Curing cabin fever for kids PDF Print E-mail
Written by KAREN NADLER COTA Sentinel Lifestyles Editor   
Wednesday, 08 January 2014 10:09
Gerwin borthers Ryan, 8, (from left) Matthew, 10, and Aaron, 4, are seen at their home in Bowling Green. (Photos: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Wood County is well-populated with young families.
As of today, most of those families are parented by increasingly frantic moms and dads caught trying to entertain snow-bound children who were already on the threshold of boredom days ago. After all, this biggest of snowstorms in two decades, complete with unprecedented subpolar temperatures, struck right on the tail-end of what was, for most, a two-week holiday break.
Children in many area school districts haven't seen their classrooms since Dec. 20.
Pity Sarah Gerwin, a Bowling Green mother of three boys, ages 10, 8 and 4.
"In trying to prove (to the boys) that it's not safe to be out in the snow," she has resorted to a string of increasingly creative winter science experiments.
"We froze T-shirts last night."
Gerwin took T-shirts her sons had dampened with water, hung them outside and, sure enough, they froze solid - "in approximately one minute, 18 seconds."
Which is a good thing because "I couldn't stand to be out for two minutes in this cold."
By late morning Tuesday the lesson of Monday night had been forgotten and the boys were again begging to go out into the minus-35 wind chill temperatures.
"To prove a point, I took boiling water and threw it up in the air. It basically evaporates" on contact with the air "and looks like snow coming down."
Very impressive.
Unfortunately, 4-year-old Aaron still didn't understand why mom could set foot outside and he couldn't.
"I'm from the UK (United Kingdom) originally, and I don't think my family and friends over there can actually grasp 40-degrees-below, so we were actually videotaping the experiments and sending them by Facebook. I think they have a better understanding now."
So, if playing in the yard is out of the question, just how have Aaron and his brothers Matthew and Ryan been passing the time?
Sarah Gerwin, of Bowling Green, shows a shirt she soaked in water and hung to freeze. The shirt took less than a couple minutes to freeze in the sub-zero temps Tuesday afternoon.
Gerwin said there have been lots of games of Mind Quest, plus "we have Kindles, and a great book we got at Christmas that shows you all these ways to use your extra Legos pieces."
Her husband Scott works at the University of Toledo Medical Center and wasn't able to get home at all Monday night, so Gerwin has had solo parent duty.
"I'm about ready for a drink," she admitted.
Over at Steve and Terri Bateson's home, there are three more boys looking for ways to pass the hours.
But in their case, both parents are at home.
"Normally, he's very rarely home, so that's been an adjustment in itself," Terri said of her husband, a sales representative who spends a lot of time on the road.
"He's getting to see a little bit of what I deal with."
Before the temperatures plummeted, the snow was actually a bonus for the Bateson boys, ages 12, 8, and almost 5.
"They made a fort, they made a snow tunnel. They helped their dad shovel the driveway. But once the bitterness set in, that's when the chaos started."
"There's lots of wrestling going on, they did a puzzle. We're playing Go Fish right now."
Terri Bateson estimated "their attention span is 15 minutes, tops."
That's also how long the boys can go before looking for something to eat.
It's especially challenging keeping the kids happy together when they are such different ages, Bateson noted.
"I had them make their own lunch today." The boys decided on mac-and-cheese.
Then she put on her no-nonsense hat.
"I made them clean their own bathroom."
Like Gerwin, Bateson has also channeled her inner scientist.
"A couple of people posted the recipe for snow ice cream on Facebook, so we did that."
Another experiment involved blowing bubbles outside and seeing them instantly crystallize.
"It takes just a few seconds. The only problem was, in Tuesday's high wind "they were kind of blowing away before we could really see them."
Grandparents can help pick up the slack, as in the Bateson family.
"For Christmas their grandparents got them an old-school Atari game," with its funny primitive graphics from the Bateson parents' era. It proved surprisingly entertaining.
Still, everyone agrees, they're on borrowed time and the great thaw can't come soon enough.

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