Saying goodbye to childhood: a possible final snow day

By Justin Surgent

Justin Surgent/Daily Collegian
Justin Surgent/Daily Collegian

Although waking up has always been a momentous task for me, the minute word was out of a school cancellation when I was a child, I would be up and wide awake, ecstatic and bouncing around the house. I’d run past my brother to the windows, gazing at the falling snow, feeling the cold glass against my face as I pressed it against the window pane and plotted the day’s adventures in my newly fallen winter wonderland. Outside my father would be snow blowing the driveway to get to work, and he’d occasionally shoot snow at the window. I’d jump and smile all the same and pound on the window for more. On weekends when I was young we would pack up the car, loading in pounds of winter clothing and an old green sled and head to the hills down the street. We would come home after, brushing snow off our shoulders and be greeted by our big golden retriever, jealous he wasn’t included in the snow-bound fun. In my memories, our fireplace is always on in the corner, the television declaring news of the storm in the background and the entire scene has a nostalgic glow to it.

I think that’s how a lot of people remember snow days as children. Even as I grew older, it remained just that; a sense of sheer frozen bliss. What originally began as a day in the snow to sled became a day to read, or as I entered high school, to play video games and sleep. As I worked my way through college, snow days became a day to catch up on writing, movies or a little extra homework I should have completed the night before. Yet they still offered that same sense of bliss I had when I was in 4th grade and didn’t want to go into Mrs. Gilbert’s class at Cashman Elementary and sit next to the kid who picked his nose and ate it.

As I spent the day off a few weeks ago, I realized that it may well be my final academic snow day. I’m a senior in college, and I don’t plan on attending grad school anytime soon. Regardless, I feel missing a day of school when I would be in pursuit of a master’s would be more of a nuisance than a blessing, especially when I think about the money involved. The blissful reward, though now dulled with the sense of adulthood I feel overwhelming my inner child, was still present, though subdued, and temptations of ways to waste the day ran through my head. But as they did, the realization that this may be the last overwhelmed them.

I’m not sure when I began to grow up, but it wasn’t all as gradual as I thought it would be. I felt like a child until close to 20, when out of ashes of a heartbreak things in my life began to change for me. The idea of being an adult began to finally make sense, and I realized that there was a lot more to this world than what I wanted and who I was. I learned respect and earned respect, and began to see through the faults of those around me. My father always told me those were the first steps to growing up, and I know I’ve taken them, or at least, have begun to in the recent years of my life. That, and my beard is coming in thicker.

I also often wonder if I’ll know when I’m officially “grown up,” as if some life-studies program will give me a diploma that says “congratulations on becoming an adult” and a firm handshake before taking away the little child-like innocence I have left. In place I’d be handed a tie and a mortgage and told that I need to start putting money into my 401k. My back would begin to hurt and my stomach would grow rounder. Regardless, I’ve noticed times in my life that marked the progress into adulthood, and my final snow day was definitely one of them.

My days of sledding are done, and even video games offer little interest for me when the snow has cancelled my academic responsibilities. At this point in senior year, work is minimal and I have little to catch up on with a free day because I’ve learned how to schedule correctly. Even the usual college suspects of drinking beers and watching movies all day no longer interest me, and honestly, I may rather be in class.

Maybe that’s part of growing up, not only knowing you have responsibilities, but learning to like them too, though it could just be that I like what I do. And maybe another part of growing up is this driving force I feel to get these things done, regardless of a few inches, or two feet, of snow.

Before I know it, I may be the man outside snow blowing the driveway, no longer looking forward to snow as a way to avoid responsibilities, but seeing it as yet another to add to my list. I just hope I’ll always have enough inner-child to remember to shoot some snow at the window to make the little guy inside’s morning a perfect beginning to a childhood snow day. Maybe I’d even forget about the mortgage and 401k long enough to take him sledding.

Justin Surgent is a Collegian contributor and can be reached at [email protected].