The Two Faces of Snow Days

Photo courtesy of Phillip A. Lombardi

Looking out at the backyard, a broad grin forms. Both peaceful and excited, I call my daughter, “Renée, look out the window.” The first, large flakes — of hopefully many more — float down to Earth.

For me, a snow day opens a secret door: providing the excuse, motivation, and all the props for a joyful return to childhood. I’m a software developer and work from my home. My daughter and I are on the same side: if there’s a snow day, we can both sleep late. Then we’ll go out and play until we’re so cold it hurts.

Sledding becomes thrilling when roads ice over and the traffic dies away. Kids take over the streets and find the highest hills; they mock the caution signs and proudly proclaim, “No, this time it’s Fast Children Playing.”

Since some of the wintry mix will probably melt down our necks, the snowball fight is saved for last. Older children can’t resist applying a handful of fluffy snow to a friend’s face. I wrap up with a tutorial on slush balls. Soon we’re soaking wet, still smiling, but with teeth chattering.

Back at the house, a can of steel cut Irish oatmeal is reserved for these special winter occasions. If we’re lucky, there are still leftover pecans or figs from holiday baking.

It’s been a memorable morning, but I need to get to work. After a few productive hours, there are restive rumblings from my daughter’s room, followed by measured stomps down the stairs.

“I’m bored.”

This is more than a statement of fact — it is a guaranteed 100 percent accurate prediction of the future. What she really means is, “Entertain me, I need lots of attention.” I never would have complained to my parents that I had nothing to do. Entertaining myself was my best-case scenario.

Sacrificing half an hour, I insist she join me in a game of chess. I give the impression I’m trying my best to help her out. She’ll soon realize I’m not worth the trouble (I am, after all, her father) and seek her fun elsewhere. Sure enough, after she wins the first game, she turns down a rematch, “No, thanks. I think I’ll read.”

That night, my wife and I watch a rerun of a favorite medical drama. My cell phone interrupts with the unwelcome notification of another snow day.

In the morning, I start work early to offset our mini-vacation. Outside, the view is bleak: melting snow and icy roads with asphalt peeking through. Another day at close quarters, but without yesterday’s options.

Pouring coffee, I ponder last night’s patient in a medically induced coma. That’s it — I can postpone the inevitable, saving both patient and doctor from their pain. I suggest to my wife, “I think Renée deserves to sleep in.” She smiles and nods in agreement.

Phillip A. Lombardi writes about his misadventures as a veteran parent of teens. On social media:, @PhillipALombard, and

Categories: Dads, Guest Bloggers, Home, Relationships