138. When It’s Cold Outside

We’re so lucky to be adults. We get to decide whether to travel, move to a new home, splurge. It was worth the eighteen (?) year wait. But sometimes we abuse the privilege, the way high school seniors lord it over the underclasses: “We’ve been here longer, so we get to make the rules. And we get to break them. We have the power!”
When cold weather sets in, many of us don’t particularly like it. As I’m writing this, it’s snowing outside my window. And it’s cold out there. I’m not only an adult; I’m retired! If I decide to go to the Fort River School and work with the children there today, it’s because I like doing that even more than I hate cold weather. When it’s cold outside, recess becomes a bigger issue. The teachers who have recess duty are often the ones to decide whether the recess will be outdoors. This may seem like a small decision, but only if you haven’t been in the situation. The other teachers – the ones who will get to sit in the teachers’ room and have hot drinks while their comrades are out braving the elements – hope the children will go outside. We sometimes tell ourselves that the fresh air will do the children good, but who do we think we’re fooling? Having been there, I know why teachers hope children will go outside. And I know the grateful feeling the off-duty teachers feel when the on-duty teachers decide to take the children outside. Cabin fever, the tendency to act a little crazy when you’re cooped up inside, is part of the reason. Teachers (even teachers who love children) and parents (ditto) can begin to notice themselves losing patience when children show symptoms of cabin fever. And so if it’s not cold enough to be a real threat to children’s health, out they go. Another reason is the nature of indoor recess. If recess is outdoors, the classroom can be left intact. Papers can stay right where they are, and children can resume their work when they get their layers of winter clothing off. Science experiments are left alone. If children have troubles with each other, the on-duty teachers deal with it. I fully understand why teachers want, maybe need those minutes of time when children are outside dealing with winter and teachers aren’t. And there are even children who want to be out there. I don’t understand why, but I know there are such children. But there are many
children who feel the way many of us feel about cold weather, and those who think about it realize that it’s unfair. I’m not proposing a solution. This is not a staff meeting or PTO meeting; it’s an article I’ve written. I’m just reminding you, in case you’ve forgotten, or informing you, if you never knew, that it is a problem.

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