Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Cold Hands, Warm Heart

We've been in the midst of a little cold snap this week here in the mitten state.  Yesterday it was so cold we had indoor recess but today, luckily, the temperature (with wind chill factored in) crept up to a toasty 11 degrees so the kids could bundle up and head outside to play.   Snowflakes circled around, turning the playground into a wintry wonderland.  Spectacular to watch from inside, as far as I'm concerned.   

But, they are kids, so when outdoor recess was announced, they cheered and clapped and looked out the window, anxious to get outside and have some fun.  I stood in the hallway before recess and watched the little ones shimmy into their snow pants and squeeze their feet into their winter boats.  I watched as they tried to zip their coat with their mittens on.   Trust me, that one never gets old.  And yes, there's always one who decides he/she has to go to the bathroom after they are completely dressed and zipped.

I stood at the end of the coat racks and stretched my arms out blocking their way. 

"Nobody can pass go without a hat, gloves, zipped coat, snow pants, and anything else you brought from home on," I announced as I surveyed the empty coat hooks and the hallway now covered with bags, shoes, and other miscellaneous clothing.

"It's C-O-L-D outside today!" I stated and some of them nodded their heads.  We had checked out during lunch and they all understood how chilly it would be outside today as we discussed temperature and wind chill.  If you live in Michigan, wind chill is important information in the winter.

At this, the bell rang and most of them began waddling towards me, swishing in their nylon pants barely recognizable in their bundled up outfits. They were so excited to get out into the snow.   I smiled down the hallway as the last of them stomped around the corner, and headed back into my warm classroom to grade the mound of papers I had been accumulating.

But first, I watched out the window as the kids slid, screamed, laughed and played in the falling snow, seemingly oblivious to the frigid air. They rolled around on the ground, picked up snow, and twirled in circles.   Just try not to smile when you watch a kid playing in the snow or sticking their tongue out to taste the falling flakes. It's impossible.

Soon enough, they were back inside, bringing with them an enormous mess of wet clothes, melting snow, and boots, tangled together in the hallway and spilling into the classroom.  I walked around them, helping pick up and hang up.  Picture twenty-four pairs of boots and coats along a fifteen foot wall space.   Their bright red cheeks and sparkling eyes told the story of recess.  Cold. Fun. Snow.   Worth every chilly minute.

No less than seven students came up to me and asked me to feel their cheeks or hands.  One even asked me to feel how cold his feet were.  (I declined).   One little darling stepped up to me and held out both her tiny hands, now bright pink from the cold.  

"Feel how cold my hands are," she demanded.  As if I've never felt cold hands before. Sheesh.  

I reached out both of my hands to clasp hers together inside of mine and gently rubbed them together.  When the others saw this, a line instantly began to form.  Apparently, just like in the classroom, if you wait in line for me, I will help you with anything.

"My! They are cold!  Did you have mittens on?" I asked her, as I shooed the others towards the classroom.

"Um-huh," she replied inching closer to me.  "But it's 10 degrees outside.  Even mittens won't keep your hands warm today."  

She had a point.  Tonight temperatures are dropping to single digits - below 0 with wind chill.  Now that's cold. 

Although the kids love going outside, even on the coldest of day, hats off to the women in my school who head outside on these bitterly cold days for recess duty.   

Just promise me in this weather, you'll keep your hat on. Or you can't pass go.

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