Sunday, September 23, 2012

African Snow Day

Every child hopes and prays for a "snow-day", when school is cancelled because of bad weather.  Growing up in California, we were never lucky enough to have school cancelled for snow, but it was occasionally postponed for fog!  The fog can get so dense in the San Joaquin valley that it is impossible to drive (at least safely).  I remember hearing about a a pile-up in 2007 involving 108 passenger vehicles and 19 big rigs.  For fog like that, school is cancelled.  Every morning at 6am we watched channel 18 hoping  our district would be on the list so we could go back to bed or watch cartoons in our pajamas. 
It seems unfair that just because there is no snow and rarely fog in Africa that the kids should be deprived the excitement of an unscheduled break.  Well, this past Friday we received early morning text messages letting us know that Nigeria does have it's own equivalent to a "Snow Day".  It's called "Heightened Security Restriction"!  Yep, a whole day vacation from learning just in case all Hell breaks loose! 
The increased Security wasn't due to a particular threat, but was a precautionary measure. It was in response to the recent protesting and violence aimed at the US Embassies in Northern Africa and the Middle-East.  As you are aware I'm sure, the invasion of the Embassy in Libya has incited other groups to participate in Anti-American Violence and protesting around the world causing us to step up security.  Luckily, the US presence in Nigeria has been exempt from any of this violence,due of course to the good leadership here, both religious and governmental. 
When security is tightened, school is closed, the Embassy maintains only a skeleton crew, and we are confined to our compound.  Unfortunately, I didn't realize I was a prisoner until loaded up the kids in the car to head to a nearby compound to workout.  Normally when I reach the end of the driveway a guard unlocks the gate and lets us through.  This time the guard stood blocking the exit telling me that he could not let me leave. He was visibly uncomfortable since he is usually required to do everything he can to accommodate us.  I thanked him for taking such good care of our family and turned back to the house irritated that I would not be able to exercise and suddenly regretting postponing my grocery shopping. How I wished our fridge was full of fresh fruits and vegetables instead of the dwindling leftover spaghetti from the night before. 

Two guards keeping watch outside the compound with four more inside...They usually spend their days roving the property and helping kids find stray balls.  On Friday they were more like Prison Wardens keeping us confined. 

Well, I conceded that if I was going to spend an undetermined amount of time in prison, I was lucky to have a comfortable cell and some pretty fun inmates! So, the little prisoners and I spent the day swimming, watching cartoons and chasing geckos (there are hundreds of them around...even a little Albino Lizard we named Liz). We basically did all the the stuff school usually gets in the way of.  Gymnastics and Tae Kwon Do were out of the question, giving us even more time to catch up on some much needed fun. 
Every kid needs a snow-day, a foggy-day schedule, or security   restriction every once in a while.  It adds a little excitement to the mundane.  Unfortunately I can just imagine my kids praying for massive political unrest every time they are faced with a spelling test or running the mile for PE.  Hopefully we will find a better way to get another day off soon.  One without the threat of danger and violence. 

Spending our 'Security-day' at the pool.
Can't do this on a Snow Day!!

The perfect end to a child's Dream-day!!  Banquet chicken nugget TV dinners, priced at only $12.40 each.  We splurge for quality food like pressed chicken parts and artificial cheese!


  1. Love reading all your updates. Your life is definitely unpredictable and exciting to say the least. Glad you are all safe!!!

  2. For the Woodruffs, growing up in Seattle, snow days were the best! And they happened yearly. Think of it, now your kids will grow up with memories of their "Heightened Security Restriction" days just as fond as their parents' memories of snow/fog days! Ahhh, childhood memories!!! By the way - - CRAZY!

  3. Hilarious! It is true I stiiill reminisce about the snow days of Buffalo NY and compare them with the "snow day" we got in Tennessee when they thought it MIGHT's hard to beat a day off from school (in a child's memory) that has both shamoo in a pool and mystery chicken...oh and machine guns! Happy Security Day! (nervous laugh)