Thursday, February 26, 2015

Playing By A New Set Of Rules


My parents divorced when I was quite young, like 2 or 3 years old--is it strange that I honestly don't really know when? Anyway, as kids we spent most of the calendar year with my mom and grandparents in Nebraska (or Colorado after my mom remarried), and then each summer we went and stayed with my dad and step mom in Utah.  One of the hardest and most confusing parts of this arrangement, especially as a kid, was the fact that we lived by one set of rules 9 months of the year, and then for the other 3 months we suddenly had a whole new set of rules.  As a mother myself I get that the idea of 'rules' as these finite and fixed things does not always happen. Circumstances often cause shifts--great and small--in the rules and the ways they're applied.  I get that.  That's not what I'm talking about though. I'm talking about one set of expectations (or lack thereof) and then a completely different set of expectations placed upon you in the next household. No one ever sat down and talked this through with us or tried to understand this mental shift we experienced as young children a couple times a year. It was challenging and confusing and frustrating.

Fast forward to the present.  Here we are living in Cincinnati and last week the girls had the entire week of off school for 'snow days.'  Of course Monday was a holiday, but the rest of the week was all due to weather. B and I grew up in Utah and Colorado respectively so we are no strangers to snow.  What has felt very strange to us is how little snow it takes here in Cincinnati to close the schools down.  I don't think we've had more than 5-6 inches (MAX) on any given day, and would estimate closer to 4 inches and yet... school closed.  They also close the schools for excessive cold as the temperatures dropped in the negative degrees Thursday morning.  I told B, I don't mind being back in a colder climate and having snow, what I do mind is school closing every time there are a few inches on the ground.  From our memories snow days happened maybe 1-2 times a year.  Certainly not a whole week.  And there was at least a foot of snow on the ground to justify canceling school.  What adds to the confusion is that snow is a normal thing in Cincinnati.  It's not like Texas or Florida where snow is an anomaly and they are completely unprepared.  They have plows, I've seen them.  It snows here! And yet it seems like the city shuts down with just a few inches. And part of me is feeling really frustrated and confused--Surely they're going to figure this out and realize that this much snow isn't cause for great alarm and school cancellations.  Surely, this won't always be the way they handle a few inches of snow.

But what I'm realizing is that we're the ones that are going to have to change. Our perspective and our sense of normal is going to have to adjust. We're playing by new rules, rules that seem to go against logic but apparently they make sense to everyone else. And while it's much less emotionally taxing and frustrating than my first example, there's a relationship. Once again I feel like a fish out of water and wondering if anyone is open to the idea that the current way of doing things isn't the only way... in fact, maybe there is a better way? But like being a kid again, you realize theres not much you can do but fall in line.


Have you ever had to learn to play by a new set of rules?  How do you morph into these new (and often confusing/frustrating) rules?  Did you find yourself always pushing against the pricks and crying foul to anyone who would listen, or did you relent and give in to your new surroundings? Also, anyone else have the 2 household, 2 sets of rules problem as a kid? Was this issue ever addressed by the adults or did you, as the kid, just have to deal?  Lastly, is there anyone in Cincinnati who feels the same way about the snow and school cancellations here? Is there something we're missing/not understanding? 

13 comments:

  1. It will come across sounding like, "back in my day, I had to walk 5 miles to school and it was uphill both ways..." but I grew up in Minnesota and we had just a couple snow days a year if we were lucky. If we got a day off due to extreme cold, and I'm talking like -30 degrees (no silly windchill factor), it was statewide and declared by the Governor! I agree that Cincinnati, and even UC, pulls the trigger too quickly on snow days as of late, and I don't think this was the case as recently as five years ago. Not sure what Minnesota is doing these days, but maybe it's a national trend?

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    1. Right? I too remember walking to school in mid-calf snow and not only that, but if you were at school you were outside at recess--again with the occasional exception...now there are plenty of days they don't go out for recess.

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  2. I think the big difference now is that schools are worried more about being taken to court if something happens. For example, a child doesn't dress appropriately and gets frost bite while waiting for the school bus = schools fault or at least $$ to fight the legal battle.

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    1. I think you're right. And honestly I CAN understand the cancellations related to low temperatures more than I can understand a few inches of snow...but yeah. In some ways I'm sure it's a smart move, but I'm pretty sure Utah kids still have school with several inches of snowfall, so I don't think it's exactly a national trend.

