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The Warmth of Home

  • Posted on December 13, 2010 at 4:16 PM

After the storm came through the Midwest, the older boys started hoping that school would be canceled.  It takes a lot for Janesville to cancel school, and we weren’t getting any more snow this morning, so I didn’t really expect it.  But this morning I checked before I woke the boys up, and I’m glad I did.

School wasn’t canceled.  We weren’t expecting more snow.  And, for Wisconsin, we really didn’t get that much.  We only got a few inches of rainy ice and a few inches of snow.  We certainly didn’t get the collapse-the-roof-of-the-Metrodome type of storm other areas got.  But, after seeing that many school districts were either canceling or delaying school (mostly due to rural routes that aren’t plowed as quickly as the city routes), I also checked the weather. 

This morning we had a severe weather warning due to the extreme cold in the area.  Because of wind chill and the remnants of the storm system, the outside conditions put vulnerable people at risk for hypothermia and frostbite.

Now, it’s not like I honestly expected that my boys might get frostbite during the short walk from the house to the bus and from the bus to the school.  Nor did I expect the schools to keep them outside waiting until school started.  The boys could have gone to school.  Considering the snow, it was safe enough for them.  However, I kept the boys home. 

A key factor in the warning was to “dress warm” and wear “hats and gloves.”  Most winter days this isn’t a problem.  The boys have all gotten over their sensory issues with hats and gloves, so they’ll actually wear them.  We have hats, gloves, warm coats, snow pants, and snow boots for each of the boys.  I can bundle them all up nice and warm and send them out the door.

But then there are those sensory issues again.  They’ll wear all of their warm stuff.  But, they also chew on their gloves and they chew on the upper part of their coat—you know the part of the collar that goes up over the mouth and maybe as far as the nose, the part with the zipper.  Most of the time, considering the relatively small amount of time they spend outside, this is just a risk of chafing.  Ben’s little face gets red and chapped.  So does Willy’s and Alex’s, though not quite as bad as Ben’s does.  Little fingers get cold wearing those saliva-wet gloves.

Of course, today there was that warning.  Temperatures, with wind chill, well below zero.  Risk of hypothermia and frostbite.  The boys hadn’t had many absences, so I figured it was a good time to keep them home.  Let them stay out of the cold and keep all their little noses, fingers, and chins warm and dry.

Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of keeping up with the boys, it’s easy to forget all the little things we do differently.  There are so many big differences that sometimes these little differences don’t seem important.  But, then a day like this comes along right after a weekend of tears and frustration.  And I realize I have to make choices on my children’s behalf all the time.  Sometimes it’s minor, like keeping them home from school on a bitterly cold day.  Other times it’s a much bigger decision.  But all I can do is the best I can for my kids…and take the consequences as they come.  Whether it involves monitoring medication and side effects or helping Willy catch up with his classmates because he missed a day of school, this is my life.  As hard as it is sometimes, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.