It was mid-afternoon when the snow started falling.
I’d listened to the forecast on and off throughout my work-from-home day, mentally calculating the precise time I would shut down the computer and pick up the Girl to avoid the worst of the storm. Shortly after two o’clock, part way through watching the dullest webinar in the History of the World, I was seized by a terrifying thought: THE BOY DOES NOT HAVE HIS SNOW PANTS.
To be clear, the Boy had not worn snow pants to school in over a year. Not wearing snow pants was part of the new global order since his transition to middle school last September. Yet, as I watched the snow begin to drift and heard the wind begin its purposeful howl, I quickly decided that the snow pant problem needed to be rectified. I closed my laptop and raced to the front closet.
I bundled up in as many layers as I could find, mentally calculating my odds of making it to the school before the dismissal bell. I stepped out into the bracing cold to begin the twenty-minutes-in-good-weather trek, snow pants in hand. By the time I reached the end of my street, the wind had picked up significantly, and my glasses had tiny ice chips forming on the inside of my lenses. I forged on, steadily crunching through the now accumulating snow.
Turning the final corner, the school finally in sight, I stopped to wipe down my glasses. I watched in silence as a handful of spindly boys made their way out of the front doors and jostled each other down the icy steps. I felt a sudden twinge of unease upon observing that not one of the boys was wearing snow pants.
A few more kids spilled out from side door, coats open, boots unlaced. Not a single pair of snow pants in sight. I felt a slow dread start to assemble in my gut, and the full horror of what I was about to do began to take shape silently in my head. I was fifteen yards away from walking into my eleven year old’s school to BRING HIM HIS SNOW PANTS.
I stood frozen, carefully weighing my options. After toying briefly with burying myself head-deep in the snow, I opted to take my chances, figuring I could beg forgiveness later. After a few excruciatingly cold minutes, I saw his blue and orange toque appear at the side door. I had already braced myself for the awkward greeting, and was completely prepared to lie through my teeth about “being on my way home” and how I just happened to have his snow pants in my hand. (Wot? I’m a mom. Stranger things have happened). I stood stiffly as he made his way down the steps, and through the falling snow, I could see his expression shift gently as we made eye contact.
He approached slowly, swinging his backpack gently behind him.
“S’up mom,” he said softly.
“Hi hon. I.. um, well…I just thought you might want these,” I said.
The snow pants dangled pitifully at my side, looking like milk-drenched mini-wheats. I stared down at the snow, blinking back what I was sure would be half frozen tears. He stared for a moment, waving casually to two red haired boys as they scurried past us on the sidewalk. By now my dull dread was a full blown stomach ache, and I was desperate to find a way to salvage the remains of what I was sure was now officially the Worst Day of his Life.
I started to stammer out an apology, but he gently interrupted me. “Thanks, mum. I think I’m good without them, but it’s pretty cool you came.”
We walked home together through the quiet, drifting snow.
Sometimes, it’s our kids who take the best care of us.