I’m addicted to snow–Punxatawney Phil better be wrong!

Last winter, I developed an addiction that I’ve spent the past year trying unsuccessfully to fight.

It’s actually a really big problem. It has managed to eclipse my shoe addiction, my shopping addiction, and my Bruce Springsteen addiction. The good news is that it is far cheaper than all of those addictions. But living in the DC area, this addiction is much more frustrating than even my love of the Redskins.

I’m addicted to snow.

No, that’s not a veiled drug reference or a new brand of shoes. I’m talking about actual frozen precipitation that falls from the sky and results in the cancellation of school.

I had forgotten just how addicting snow is. Because DC doesn’t get snow very often. Most winters, our precipitation comes in the form of rain, freezing rain, sleet, ice, hail, locusts, brimstone, frogs, and other general weather phenomenon that remind us that God is angry with us and plans to smite us soon.

Which is how you can tell that God (or whoever it is that controls the weather) is a Democrat. Washington DC only gets real snow storms in years when a Democrat is in office. Like last winter. We had snow in the winter of 1998-1999, in 1996, 1993, and 1979 (which was before my time). When Republicans are in office, the weather just punishes us.

Of course, if you don’t like snow, you could assume that it’s actually the other way around. But as a teacher, who gets paid to NOT go to school when it snows, trust me. I know of what I speak.

But last winter provided us with change that we could believe in. And it was glorious.

Well okay, walking Rosie in snow that was taller than her sucked. Although it was pretty funny when she’d sink all the way into it and just bark for me to come rescue her. But not being in school for those nine snow days was wonderful.

The problem is that last winter ruined me for all other forms of precipitation. And when we have a situation like we did this week, where literally the entire rest of the country gets snow and we get a lukewarm rain, I feel very angry and cheated.

Prior to last year, I never spent much time thinking about snow. Yes, it’d be nice when we got it. But it was in small quantities and only gave us a day or less off of school. If it was in the forecast, everyone shrugged it off. Even if the local weathermen said there was a 100 percent chance of snow, we paid about as much attention to it as we pay to the crazy guy on the corner who tells you that he’s wearing a foil hat because it keeps the government from being able to listen to his thoughts.

This year, that crazy guy seems a lot more plausible.

Which causes some major problems.

For example, if anyone even whispers the word “snow,” everyone immediately stops what they’re doing and checks their weather service of choice. Don’t believe me? Try it. Say the word “snow” in a crowded place. Everyone who hears you will immediately whip out their cell phones, ipads, laptops, divining rods, grandparents with arthritic joints, groundhogs, or any other variety of weather predicting equipment and begin comparing the percent chance of snow and the accumulation expectations from all of the different sources.

And if even one of those warning elements says there will be snow, it causes an immediate panicked riot that makes those Egyptians look like quitters as Washingtonians flock en masse like brain-starved zombies to buy as much milk and toilet paper as they can before any snow can fall.

I’ve never understood this. If weather.com, your grandpa, and your groundhog are predicting a quarter inch of snow, why do you need 970,863 rolls of toilet paper? Like do you think that they’re going to stop making it? Because I feel like toilet paper is going to be around for a long time.

I can almost understand the rush for milk. It seems stupid, because if you live around here, you’re just going to lose power as soon as more than three flurries fall from the sky, but you can, in theory, stick all that excess milk outside in the snow to prevent it from going bad while you spend the next month waiting for Pepco to get their acts together.

But despite the riots and the resulting world-wide shortages of milk and toilet paper, nothing makes me quite as happy as when Sue Palka, Bob Ryan, Doug Hill, a Ouija board, and a groundhog all agree that snow is heading our way.

Unless they say it’s coming on a weekend. In which case I hold the local meteorologists personally responsible for any disruption in my plans.

And unless they all say we’re going to get snow and then they’re all wrong, causing mass hysteria and milk and toilet paper shortages for no reason.

In fact, that may be what’s ACTUALLY going on in Egypt right now. I’m not saying it has nothing to do with the people wanting the freedom of a true democracy. I’m just saying that it doesn’t snow in Egypt all that often. I’d be pretty pissed too if I were living in a country where it didn’t snow and where the government cut off my internet access.

Not because I’d be using it to organize riots—because without internet, I can only rely on my grandpa and the groundhog to predict the weather. And that isn’t enough to accurately analyze the chances of having a snow day.

