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Dealing with Extra Anxiety as You Send a Student to College This FallMarybeth Bock, MPH
Yesterday my youngest son checked the snow day calculator (yes, there really is such a thing) and was delighted to report that there was a high probability that there would be a snow day today. Sure enough, school was canceled and we are stuck inside as the wind and snow swirl outside.
Despite the fact that he’s only had two days of school this week (following a 10-day winter break), my son was anxious to have the day off. In another words, he was behaving like almost every kid I know. My middle son is still home from college on his winter break and my youngest was hoping to have some extra time with his big brother, to play video games and hang out.
I really don’t mind having a snow day. In fact, although I didn’t tell him this, I was hoping for one myself. I realize that my snow days with my children home are numbered. My oldest son lives and works in the city; my middle son will be graduating from college this year and will also be moving into the city. My youngest son is a high school junior which means in the not too distant future I will have no one home checking snow day calculators or sleeping with a spoon under their pillow and wearing their pajamas inside out to up the odds that they will get to stay home.
Having a snow day while my college student is still on break feels like a bonus, not a punishment.
I admit that when my boys were little I dreaded snow days. Getting them into their snow gear so that they could play outside seemed at times like a herculean task. We were always hunting for the right size boots and snow pants. I recall dragging them down the block on a plastic sled, and teaching them how to shovel and the best way to make a snowman. As they got older I sent them out to play without me — I am just not a winter person. When they came back inside there were wet puddles to be mopped and lunch and hot cocoa to be made. I often felt as if I was feeding them all day. (People who wonder why stores are so crowded before snow storms have never been trapped in the house with three sons; not having enough snacks was a rookie mistake I wasn’t going to let happen to me.)
Sometimes they returned from playing outside with extra kids from the neighborhood, making the house extra full and loud. By the end of the day I was exhausted from the chaos and fighting which inevitably occurred and couldn’t wait to shoo them out of the house to school the next day so I could get back to my routine.
But being trapped in the house with older kids is not the same. It’s actually really nice. They no longer fight and are good company. I doubt they are going to even want to go outside! Perhaps we will light a fire later and watch a movie. Having a snow day while my college student is still on break feels like a bonus, not a punishment. I am grateful he is home and I don’t have to worry about him digging out his car at school or driving on icy roads. I was happy to go to the store yesterday and stock up on my sons' favorite snacks and food. I even bought an extra bag of marshmallows, just in case.
When my last son leaves for college I will be alone on snow days. I will be able to read and write all day or clean out my closet if I get really bored. It’s going to be strange and very quiet. I may not miss the era of wet puddles and chaos but I will certainly miss these older children who are nice to have around.
The day when I am alone when it snows is rapidly approaching. However, I am grateful today is not that day. I think I will go see if anyone wants hot cocoa.