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Snow Daze

December 12, 2007

UPDATE!  The schools in the area erred on the side of caution and cancelled school for today.  Me?  I’m sick, so I’m trapped in the house with the kids and a cold.  Fun stuff! 

Little IT came home with a note today advising that the weather forecast for tomorrow might necessitate an early dismissal from school.  And so begins the game of fun that all parents, especially working parents, enter into.  Fear, dread and loathing all in one tidy, snowy white package. 

What’s your plan for an early closure?  Do you have a neighbor ready to get your kid of the bus, or pick him up at school if need be?  Or will you be caught utterly off guard, as I was about 3 years ago.

I was on a business trip in Seattle in mid-February.  The day there was sunny and bright, crisp and cool.  I was driving to the airport to pick up a colleague and head to a business meeting when my cell phone rang.  It was the “transportation manager” at Little IT’s school (who knew there was such a position.)  He informed me that Little IT was on her way back to school via bus because there was no one at my house to pick her up off the bus.

Well of course there wasn’t.  It was Tuesday, and mom was to pick her up at school.  No, he said, after school programs were cancelled, so she was sent home on the bus.  She wasn’t in an afterschool program, I protested.

After a lot of “who’s on first”, I figured out the following – the Northeast was in the grip of a major ice storm.  My instructions to school were that she would be picked up, except the ice was so bad my mother could not make it out of the steep driveway of her apartment building.  Mom called my neighbor, and arranged for Little IT to go home on the bus to his house – same route, different stop.  However, the bus driver did not have this info and would not let Little IT off the bus.  Instead, she returned to school and awaited….something.  There really wasn’t a plan at that point.  I got a hold of Little IT at school.  She was, get this, the last kid left at school.  Made me feel like parent of the friggin year.  When I got her on the phone at the school she sounded shakey but was putting up a brave front.   I talked to the principal who said Little IT was fine, but had been crying.  She reassured me that she was staying with Little IT until she was picked up, whenever that might be.  Throughout all this, Mr. IT was at work in the city, where the weather wasn’t so bad and he had no idea what was going on.  Next call was to my neighbor, who agreed to brave the storm and head to school as soon as another neighbor got home and he could get him to watch the 7 kids assembled at his house.  It took about an hour of  phone calls, but in the end, Little IT did wind up safe and sound.   

What a relief.  Here I was, Miss Worst Case Scenario groupie and self-confessed MacGuyver Jr. and I was totally helpless, thousands of miles away and utterly incapable of helping my child.    It did cause a number of changes:

1.  Mr. IT was signed up for the “blast”, which is how they notify parents of emergencies at school.  It probably would have taken him at least 90 minutes to get home, which wouldn’t have been of much help, but it would have made me feel better. 

2. I changed the emergency pick up instructions to allow Little IT to go home on the bus and get off with our neighbor. 

3. I set up a back up to that plan, and a backup to the backup.  You can’t be too prepared, and it does indeed take a village to get through this stuff.

Here’s hoping tomorrow is not too icky, and no kids are left stranded at school.  Take the time now to review YOUR worst case scenarios and make sure your child(ren) are not left flapping in the breeze. 

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 13, 2007 10:12 am

    I remember the Seattle fiasco! I was there no? It’s a issue though. Especially in the northeast where snow and transportation are already challenging. Sounds like you have a good plan A, B and C in place.

  2. December 13, 2007 5:33 pm

    Yep, this is one of those reasons I’m always thankful I work at home. Not only do my kids know to come home, so does most of the neighborhood. Whose moms are mostly SAHMs, but whatever. The company’s always welcome.

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