And trust me, Egypt. Put a Democrat in charge. It’ll snow. I mean, you’re pretty much the only place in the world OTHER than DC with documented evidence that random crap other than snow falls from the sky when God is mad.

And if you have a real democracy, no one will shut off your internet, granting you access to meteorologists around the world.

Everybody wins.

Unless you have Pepco. In which case, your internet won’t do you any good because you won’t have electricity for 97 percent of the year.

But that’s still a fair trade off if it means that you get snow days. Trust me. I’m a teacher.

Tricks to ensure a snow day–Warning: ONLY use these for school days!

The news yesterday was pretty bleak and ominous.

And I’m not even talking about the horrors that happened in Arizona over the weekend.

I’m just talking about the weather forecast. Snow developing sometime today into tonight, with small accumulations of about one to three inches.

In other words, my worst nightmare. Because it’s going to start while I’m at school but not be bad enough to get us out early, and it will probably end too soon to have an impact on school for tomorrow.

But it’ll be just enough to ensure that the kids are COMPLETELY insane.

Because kids, when snow is in the forecast, lose all sense of sanity, reason, and humanity. I usually hide under my desk until the threat of snow is over, but I decided to make this weather forecast into a teachable moment for my students. So today I plan to teach the one lesson that high school kids will be able to focus on and learn from once those flakes start falling from the sky: I’m going to teach them how to make it snow enough to get us out of some school.

Because yes, I know how to control the weather. And I’m going to share my secret with you, as long as you PROMISE to only use the knowledge for good snow that will get us out of school, NOT snow that will ruin weekend plans.

Do you promise?


Some of the tricks, you probably already know. For example, everyone knows that you’re supposed to go to bed with your pajamas on inside out and backwards the night before you want it to snow. If you’re JUST wearing them inside out, it’s not going to work. Inside out AND backwards. And if you don’t normally sleep in pajamas, DO IT ANYWAY. I mean, it’s winter. It’s cold out. Like I told the kid who showed up at school in shorts yesterday, PUT SOME CLOTHES ON. Just do it inside out and backwards when you want snow.

However, JUST wearing your pajamas inside out and backwards isn’t going to get you out of school. Literally. Even if they’re calling for a blizzard, if that’s all you do, you’re going to school tomorrow. On time. And staying for the full day. Trust me.

In order to guarantee a snow day, you have to do ALL of the following things. The order, in general, doesn’t matter. But if you skip a step, you WILL have school.

First of all, you need to do a snow dance. This one is tricky. Because doing the wrong dance moves could, in fact, cause other weather phenomenon and/or your neighbors to videotape you and put your horrendous moves on YouTube. In which case I will laugh at you, and be very angry at you for not doing a proper dance that will ensure a day off.

There are a ton of videos of how to do this incorrectly on YouTube. Here are some of my favorites:

However, the ONLY proper snow dance is the following:

If you’re doing it any other way, you’re doing it wrong and when we have school, it’s YOUR fault.

The next thing you need to do is get as many ice cubes as you can. Take them into the bathroom and flush them, one at a time, down the toilet. I don’t know why this one works, but it does.

Note: I take no responsibility for any damage this does to your toilet and/or pipes.

I don’t make the snow rules. I just tell you how to follow them.

Next, take a spoon and stick it in the freezer for an hour. Then place the frozen spoon on your windowsill and leave it there overnight. You also need to find a white crayon and leave it in your freezer overnight. Failure to follow these steps will result in a full day of school.

However, there’s really only one thing that you MUST do to guarantee a snow day. You’re not going to like this one. But if you ignore this step, I can promise that you will have school, no matter what, every time. DO ALL YOUR HOMEWORK BEFORE BED.

That’s the trickiest step. I don’t know how the snow gods know if you did your homework or not, but they do. And if I have to go to school because YOU didn’t feel like doing your homework, I WILL find out and I will be very, VERY angry with you. Which, considering that I think I killed my next-door neighbor with my mind, is NOT something you want. (We’ll get to that one once I figure out if he’s actually dead or not.)

And if you have a job that isn’t in a school, you still have to do your homework if you want a day off.  Spend at least 20 minutes on math problems and read three chapters in a book to help your teacher friends out!

Now go practice your snow dance. And remember, if it’s not the OFFICIALLY SANCTIONED SNOW DANCE, it’s not going to work and I’ll direct my mental death ray at you next. Because I need a snow day. Right now.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow… unless it doesn’t get me out of school!

