No-school days test the patience of parents

On Wednesday morning, after days of snowbound isolation, local governments are sending out a fleet of rescue vehicles for Boston parents — yellow school buses.

The big snowfall was exciting at first. But the fervor died a couple days ago. And by Tuesday, after five days at home with their children, burning through patience and vacation days, many parents were more than ready for the return to school, if only for a few days. On Friday, the board games will come out again with the start of February vacation.

“The first day was fun. The second day was OK. But it’s been downhill ever since,” said Andrea McKenna of West Roxbury, who took her two children to Dave & Buster’s arcade in Braintree Tuesday to burn off some cabin fever. “Occupying them this week was hard enough. I have no idea what we’re going to do with them next week.”


The term “snow day” is magic to a child’s ear, but for parents of school-age children, it is often a logistical nightmare of scrambling for last-minute baby-sitters, spending good cash for drop-in day cares, or simply using up vacation days they would rather save for something else.

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“I’d rather save my days for the summer, but our only choice is for me or my husband to stay home,” said Kristen Lewis of Brockton, who had taken her 5-year-old daughter to the Build-A-Bear Workshop at the South Shore Plaza to get her out of the house, and reward her for being a good sport through the storm. For two days, they had no power, and the temperature in the house was so low they spent huge chunks of time in their minivan trying to stay warm. “I used to make fun of people with minivans,” she said.

Her neighbor, Beverly Souaiden, was ready for her four kids to get back to school, but the person she really needed out of her house was her husband. “He won’t stop pacing,” she said. They own two gas stations, and they’ve both been out of gas since Friday because they can’t get a delivery. “He’s losing his mind.”

David L. Ryan/Globe Staff
A school bus navigated through South Boston streets Tuesday. Students are set to return to classrooms Wednesday.

Jocelyn Aguilar, a preschool teacher on the South Shore, said parents were crushed when she called them on Monday night to say the school would be closed Tuesday. “They were like, ‘Oh. Again?’ ”

She was at Dave & Buster’s, with two children she was baby-sitting for parents who needed to go back to work. “We showed up this morning to get them, and the kids were all energy, and the parents were like, ‘Take. Them. Somewhere.’ ”


Sam Steele, a 9-year-old who Aguilar was watching, said his parents were losing their minds. “I’ve felt the wrath,” he said.

In South Boston, the sledding hill behind the Murphy Rink was a little worn out. What had been gorgeous on Sunday, when sunshine and fresh powder made for a magical white day, got trashed by Monday’s rain, which streaked the white snow black like last night’s mascara. By Tuesday afternoon, the hill was mostly slush and brown grass, but there was still a steady stream of cars double-parking and letting kids loose on the slush.

“It’s gotten insane,” said John Gwynn, who owns a construction company and had to take the day off to stay with his children. “We’ve mostly been going sledding and going stir-crazy.”

Erin Lee opened her minivan door and her four children poured out with sleds. Within a few minutes, one of them was bleeding and back in the car, crying.

“We’re done,” she said. “I usually never drink, but I think I need a drink. We’ve played a lot of board games that haven’t been out of their plastic in five years, and we’re just done.”


Alana Greene, a teacher at the Henderson Inclusion Elementary School in Dorchester, said she was lucky that she didn’t need to worry about child care, but said she had a lot of friends freaking out because they were being forced to use up precious vacation days.

‘Occupying them this week was hard enough. I have no idea what we’re going to do with them next week.’

Still, she had to worry about how to keep her two kids occupied for five days, including a few days when it was almost impossible to move around.

“We did a lot of crafts, baked cookies,” she said before intervening in a sibling dispute. Her son had thrown a snowball at her daughter, bringing tears. “She has Irish step dancing class at 4. I’ve never been so excited. I’m in a really good mood today because I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Billy Baker can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @billy_baker.