy nests upon the sofa, feeling foreheads and fetching whateverness day and night, I suppose the soup gig is my so-called bailiwick—not to be confused with my calling as the celebrated shoe-picker-upper, toilet-flusher and Homework Nazi.
Unlike so many of my pedestrian functions as a parent and caregiver, this one is far from thankless. Over the years, I’ve been showered with high praise and a wealth of validation for my efforts in the kitchen like: “Mom, your soup is so…SLURPABLE! You’re awesome! Can I have some more?!” Even the child who isn’t particularly fond of soup will humor me sample some when she’s reached rock bottom with a cold or the flu. Furthermore, my oldest has gone so far as to shame me into making her a batch to remedy all her ills, leaving a sad little trail of posts on my Facebook wall. I should be flattered, I suppose.
But perhaps the strangest bit of critical acclaim I’ve received to date for my soup was a request for the slurpable stuff from one of the above mentioned weirdish children.
“I’d like some for breakfast, Mom. Cold. With a straw, please.” A request that was (and continues to be) duly granted.
Once again, I think I ought to be flattered.
Planet Mom: It’s where I live.
Copyright 2011 Melinda L. Wentzel
My mother warned me there’d be days like this—days during which I’d rather swallow a cheese grater than raise children. Times when I’d seriously toy with the notion of running away from it all, forsaking those who depend on me to scrub grass stains, to scribble sappy little lunchbox notes and to be the voice of reason for my woman-child/co-ed. There would be an abundance of woeful moments, too (she assured me), when I’d bury my miserable self in the deepest, darkest recesses of a closet in hopes that no one, least of all my needy charges, would ever find me in such a sorry state—desperately clinging to my last marble.
Those unbearable chunks of ugliness, Mom promised, would be sandwiched in-between chapters of sheer joy and passages of tolerable madness—but they’d be there just the same. Shame on me for not believing her.
I had to actually visit the horribleness (as well as the pleasure) myself in order to be convinced of its existence. Like so many things in life, the highs and lows of parenthood cannot be experienced vicariously. They must be lived—for better or for worse. Tuesday, the 26th qualified as “for worse” for me. It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day—in a hurling-profusely-into-big-buckets sort of way. I have no doubt that Judith Viorst, of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day fame, would be proud of me for painting the picture so vividly.
That being said, every joint, muscle and square inch of skin ached with unprecedented intensity. Every solitary strand of hair pulsated with pain and my head felt as though it would explode (which might have been an improvement in retrospect). Even my teeth hurt. For what seemed an eternity, tsunami-sized waves of nausea crashed over me unrelentingly. At one point, I distinctly recall wanting to be put out of my misery. Like a horse with a bad leg. “Just shoot me already!” I groused to no one. Because, of course, no one else was lying on the bathroom floor at 3 a.m. in a pool of self-pity gazing at the underbelly of the loo and wondering when the urge to retch would strike again. If nothing else, having such a vantage point reminded me that my bathroom needed cleaning. Desperately.
Not surprisingly, such a ludicrous thought made me chortle—despite having reached the absolute depths of despair. There I was, seized unspeakably with an ailment that can only be characterized as evil and nestled in what I believed to be abject squalor. But like a fool, I was SERIOUSLY CONTEMPLATING THE POSSIBILITY OF CLEANING MY BATHROOM. How absurd is that?! I rarely allow such frivolities to enter my mind on a good day, let alone one in which I’d been hit by a bus.
What made matters worse (and what could be more vile than bowing to the porcelain god—again and again and again?!) was that one of my brood was stricken a mere ten hours later—in the very same hurling-profusely-into-big-buckets sort of way. Blarrrrg!
As a parent, I felt dreadfully inept—dragging my sickly body to and fro in an effort to aid this smallish child of mine. My paltry offerings were limited to reassuring her that EVENTUALLY this horrid malady would go away and find someone else to torment. I then bestowed upon her a pail and advised her never to let it leave her side—even as she slept (i.e. tossed and turned and groaned and moaned roughly 637 times) in my bed. (Indeed, I had found a surefire way to add drama and excitement to the bedroom…will she, or won’t she hit the bucket/make it to the bathroom in time?)
And to illustrate, once again, that bizarreness knows no bounds, the event itself became a twisted sort of competition—between and among those who spewed forth with wild abandon. “Mom, I beat you! I threw up 22 times and you only did it 5 times!”
Yes, we counted.
What’s more, the wretched affair had become a bit of a spectacle to the non-vomiting child in the household. “Let me see! Let me see! Oh, that’s really GROSS!” Clearly, the circus had come to town—complete with freakish sideshows and crowd-pleasing performances. Had I possessed an ounce of strength, I could have choked a certain member of the peanut gallery—or at the very least, I could have planted the seed in her mind that she, too, would soon be having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day in a hurling-profusely-into-big-buckets sort of way. Needless to say, I wanted nothing more at that moment than to desert my post. Indefinitely.
Mom was right. There would be days like this.
Planet Mom: It’s where I live.
Copyright 2008 Melinda L. Wentzel