Schools are closed for the third time due to inclement weather. The first snow day was fluffy and fun; sledding, skating, shoveling, hot chocolate. The second snow day was snowblowers, ‘How many bread-like items can we make and bake and I am so bloated I can’t move,’ more skating, sledding, shoveling. The third day, today, is still staring at me from my frosty old windows, my dog’s booties keep falling off and my eleven year old may literally morph into spiderman and crawl the walls of our home; we shall see…
Many of us parents and teachers have been baffled by the call to cancel school. With gratitude I thank my very good meteorologist friend who explained in precise, gentle detail why this happened. As we sit in our homes warm, baking gluten-filled (OR NOT) creations many in our community do not have proper shelter, clothing and transportation to keep them safe.
So many thoughts rolled through my head as I sat thinking last night; down the Rabbit Hole I went.
As a young child most snow days for me were unique to say the least. First I flew out of bed to stare at snow through glass; then I flew into the snow in boots; then I flew onto the snow to make an angel; then I flew back into the house covered head to toe in cold, white fuzz and then my dad said, “Okay Jess, eat breakfast and then let’s go.” Before the plethora of nutty nannies and mediocre lady callers entered our world it was me and my dad. He had to work and I was seven years old so that was that. I brought coloring books, markers, silly putty and an Etch A Sketch in a backpack and away we went. My dad got me settled on his office floor while he went to work on teeth. Being very similar to my eleven year old ( I admit it) quickly did I become bored with my backpack and decided to roam in and out of dental exam rooms; with the stealth of a cat ( or Wile E Coyote) I watched every procedure with awe and horror. Root canals, gum surgery, cavities being filled, dental dams keeping mouths open forever, oral anesthetic (aka shots), drool piles, crowns on and off – I saw all of it.
On the ride home he would say, “I don’t know why you keep doing that, it’s just going to make you worry.”
My dad always called me “Little Miss Worrier.” He would say that author Roger Hargreaves should add me to his list of characters. He spent lots of time talking me off the ledge so to speak, while at the same time let me wander aimlessly into trouble, “It will make you grow hair on your chest,” he would say – his term for toughen me up.
I was a worrier; I still am. I worry about my kids; I worry that I worry too much about them; I worry that they will someday worry and I never want them to worry the way I worried as a kid. Whew, even that small paragraph just made me worry!
Next semester I will introduce to my students to an acronym called ACES – Adverse Childhood Experiences. We are going to explore how childhood trauma affects brain development in babies and young children and how this trauma can also affect our minds and bodies as adults. We will learn how certain positive supports and support systems can not ever erase damage caused by trauma but how positive supports can help revise our history, giving us a chance to recover and rebuild those areas of the brain that were changed or damaged by trauma. I had fantastic positive support; my father, my half siblings, aunts, uncles, friends, teachers and even my dad’s patients who would sometimes pass me, on the sly, candy from their pockets while drool rolled down their chin and I hid in the corner of a dental exam room. They all had my back.
I will continue to worry and yes, my kids will have reason to worry in their life as well. We can not protect our children from the ugly life lessons that are inevitably lurking around corners or what we think are safe, hidden spaces. Will we, their parents, be a catalyst of certain “baggage” that they may carry on their metaphorical airplane? Probaby.
We can also be the steel beams that help keep our children upright; our job is to support them through tears, laughter, illness, success and even worry.
We also need to be for others what so many were for me as well.
It takes community to maintain a human.
Please check these links to local Madison shelters to see how you can support our madison families in need during this potentially dangerous weather.