Mom, Dad weary, too Children 'getting mad' at snow -- they prefer school

March 03, 1994|By Sandy Banisky | Sandy Banisky,Sun Staff Writer Sun staff writers Ed Brandt and Dennis O'Brien contributed to this article.

Again, the snow came. Again, the children stayed home. And again, the parents -- whether working outside or at home -- turned their eyes to the gray heavens and beseeched spring to hurry.

"Do you want some children?" Susie Black, at home in Timonium with three youngsters, asked a caller.

"Losing my mind," said Kathy Madairy, whose two children were home from school in Cockeysville again yesterday.

"You listen to the weather and you think, 'Don't snow. Please don't snow,' " said JoAnn Hutchens, a Columbia art teacher who had yesterday off -- again -- with her children.

This winter has made school merely an on-again, off-again business. School closings are no longer a novelty, and some day-care centers have shut down as well. Mothers and fathers at home with their children are puzzling over ways to keep them entertained.

Mothers and fathers who have to get to the office are frantically trying to find someone to watch the children. They've come to dread morning radio. They view television meteorologists as the enemy. They scan the skies and tremble.

At the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore, Bernie Esposito, a professor of computer information systems, has been coping with the unsettled schedules of three teen-agers and a 4-year-old while trying to commute from Columbia to her office in Baltimore. "I'm up at 6 to see if there's school," she said.

Yesterday, 4-year-old Geoffrey Esposito stayed home in the care of his siblings. His mother got to the college early. She had an exam to give her students.

And while Ms. Esposito was coping with snow and children and exams, her husband was off in Florida, where he's spent the last month on a consulting job.

"He complained bitterly about the assignment," Ms. Esposito said. "But then he got down there and they're having a heat wave and he had to turn on the air conditioner.

"I called him this morning at 6:30 and told him to get up. I'm sorry, but I was so unhappy with this weather."

Some parents who stayed home improvised projects around the house.

In Columbia, Ms. Hutchens was out in the yard building snow sculptures with her 5-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter. "We're tired of it," Ms. Hutchens said. "It was nice to be home for a while. But now, let's move on."

Ms. Madairy, in Cockeysville, was home with her 2-year-old daughter and a son in preschool. "The worst has been all the cooking -- we go through a lot of food -- and the wet clothes," she said.

Other parents, unable to find yet another sitter, loaded up the children and took them to the office.

Jeanne McKeldin, a legislative aide for the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, watched from her desk yesterday as her two children, Ian, 7, and Kerry, 10, played games on a sleeping bag spread out at the chamber's Annapolis quarters.

It was the ninth snow day for Anne Arundel County schools.

At day care centers, the parents rely on the staff reporting to work.

"They call me the day before, once they start hearing the weather," said Laverne Conway, administrative director of the Midtown Children's Center in Baltimore. "They call me saying, 'Please try not to close.' I tell them, 'We will try. We will try.' "

And for parents whose day care center closes and whose baby sitters are stranded and whose office won't tolerate children, there's one last resort: a personnel agency.

Elizabeth Weglein, administrator of the Elizabeth Cooney Personnel Agency at Cross Keys, said they've been getting a higher than usual number of calls for baby sitters. "We've heard all the stories: The grandmother's not available. The sitter won't come out in the snow. The whole support system is gone."

So far, Ms. Weglein said, the agency has been able to fill all the requests -- sending "mature adults." But it costs. "It's not minimum wage," she said.

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