Lessons from a Polar Vortex

Lessons from a Polar Vortex


We made it to the last day of January. Half-frozen but, we made it. January of 2014 will be the topic of discussion for years to come. Historic lows and snowfall amounts were recorded around the country. According to one website the economic impact of this January will be in the billions from loss of work, airline cancellations, city government’s paying for extra street maintenance, wrecks, and lack of travel. Zillions (yes, zillions – I don’t have an exact figure) of children missed consecutive days of school while parents had to make decisions on who would miss work and who would go to work. January 2014 made us all think about things in a different way.

My children, in particular, learned many things while staying at home during January.

They learned what a Polar Vortex was and how it could affect their lives. They watched the weather channel avidly in the evenings and placed bets on the odds between delay or cancellation. They learned how to use the AccuWeather app and apply the numbers to the school regulations concerning inclement weather. We had a long discussion of the word “inclement” while practicing patience for the school to make the official phone call. They learned new ways to celebrate good news.

They learned how to play cards. This may not seem like much, but learning to accept defeat time after time and rise to challenge again can’t always be taught at school. Imagine the joy when a 7 year-old defeats the Master Champion (aka Mom) in front of everyone else. They learned to be gracious when winning because the next time they might be the looser. They learned very quickly how to add up to 21 without using their fingers or forfeit their game. They learned to be watchful about the cards already played and to be crafty about which card to discard. Most of all they learned to take turns and use their minds in different ways.

The children learned to get along or they would find themselves cleaning all manner of things. They learned that even when out of school they had to take showers and wear deodorant. They still had to brush their teeth and hang up their towels. They learned that “alone” time was OK and that a smart aleck answer was not always required. Most of all they learned that school or no school, they were created to think and do.

One day they learned to use the sewing machine by sewing designs on paper. Another day, they learned to peel boiled eggs – which can be difficult if the egg is still warm. All learned that in the bible there was a little scripture that said, “Be kind to one another.” They soon could write it without looking it up again.  They learned to make their beds even if they were going to get right back in it that night. They learned that it was NOT acceptable to throw away a quarter of an uneaten apple. Gross or not, they dug it out, washed it off and ate it. Quick learners that they are, they only threw away food one time.

I taught the kids about spelling and preparedness by making them write grocery lists and think about possible menus if the electricity went out. They learned to text the grocery list to dad at work so he could stop on the way home. We tracked out to the propane tank to look at the little gauge and discussed why it helps to throw salt on the drive. We made other lists of things a person would need in an emergency. Charmin tops the list for me. Water, matches, and candles were close behind.

After nine consecutive days at home, I thought they were coming along quite nicely and then they returned to school. They attended for one day. The teachers gave them a “snow day packet” just in case. Obediently, they began the task after school.

I asked the second grader if he needed my help and he said that he wanted to try finishing it all by himself. After a bit, he brought me a paper. I looked over his vocabulary and came to the word “Wider.”

I read his definition and then I read his sentence out loud: My mom and dad are wider than me.

I looked at him. He started to giggle. I raised an eyebrow. He giggled more and said, “Well, it’s true!”

Just who in the world would assign a second-grader the word “Wider?”

About Fawn Musick

Writings to make you Smile and Think. Fawn is an award winning newspaper columnist. She is an avid writer, blogger, and mom. Her advice comes from her years of mothering her eight children.
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