Cookies, movies, LEGOS help Rock Hill parents, kids fight cabin fever during snow

jmcfadden@heraldonline.comFebruary 13, 2014 

— They bounced off walls, played with LEGOS and read books. They washed dishes, did laundry and baked cookies. They went sledding, made snow angels and watched movies on Netflix.

In Rock Hill, parents and their children stuck in their homes on Thursday – the third consecutive day of persistent snowfall and sleet brought on by winter storm Pax – worked to find ways to avoid cabin fever. Several local school administrators and teachers used social media to offer suggestions.

“I’m ready for it to be over with, especially with Monday being a holiday,” said Jodie Wallace Chappell, a Rock Hill mother of four. “They’re getting a little crazy,” she said about her kids.

Monday is President’s Day, which means that with the snow days, local students are getting a six-day weekend.

“We’re normally on-the-go with dance and cheerleading and and school. We’re ready for it to go away.”

On Thursday, more snow and ice fell on Rock Hill. Most schools, including York Preparatory Academy where Chappell’s two oldest children attend, announced they would be closed on Friday. That also meant the charter school’s Valentine’s Day dance was canceled, Chappell said.

Chappell had already bought her teenage daughter’s dress. “She was ready for that,” Chappell said.

But on Thursday, the 15-year-old barricaded herself in her bedroom, watching Netflix on her computer. “She only comes out for food,” Chappell said.

Chappell’s 10-year-old son, who celebrated his birthday on Wednesday, busied himself with LEGOS. Her two youngest children, 6 and 4, were ready to explore.

“They want to go outside and play” but “it’s kind of cold out there,” she said. “The trips out there are going to be short and sweet and back in. “

As for Chappell, she worked to keep her smallest children occupied so they would soundly sleep at night. Nighttime for the “tired, tired” mom is rest time, she said.

“Thank God I listened and went to the grocery store” before the snow fell, Chappell said. “I was preparing for two days. I didn’t know it was” going to last through Thursday.

Chappell never considered driving in the wintry mix, not since 1996 when the car she and her husband were in slid on an ice patch and turned upside down. They walked away without injuries, but that was the last day she drove on ice.

“I don’t do that ever,” she said.

There was no driving for the Rev. Dave Kiehn. He and his family were “having a blast” with sledding and snowballs in Swan Meadows, their neighborhood off India Hook Road.

Kiehn, his wife and their three children – two girls, 7 and 2, and one boy, 5 – spent their snowed-in days reading by the fireplace. Their book of choice: C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, the Wtich and the Wardrobe,” the second installment of the “Chronicles of Narnia,” which details a witch casting a spell to create “forever winter.”

“We read the whole book by the fire and watched the whole movie on Amazon Prime,” he said.

His children, he said, “are bouncing off the ground.” To keep them grounded, Kiehn and his family have baked and decorated cookies. They’ve gone out to play in the snow twice a day for no more than an hour. They’ve gathered with other children in their Swan Meadows neighborhood to go sledding. Thursday night, it would be all about board games – “Sorry” and “Candyland” would be among their list, he said.

Kiehn, who pastors at Park Baptist Church, said Wednesday night services at the East Main Street church were canceled. He didn’t want his congregation on the roads.

“Our members are so faithful that if we were having church, they’d be there,” he said.

Zane Surratt, his wife, 8-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter, also worked to remain faithful in spite of the weather. Amid building snowmen and making snow angels, the family met other children in their neighborhood off Celanese Road, asking if they went to church.

“That is what we are called to do,” he said.

While snow days aren’t as long as summer break lulls, children still can lose some of their academic leverage if they’re away from school, said Michael Waiksnis, Sullivan Middle School principal.

“Make sure they get in their daily reading,” he said. “The longer you’re away from school, the more out-of-the-routine you get.”

On Sullivan Middle School’s Facebook page, administrators posted a snow day challenge daring students to tell them in words, photos, drawings or music about the best way to spend a snow day. A “snow day challenge, day number two” was ready to be posted on Facebook in case Rock Hill schools were out on Friday, he said. On Thursday, Rock Hill school officials said classes were indeed cancelled.

“(Kids) get...just like we get,” said Kristina Thompson, a kindergarten teacher at Old Pointe Elementary School. “We get a little upset and want to get frustrated a bit when you can’t get out, move and do things to keep your mind busy.”

Keeping that in mind, Thompson posted several tips and ideas on her blog for parents to keep their young children occupied. They range from reading to creating Valentine cards to setting up their own post office center at home, where they can practice writing and mailing letters. Most of those ideas, she said, came from activities and projects her students were already working on in class.

She advised that parents find simple things to keep their toddlers active and “have them thinking, doing things, being creative.”

“They love to be creative,” she said. “You give them a shoebox and some old junk mail envelopes and letters and they think they're having the most fun ever. They're writing. They're doing things that matter. Those creative juices start flowing; they get so immersed in it that some of that craziness goes away.”

Jonathan McFadden •  803-329-4082

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