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Snow in Georgia, and once again I’m introduced to a neat and weird kid-legend I never heard before.

The prediction was for ice, and unlike Minnesota, which closes schools only for asteroid strikes and plague — and even then only in combination — Atlanta, we’ve been told, shuts down completely for an inch of snow or a hint of ice. Sure enough, the stores were wiped clean of milk and bread yesterday as the threat of “ice pellets” and even snow loomed in the forecast.

Our kids were elated, of course — not only at the prospect of tangible, frolic-worthy winter, but the apparent likelihood that school would be closed today. And they came home with a deal-sealer they’d learned from the Atlantans: to guarantee snow, all the kids must lick a spoon and put it under their respective pillows, flush an ice cube down the toilet, and sleep with their PJs reversed. In case you wondered at the title.

lick the spoon
Child licking wooden spoon
(a highly suspect interpretation
of the Spoon Doctrine)

Around 5 pm it began — first with tiny, intermittent flakes, then with big beauties. Over an inch fell and stuck, plenty enough to give the school bus companies the vapors and close things down. My Minnesota-bred brood was spinning and howling on the deck, open mouths to the sky.

At bedtime, spoons were licked, ice flushed, PJs reversed. The fix was in.

Our alarm went off at 6 to the sound of the news announcer’s voice. The temperature had edged above freezing just long enough to melt the roads. Only three districts were closed, all rural, none of them ours.

I imagine the scene all over Atlanta was much the same as in the bedroom of my girls, and not too different from what I imagine would be the case when a volcano erupts despite the virgin tossed in. Talk turned to recriminations and the search for unorthodoxies. Somebody somewhere didn’t lick the spoon first, or enough, or didn’t put it under the pillow, or put it face up instead of face down, or slept with their PJs heretically oriented. Or maybe she wasn’t a virgin, someone in the village grumbles.

Thirty minutes after the bus took the girls and their grumbling colleagues to school, the boy came downstairs. His PJs. Look at his PJs!

“Con,” I said, soberly.


“You’ve heard, I guess.”

“Yes. It’s robbery.”

“I see your PJs are on right. I won’t even ask about the spoon.”


Anybody reading this in Atlanta, especially anyone with disappointed schoolkids: I’d appreciate it if you kept this between us. He’s a good boy, really he is. Just a bit wrongheaded.


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Dale McGowan is the author of Parenting Beyond Belief, Raising Freethinkers, and Atheism for Dummies. He holds a BA in evolutionary anthropology and a PhD in music.