What this meant was that as soon as breakfast was over our children started obsessing about the Snow Day Box.
The Snow Day Box was an item my mother brought on her last visit along with the admonition to her grandchildren that it was only to be opened on a snow day. This gave an otherwise ordinary brown cardboard box instant mystique, a magical luster that was reflected in our children's eyes as they asked increasingly fevered questions like "When are we going to open the Snow Day Box?" and "Where have you been hiding the Snow Day Box?" and "YOU DIDN'T LOSE IT, DID YOU?"
I hadn't lost it, but I also wasn't going to open this box until each child had completed their list of chores on that snow day, a proclamation which was met with astonished dismay, as though they didn't have chores every single other day of their lives. I never worry about our progeny being mentally slow so much as when I hand them the full compost bowl or gesture to a dishwasher full of clean dishes and their reaction is one of hurt and surprise. "Hang on, you want me to take out the trash?" WHO COULD HAVE SEEN THIS COMING?
Thankfully, the Snow Day Box spurred them toward quick chore completion, with very little motherly harassment needed on my part.
Then the speculation began.
The boys guessed that the box contained train parts, because playing trains with Grandma is always such an education.
"Oh, no, the bridge collapsed! KDOT says that'll be 3.2 million dollars."
"Unfortunately Sam Brownback will never pay to have that bridge fixed. We'll have to find another way around."
"Now, Atticus, it's very nice that you want to send the hurt cow to the hospital, but what you should have done is send him to the butcher so we could all have a nice steak." *
*Actual statements I heard my mom say while playing with our sons.
Anyway, with a grandma who plays like that, nobody really knew what to expect from the Snow Day Box.
They still weren't sure once it was opened: Empty band-aid and cocoa powder boxes, pens, play money?
I had to explain to them that they had the makings of their very own store.
Ten minutes later Atticus was charging fifty bucks for a box of cupcake mix and trying to up-sell pads of post-its. Our middle child appears to have the heart of a capitalist.
All three played quietly, more or less by themselves, for 45 full minutes, before Adelaide tired of the boys asking for ten bucks for a box of oatmeal but giving 100 dollars in change. The boys were less worried about pesky little things like dollar amounts and more interested in handing the green pieces of paper back and forth as often as possible.
At the retailers' request, I took a few turns as The Customer. I bought a box of latex-free band-aids for $20 and a box of BZK towelettes for $1. (This sounds like a spin on one of those jokes: "If you send your grandchildren empty boxes of Benzalkonium Chloride Antiseptic towelettes and surgical masks- you might be a school nurse.")
I received excellent service on each of my visits, although I've never been to a store where the employees hid behind the counter stage-whispering, "Ring the bell! RING IT!" then popping up like smiling jack-in-the-boxes at the sound of the merry ding! I bet their secret shopper scores are awesome.
I packed the box and its contents away at the end of the day, to be pulled out the next time they have an unexpected day off from school. I've never heard so many prayers for mass amounts of snow before.