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posted: 2/19/2014 1:01 AM

Old-man winter describes this dad to a T

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By Kent McDill

This winter, I turned into that old guy who tells stories about the past.

It sure has been a fun winter, hasn't it? It seems like every day we are dealing with either a heavy snowstorm, or freakishly cold weather. We have not had that "warm day" break in between, when we can recharge our batteries and get rid of the old snow.

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Yesterday in the car I heard a commentator say that this has been the worst winter ever. That's when I turned into an old man.

"Worst winter? Are you kidding me? I remember when it snowed 6 inches every day for three months straight and we loved it."

That's what I tell the kids as they complain about this winter. It seems to me this is what it used to be like every year before global warming kicked in.

I will admit, my kids are soft. They deal with the winter, but they are not enjoying it. They love days off from school, but they don't take advantage of it the way they used to. They are teenagers. There has not been one conversation about going to the sled hill.

I miss everything about when my kids were little, and now I am even missing those trips to the sled hill. There was the dressing, of course, the endless layers of jackets and pants, and then the undressing because someone needed to use the bathroom before we went.

There was the trudge to the hill, as the kids would have to pick up their feet to walk through the snow. And then, the worst part, was the constant worry whether my kids would have their heads lopped off by some older kid barreling down the hill with no regard for his safety or the safety of others.

All of that worry was rewarded when the kids would come off their sleds with big smiles on their faces. Actually, some of the biggest smiles they ever showed were at the snow hill.

I wish the kids were in the mood to enjoy the winter. I'd like to see Dan and Kyle go outside and have a good old fashioned snowball fight. I'd love to see them build a snowman. I would do anything in the world to see Lindsey make a snow angel.

What we are experiencing now is the winter of my youth, as I remember it. I go into old-man mode and tell the kids about how winter was always three months or more of snow and cold and we would celebrate a sunny day.

The kids don't want to hear the stories about the year my family moved into the Chicago area in 1967, or about my walk to work from the train station in 1979 when I was the only person on Lake Avenue in Chicago because snow had shut down the city.

I always wonder about the stories my kids will tell their kids, and I know one of them will be about the first polar vortex we had this winter.

They will be able to say they did not have school for two days because it was just too cold to go out. They will tell the tale of this week's snowfall, which was about 6 inches where we live, and how they had to go to school because the district had already used up all of the snow days for the cold.

And then I go into old-man mode again.

I honestly don't remember ever having a snow day as a kid. I remember listening to WGN in the morning with my mom because we would miss school if the temperature at 7 a.m. was 15 degrees below zero or colder. If it was 14 below, we went. And we stood at the school bus stop waiting for the bus that we knew was going to be late.

Now, Kyle suggests the possibility of a snow day with the first flake. (I also don't remember hating going to school, but that's a story for another day.)

Haley is at the University of Missouri in Columbia, and they had two days of school canceled this week because of the latest snowstorm. Haley, who is not the toughest banana in the bunch, called me and said "These people are such wimps. They do not know how to handle winter."

My kids know how to handle winter. They have forgotten how to enjoy it.

• Kent McDill is a freelance writer. He and his wife, Janice, have four children, Haley, Dan, Lindsey and Kyle.

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