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  3. I live in NC and schools close at the threat of snow. They don't plow the side roads so it really does add to the delays. Anyhow, I want to comment on the 2 set of rules phenomena. My ex and I divorced when the kids were 1 and 5. I found it strange that they learned to eat different foods at each house. They didn't learn to eat spinach and Brussels sprouts in my house! It made me sadly realize that I didn't know all about their lives as i should have.

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    1. Cathy--yeah...I think there are so many things to think about when you have split household... as an adult I understand intricacies that as a kid I wouldn't pick up on as a kid (i.e., parents of course are often just as lost as kids when navigating new territory). I too think we ate different foods at each house and there was one in particular I couldn't get away with not eating it just because I 'didn't like it!' Ha!

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  4. I live in NC and schools close at the threat of snow. They don't plow the side roads so it really does add to the delays. Anyhow, I want to comment on the 2 set of rules phenomena. My ex and I divorced when the kids were 1 and 5. I found it strange that they learned to eat different foods at each house. They didn't learn to eat spinach and Brussels sprouts in my house! It made me sadly realize that I didn't know all about their lives as i should have.

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  5. I live in Ohio and my daughter is a counselor in Colorado. She finally had her first snow day in years. Actually her daughter's school had school. It's always a subject between Ohio schools closing and the ones in Colorado not. I always tell her that we love our children more here. I think a lot has to do with the rural areas and kids waiting on buses. But in Cincy not sure. I know our grands have been out of school more than they have been in school this year. I was surprised they didn't cancel today. I think the 2 hour delays are worse. Hopefully spring will hurry along soon.

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  6. I live in Alberta, and in the Calgary school district, school closures are not allowed. I think it's considered to be too much a burden for working parents. Doesn't matter if it snowed a meter overnight or is -40*. So the comment above about the legal worries about keeping school open is interesting because it seems like the opposite here.(Though there is not a culture of suing here as there is in the US). I grew up in NYC and we had fewer than 5 snow days during my entire 13.5 years in school there. Closing school for 4" of snow certainly seems ridiculous! Do they have to make up the days at the end of the year? My sister's kids in Iowa have to do that and it seems especially annoying!

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  7. Oh and I should add that the city does not plow neighbourhood streets here. Only larger arteries. That took some getting used to, but I bought winter tires and now I don't mind :) The ice/snow on the streets usually clears up in April and let me tell you, it feels weird to park on ice-free streets. Always an exciting milestone! ;)

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  8. We have insanely frequent delays and closings in the Poconos, PA, too. Cold out? Delyed opening! 3 flakes fall? No school! The bus drivers have told me the diesel fuel in the school buses can't handle the low temps making it questionable if the buses will start again once the engines are shut off. Well figure out a different system, man! These kids never have school, we had a 2 1/2 week Chritmas break, and now they have onw week off now and another the week after Easter Sunday.

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  9. So this comment is kinda late, but Dustin and I were just recently talking about this, not in regards to snow days (but a hear!hear! about snow days), but about social expectations. Our new church congregation just interacts differently and we just haven't figured it out. We invite people over for dinner, they don't show up, we ask questions about their lives, they don't reciprocate. I was getting really discouraged, then I sent out those valentine's card, you know, those simple, cheap, family's doing good cards.... we are now everyone's best friends. One sister wrote me a thank-you card, another mentioned it during her testimony, I got six Facebook friend requests and every single person at church was so excited to get one. Who knew? There are still a million things I don't understand about how these people roll, but it's a start.

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  10. Anonymous7:55 PM

    Just found your blog today! I love finding great new blogs! Middle Tennessean here, weighing in on snow/cold days and the fact that people not from here can't understand why we operate the way we do. So here goes...as for the severe cold, our busses simply don't want to start when it's so cold. They are not equipped with heaters that plug in and keep them warm so they will start. We also don't have proper clothing for such severe cold. Most kids here have a lightweight coat (think fleece north face jacket) and that is it. It's too risky to have children in hoodies waiting for a bus that isn't coming in seven degree temps. As for the roads.....precipitation here often starts as ICE. Ice alone, or ice under snow is impossible to drive on. Our recent ice storm had many northern transplants declaring they had never driven on such dangerous roads. And yes, while we may have plows, we don't have many. My county has THREE. Three for a large county that's a bedroom county for Nashville. There's no way three plows can begin to touch all of the side roads in three cities. Which leads to the next problem that for each main road that may be clear and not warrant school being out, there are ten treacherous side roads. We simply are not equipped to handle extreme cold or snow and ice, and I fully support those making the difficult calls each time it's necessary.

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