It came as a surprise, how unimpressed Snooks was with snow.
I suppose it could be that he has now seen snow four times in his short 11 months on earth, an average once every three months. That’s a lot. Maybe he thinks he has landed in Alaska, or better still, Narnia.
He has tasted it, been held out of the back door in it wearing only his pyjamas (the Engineer’s idea of a life experience) and, during this last fall, crawled over to touch it, recoiling and turning his back on the glistening landscape to carry on where he left off unpacking the CDs from the CD shelf.
And why should he like it? It is just weather and I don’t tend to haul him out of his cot and run to the window with him to shout ‘Look, clouds!’
However we want children to like snow because, as the Engineer has oft observed, the good thing about having children is the excuse it provides to relive your own childhood, or at least, your fantastical recollection of it.
So like hundreds of other parents last Monday we headed for the nearest open space, dressed like Uncle Bulgaria, pushing our unwilling offspring into the blizzard for the betterment of his personality.
I felt in part responsible for the snow, in a proud sort of way, as it was my birthday the night the snow fell. The same has happened in previous years and it has started to feel personal. I love snow, I do. So that’s good. But I should just apologise to all those people who went out in their cars, against all advice (Why? Why do people do this?) and got stranded.
Motherhood has added a new dimension to contemplation of the elements, however, which I had not anticipated.
During our summer jaunt to the Med where the Engineer and I used to enjoy reading in the sun and late quiet dinners, I found myself instead in a state of heightened vigilance. Was the sun out, was it pointing this way, was Snooks asleep or unconscious from dehydration?
And so it was, that as we drove the short distance to the restaurant my love had chosen to celebrate the eve of my birthday, the question entered my head, ‘How would I keep Snooks alive if we broke down and could not start the engine and so had no heat for a long time?’
I was not sure how this could happen, particularly on a five minute journey through south London. However, instincts pay no heed to time and geography.
Plus, for the occasion, I was, for once, not dressed as Uncle Bulgaria, but was wearing girly suede birthday shoes, a flimsy organza skirt and a thin velvet coat – not the gear for trudging the frozen wasteland, searching for light and warmth with a shivering babe pressed to one’s breast.
There is no blanket in the car, I cursed to myself. I can’t protect him.
Out of interest I decided to put it to the Engineer, just in case it turned out he had some hunter/gatherer plan for such an eventuality.
“What would I do if we were stranded in the snow and I had no way of keeping Snooks warm?” I said.
“Shoot a caribou and climb inside,” he answered, without a breath.
We were pulling into the car park of the restaurant, so there was little time to ask the many questions this answer raised.
“I don’t even know what a caribou is,” I started.
Fortunately we managed to make the treacherous return journey a few hours later without incident, though it did involve a detour to Sainsburys to buy a missing birthday cake.
“Get a peach crumble,” the Engineer offered, as I stepped out of the warm car onto the store’s slithery tarmac car park in my delicate shoes and thin coat.
I have also never heard of peach crumble and added this to my mental file of ‘Strange Kiwi Ways’ as I hunted down a chocolate cake big enough to hold 44 candles.
By the time we got home Snooks had fallen asleep and the Engineer employed his great talent for removing 18 layers of clothing from a sleeping child and getting him into pyjamas and a cot without waking him up, while I gazed at the drift building up at our back door … and hoped we were stranded.
We could live on chocolate cake for the next few days at least.