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Smelly Socks: An educational day not spent at school

Feb. 13, 2014 at midnight
Updated Feb. 12, 2014 at 8:13 p.m.


I know that Texas and Texans have taken a lot of flak about closing schools and delaying school start times when the second and most recent polar vortex, "Icepocalypse 2014" or what other states refer to as "very cold weather" hit.

Wherever you live, you have to admit that Texans do have an intense sense of drama. The usual morning shows mocked our caution, and some of my non-Texan friends and family were not very sympathetic when I explained just how far the thermometer dipped.

While we didn't have a true "snow day," we did have a lot of ice covering sidewalks, roofs, cars and roads. On the ranch, the trees and barbed wire fences were beautifully outlined in ice, and my bruised backside and elbows can attest to the sidewalks being extremely slick and iced over.

At first, Austin and Jamison's school was just going to start two hours later. But when I got up that morning and saw the ice covering the cars, I had a feeling that it would turn into a no School day/snow day for the kids. Then, I received the text that changed everything: "No school." The actual reason was a power outage, but to us, it was still a snow day.

I went to Jamison's room and found his face plastered to his window looking at the icicles hanging down from the roof.

"I know that you are going to be real disappointed, with you having those two tests you have to take, but school is canceled," I said.

"No school? It doesn't get any better than that. My first snow day. Uh, Mom, I don't see any snow. So, let's say that it is an icy ice day," Jamison explained.

"Hey, Austin. Wake up. We have an icy ice day.'" Then honestly, in complete unison and harmony, my 13-year-old, Austin, and 9-year-old, Jamison, joined their voices and let out a squeal of delight. "Yeah, baby!" Their voices rang clear.

Suddenly, the light bulb went off. I knew that after about a half hour of pure glee about no school, it was going to be up to me to usher them along through the rest of the day. This was a day that wouldn't allow them to play outside, and as they downed their second cup of hot chocolate, sugar began to take hold.

It was noon before Austin put his cellphone and the game system down. How he can manage both, I will never understand. He meandered around the house and then plopped on the couch where I was stationed. He let out a deep sigh, "Mom . now what?"

I grew antsy, "What?" I asked him. "We have books. Child, you can read. It would shock your brain, and good things might happen." I joked with him, although he wasn't amused.

"But I am not in school," he pleaded with me. I can honestly understand his plea, I am not completely heartless. I can remember having a snow day once when I was in school. A snow day is a precious rarity in South Texas. So I eased up. Snow days, or icy ice days, are meant to be savored and enjoyed.

At that time, Jamison swooped into the den with his Lego cargo plane. He zoomed all around the room making all the appropriate airplane noises of zoom along with some puttering noises. Suddenly, the cargo plane did a dive bomb.

As Austin and I were ducking our heads, the plane flew over us releasing a "bomb" of Uno cards on the couch right in the middle between my oldest boy and me. Then the plane and Jamison flew off into the next room.

"I'll shuffle. You count them out."

Austin half-heartedly perked up.

When John finally arrived home later that evening, he was greeted with Uno cards that had been used for hours on end, nearly seven empty cups of hot chocolate complete with extra mini marshmallows, Legos thoroughly scattered about, many messages on Austin's iPhone that had been ignored and some raspy Blues music coming from the CD player. It seemed that a day doing absolutely nothing, and the inability to escape to the outdoors, was exactly what the doctor ordered.

The television was never turned on during our icy ice day. I enjoyed my two boys in their natural element with no droning sounds of TV. We played cards, assembled Lego creations, drank our body weight in hot chocolate and danced the day away.

I discovered that Jamison can really shake his little booty, and that Austin has reached the age where I can sit and talk to him like he is an adult. My oldest son makes me laugh constantly with his anecdotes, and his insight into my psyche is almost frightening.

Our icy ice day brought me the shocking realization that I only have five short years left with Austin. Only five years until he turns 18 and will leave for college. Once he leaves, things will never be the same again.

He can come home, and John, Jamison and myself will be here for him, but he will have grown up and will not need us in the same way that he does now. Things will just be different (according to Dr. Phil), and I can't pretend that doesn't terrify me.

I smile when I look back at our day off of school. The boys and I both learned a lot that day, and no school was needed for that.

Johanna is a proud seventh-generation Texan. She lives on her family's South Texas ranch with her husband and two lively boys. Email Johanna Bloom or Anita Spisak at smellysocks@vicad.com.

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