School Closings? Sure-fire Rituals to Bring on a Snow Day.

School Closings? Sure-fire Rituals to Bring on a Snow Day.

Is there anything sweeter than a snow day? In my own pre-internet childhood, the blast of the town fire whistle at exactly 6 a.m. was the sound of pure freedom—as welcome as a last-minute call from the governor.  

Snow days have been much on my mind this past week. Here in Northern Indiana, we’ve been getting a teasing amount of Lake Effect—enough to send my two kids’ hopes soaring nightly. Each morning, Hannah lifts a corner of her bedroom shade to peer out expectantly—then heaves a theatrical sigh at the sight of our freshly salted and plowed road.

Apparently, though, there’s no need to leave this matter to the whims of Mother Nature or some hard-ass superintendent. The Grand Rapids Press reports on a host of kids’ snow-day superstitions designed to coax a bus-halting blizzard out of the clearest sky.  Among them: flushing ice cubes down the toilet, placing a spoon under the pillow, and engaging in endless variations of the snow day dance.


Teachers, too, have their rituals, I learned after some strenuous follow-up reporting. (I posted  a query on my facebook status.)   One elementary school librarian shared lyrics to her own top secret song and dance routine ["ONE singular sensation...every little flake she shakes...." ] I confess this came as a shock to me: I had always imagined my own teacher weeping quietly into her apple-shaped coffee mug in disappointment that she could not administer that day’s pop quiz on The Iliad.

Inspired, we tried out several of these snow rituals ourselves.  Hannah and Ethan risked some serious chafing and donned their pajamas inside out as is widely recommended. (A waggish friend shuddered at her youngest ‘s desire to wear her Pull-Up inside out.) 8-year-old Ethan reveled in the opportunity to toss something in the toilet that didn’t belong there—for once with full parental approval. Every morning after such labors, we awoke to plenty of white stuff—but no actual snow day.

Perhaps we lacked proper conviction. Child development experts might consider snow day rituals  examples of “magical thinking“—believing that the mind can cause an event to happen just by thinking or wishing it. Our long-ago ancestors danced to make the corn grow thick and high: Today, our kids do it to get out of science lab.  

But does such magic really have a place in our Doppler radar world? I was moved by the musings of  Connecticut high school teacher Mark Dursin who wrote a beautiful essay on snow rituals for the Hartford Courant a few winters ago. In it, he reflects:  

“Consider, for a moment, your Typical Teen. When her ear isn’t occupied by an iPod, she’s got a cell phone up to it. And, when she isn’t talking to her friends on her cell, she’s IM-ing them about the new photos she uploaded to her Facebook page. . .  . And yet that same girl, when she hears about a potential nor’easter, will push aside all her electronics, grab a decidedly low-tech spoon and embrace the deliciously irrational possibility of magic and wonder. And there’s something sweet about that.”

Could it be merely be a coincidence that the night we finally gave up—the night the kids went to bed in right-side out pajamas with room-temperature toilet water-—we awoke to the first bright sun in days?  Maybe we just need a little more ice in our toilet ….. 

Do you have a foolproof snow ritual? Please share it in the comments section below. My children thank you.

Photo by Clairity

Jennifer King Lindley has written for FamilyFun, Parenting, Wondertime, Utne Reader and other national publications. Despite more than a decade as a staff editor at New Age Journal, she could not tell more


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