A YOUNG mother of our acquaintance has had a recurring dream this winter in which she is able to recapture the feeling that she has some control over her life. In the dream, she has been appointed to the new School Notices on Weather (SNOW) committee, which decides whether to close the schools because of snow, to open them one hour late for slush or two hours late because of the rumors of flurries in Poolesville.
Membership on the committee is limited to parents of children under the age of 10. Mothers must either be employed outside the home or caring for pre-school children at home, and thus likely candidates for the unsolicited honor of being "neighborhood snow day mother." Employed mothers must be working jobs where they are paid by the hour and, in the last six months, must have received at least two threats of dismissal for tardiness due to inclement weather. Fathers are allowed to serve on the committee only if their wives are employed while they work at home at an occupation requiring a high degree of mental concentration and a least six solid hours of quiet each day.
The SNOW committee has adopted certain ground rules and adheres to them rigidly:
1.Blizzards, national emergencies and closing the federal government are grounds for closing the schools.
2.In the event of lesser catastrophes, the committee shall have complete discretion.
3.No closings are allowed for rain, slush or heavy traffic, and no closings are permitted if the temperature is over 40 degrees.
4.The deadline for changing the rules is 7:30 a.m. A decision to open late cannot be changed to a decision to close entirely after that time.
5.Children are encouraged to believe that bad weather is an occasional fact of life with which they will have to cope, eventually. Statements such as "There's a stiff breeze and an overcast sky so I don't have to get out of bed" are strongly discouraged.
6.School officials in the District of Columbia shall serve as advisers to the committee on how to keep the school system functioning when the weather isn't perfect. Doubting school administrators in other jurisdictions may apply for all-expense trips to Buffalo, Fargo and International Falls to see how it's done.
This dream sustains our friend as she calls in late, curses Gordon Barnes and searches for missing mittens. The fantasy helps her deal with the anxiety that begins with the 11 o'clock news every night and intensifies when the first flake hits the ground. It keeps her mind off vexing uncertainties --one hour late, two hours late, early dismissal, closed--which lead to insomnia and a nervous stomach. "Dream on," we tell her. "Hang on. Breakfast chaos and cabin fever will pass. Morning kindergarten and bus transportation will return. Help is on the way."