Torontonians: The New Snow Wusses

Filed Under (Media, Parenting, school) by Estee on 24-02-2012

This will date me. When I went to school, I used to trudge through deep snow. No, I didn’t walk three miles like my grandmother did, but there was lots of snow and we weren’t afraid of it. During recess, we’d slide down any hill we could find and even forget our snow pants. The teachers didn’t make a fuss if we came back into class soaking wet. After school, I walked back home; back through the deep snow, even blowing snow, beating like needles against my face. There were no nannies to wait for me and walk me back like there are in the city now. Parents didn’t worry about us being out there in the blowing snow. In their minds, it was good for us to outside almost all day long.

Adam has been home from school all week because of the flu. Finally this morning he woke up jumping. “I’m fine!” he declared as I entered his room. I’m so glad. One problem though: Last night, before any snow fell, I received an email from his school that it might close in case of snow. I was worried this would happen; that he’d be raring to go and get back to school and his friends, and not be able to.

When I was growing up, we never got notices like that. There would have to be five feet of snow outside our door and some severe wind for us to turn on the radio to try and hear if the school was closed. Like all children, I’d wait in anticipation to find out, and if it was, I couldn’t wait to get outside and play in it. Now we get an email suggesting the school may be closed if there is snow. The news gets more ratings with impending weather. They scare people like there’s a hurricane coming and we all better prepare. “Snowmageddon,” it’s now called — just a tad alarmist, I think, as I see a single snow flake float by my window.

The street is clear and the snow looks like it is just beginning to fall fairly gently. I’m emailing and calling, trying to get in touch with anyone who might be checking at Adam’s school. “Is the school open today? There is no snow,” I write.

I know, there’s more traffic. When the roads become icy, the roads aren’t fun to drive on. Perhaps calling in the army nearly a decade ago in Toronto after a big snow storm made everyone a little more cautious. But still. It’s just snow, and we seem afraid to let our children out in it.

Children don’t walk to school anymore. They are nannied, day-cared, and car-pooled to school. Let’s face it, we don’t let our children grow up until they’re thirty-five. Granted, I know when we are talking about autistic children, we all know they require more attention for their safety. Autistic adults may also need assistants when they are older. It still doesn’t mean we have to baby them, nor do they want to be babied. I think our over-protective parenting and super-cautiousness have negative effects on all of society. Now back to the snow…

The school is even located near the subway, you know those things that Mayor Rob Ford wants more of. That means we can even travel under the snow! So doesn’t that mean that there is a way to get around after all? They are calling for five, yes five (wow) centimeters of snow in Toronto today. That’s a far cry from the five feet outside our doorway when I was Adam’s age.

I just don’t know what has happened to us. Could it be that this is the first real snow of our Toronto winter that we’ve wimped out? Are we so excited that we have to declare it a city holiday? What happened to us fearless Canadians and the Canadian winter? More importantly, what is all of this doing to our children?

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About Me


I’m a PhD candidate at York University, Critical Disability Studies, with a multi-disciplinary background in the arts as a curator and writer. I am the Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project (, and an enamoured mother of my only son who lives with the autism label. I like to write about our journey, critical issues regarding autism in the area of human rights, law, and social justice, as well as reflexive practices in (auto)ethnographic writing about autism.