Yesterday, as I was going about my job (you know, nothing too exciting, just educating the youth of America), I experienced one of the worst things that can happen to a teacher.

It began to snow.

Now, I personally get more excited about snow than any student could ever understand. Because when the kids get a snow day, they just get a day off from doing their homework. When I get a snow day, I get a PAID day off from doing my homework. Sorry kids, I win this one.

But when the snow starts during the school day, it turns into every teacher’s worst nightmare. Because the second even a single flake falls from the sky, all hints of civilization vanish from the classroom and it descends into complete and utter anarchy. The kind of anarchy that makes Lord of the Flies look like a British etiquette class run by Audrey Hepburn.

It’s pretty scary. Once it starts snowing, I tend to hide under my desk bomb-drill style and pray that I survive until they let us leave for the day. And if the kids find me, I’ve learned that playing dead works pretty well. Just like when you’re attacked by a bear. Lay perfectly still and you might survive.

I also try to avoid ever finding myself in this situation by keeping the blinds of my classroom completely closed when the temperature drops below 40 degrees. Why 40 degrees? Because the DC area’s weather is so screwed up that apparently the freezing point ranges from 4 to 25 degrees and 36 to 40 degrees. Between 26 and 35 degrees, water is still a liquid. It’s one of those paradoxes of the universe that no one can explain. I mean, there was an eight year period when I thought I understood—clearly God was mad at the Bush administration. But I don’t know how to explain the freakish DC area weather now.

So even if there’s no hint of snow in the weather forecast, I’ve learned that it’s better not to take chances. I plan ahead and book as much time in the school computer labs as I can during the winter months because most of them in my school are windowless.

But that doesn’t help much. Kids can sense snow the way dogs sense fear. The way animals sense earthquakes and tsunamis. The way I sense shoe sales. It’s instinctual and unavoidable.

 Although cell phones don’t help. Because as soon as one kid knows it’s snowing, the news spreads faster than the rumor of a celebrity death on Twitter.

Last week for example, it flurried for about an hour. Now, I’m personally of the belief that flurries are the cruelest of all weather phenomenons. I’d take a tornado or typhoon over flurries any day. Because flurries get your hopes up for a snow day, but don’t deliver. And they make everyone and their mother forget how to drive even though the roads aren’t even damp, let alone treacherous.

And when the first of the microscopic snowflakes fell last week, my classroom turned into a scene that would make a European soccer riot look sane. Literally. A kid whipped his shirt off and ran around my classroom at full speed yelling “IT’S SNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWING! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” while waving his shirt over his head.

Granted, that particular situation was my fault. I hadn’t closed the blinds that day.

But once a kid is screaming and waving his shirt like a flag, there’s no real way to regain control of the class that day. Like honestly, what do you do then? Send the kid out, shirtless and screaming? Then the rest of the school will know how ridiculous my class got! Although, to be fair, I’m pretty sure my class wasn’t the worst of the snow-mania. I’m not sure if it’s true or not, but I heard a rumor that some kids literally climbed out of a classroom window to roll in the snow. At least mine stayed in my room that day.

Yesterday was worse, however. Because the weather had predicted that it would snow all day. So every three seconds, a student would run to the window to see if it had started. And short of covering the windows in electrified barbed wire or bringing a cattle prod to school (which I’ve been told is frowned upon… they don’t let teachers have ANY fun), there just isn’t any way to keep this from happening.

It’s actually not that bad when we get out of school early though. I’m not going to lie, I don’t mind getting paid to go home. And even though the kids are more amped up than if they’d chugged six gallons of 5 Hour Energy (which I’m 100 percent positive shouldn’t be legal. I swear I had heart palpitations after drinking half of one. To misquote Shakespeare, an amphetamine by any other name is still an amphetamine), if they know they’re going home, they’re amped up and HAPPY.

But when the message comes down from the powers that be that we’re staying for a full day of school, that excess energy turns to horror movie-esque rage. And it’s not directed at the people who actually make the decision about whether schools stay open or not. Oh no. It’s directed at any authority figure that the kids can find.

Luckily, I’ve developed a solution to keep from being sacrificed to the snow gods when this rage strikes. If I complain before they do and louder than they do about the travesty of staying for the full day, they think I’m one of them.

Which, let’s be honest, I am. At least when it comes to getting out of school early.