Sunday, January 20, 2008

But Can It Reverse Global Warming

Mark Dursin, in today's Courant, informs us of a heretofore unknown ritual secretly shared by children who believe in the powers of pajamas to create a school snow day. From The Secret Power Of Pajamas:
Question: "Do you wear the pajamas inside out, or inside out and backward?"

Answer: "Just inside out. Once I wore them inside out and backward and the big tag kept scratching my neck and chin all night. The next morning, I had school and a rash on my neck."

Question: "Can I do this in, like, May?"

Answer: "Sorry, but you can only do it when they are actually predicting snow."

Question: "While online, I read that some people throw ice cubes in the toilet in the hopes of getting a snow day. What do you think about that?"

Answer: "Well, that's just silly."

But when I asked if the pajamas/spoon combo works, I got several different answers. Some students squealed, "Yes, definitely!" and had anecdotal evidence to prove it. Others admitted, "Only sometimes" — but even those doubters still do it.

And therein, I think, lies the key. Think about it: we live in a world where multimillion-dollar geostationary weather satellites, orbiting 22,000 miles above our heads, can tell us the weather conditions anywhere on the planet.

All that technology should be enough for anyone, but especially for teenagers, who rely on technology for pretty much everything.

Consider, for a moment, your Typical Teen: When her ear isn't occupied by an iPod, she's got a cellphone up to it. And, when she isn't talking to her friends on her cell, she's IM-ing them about the new photos she uploaded to her Facebook page. While online, she may at some point click back over to her U.S. history term paper, which she can research and write without entering a library or opening a book. She is, in short, inextricably bound to technology.

And yet that same girl, when she hears about a potential nor'easter, will push aside all her electronics, grab a decidedly low-tech spoon and embrace the deliciously irrational possibility of magic and wonder. And there's something sweet about that. Don't get me wrong: The idea of an 18-year-old sleeping in inside-out pajamas with a spoon under her pillow is still kooky. But it's also sweet, and refreshingly innocent.

So yes, this winter my students taught me an important lesson — allow for more magic in your life. Next time they're predicting snow, I'm taking my chances with the spoon.

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