Wednesday morning, 5am. Pulled from sleep by a tingling feeling, not unlike childhood Christmas mornings. I slipped out of bed and looked out the window. A glistening white carpet – covering the garden, the slide, the bicycle we forgot to take in. I fell back to sleep, dreaming of magic words – snow day.
And at 7, when I heard the familiar patter of the small boy’s approach, excitement fizzed up inside – the moment of knowing what he doesn’t know, and imagining what it will mean to a kid who’s never seen snow before.
“Do you want to see something cool?” I said, opening the curtains, watching his face, etching it in my mind. And it’s there – I can still see it now. His eyes got wide, his mouth dropped open. “Snow day!” he shrieked and ran in to tell his sisters.
Thinking back, it’s hard to tell which was more exciting – no school, or a garden covered in snow, but either way, the child who normally has to be coaxed into his uniform was fully dressed by five past seven. All three of them were in the garden five minutes after that. The grown-ups got the coffee machine on and made a work-from-home plan that would allow both of us to work without misplacing a child in a blizzard.
And so the suspended reality began – this surreal place we’ve all been inhabiting for the last few days. The bread rush. Eyerolling the bread rush. Realising we didn’t actually have any bread at all, and making a trip to Tesco through the snow on Wednesday afternoon. The cheers from the kids when the school texts came – two more snow days! The constant coverage, the compulsive scrolling, the cancellations, the conversations – about nothing else but weather. Wondering aloud if the shops in town are open and what the streets look like. Hearing all the stories of attempts to work from home. The lucky ones whose offices closed, the less fortunate who tried to work with toddlers on knees, bashing keys. The ones who gave up trying and went down to the green to tramp through snow and build snowmen.
The green was full of parents and kids, braving the cold, skipping out on futile working-from-home attempts; and we wondered if this was maybe the best thing about snow days – the dropping of other things to build with the kids.
On Thursday, as bread memes from WhatsApp filled up my phone, I googled “cakes you can bake without butter” and counted bags of pasta. Working from home continued with mixed success, and the TV earned its babysitting money well. The 4pm curfew approached and my middle child pushed it to the (very) bitter end, staying outdoors in grey-sky flurries to build an igloo.
On Thursday night, the cancellations continued, the red alert was extended, and yet we wondered – will it come? Facebook and Twitter were skeptical, but in a bated-breathy way. This snow-storm is never going to happen (oh please let *something* happen). Peering outside at midnight, at a bright navy-pink sky, it seemed like maybe it would.
On Friday, now truly snowed in, and making our last two slices of toast, I wished I hadn’t eye-rolled quite so hard during the bread-buying frenzy. My WhatsApp memes mocked me as I googled “Cakes you can make with sunflower oil instead of butter.”
The ever-moving story continued to flick and change, and the snow came down harder, as we counted those bags of pasta again, and wondered why we didn’t buy more.
It’s the most curious of times – a true suspended reality. The kids don’t know what day it is, and for the grown-ups there’s an irony – everything is cancelled, we don’t have to be anywhere, there’s no schedule. But we’re on lockdown, working out a new schedule. TV, work, food, snow, repeat.
And now it’s Friday evening, and the work-at-home parents can down tools and stop trying. The blizzard is very blizzardy so the kids have downed tools too. And I’m off to bake something we can eat that isn’t pasta. Stay warm.
The sunshine is gone, but the book is still 99p – we may run out of bread, but thanks to Kindle, we’ll never run out of books!