We didn’t so much walk to school this morning as forge our way against the wind, our bodies alternately pressed flat then bowed out as our feet danced to catch up with the gusts.
I had lain awake most of the night, hearing the too-close tree creak and the rain dash against the window, and dreading the children’s outrage when I said we weren’t driving. They surprised me, though; chasing after laughs as they were whipped from their mouths, holding hands to anchor each other. Heads tucked into woolly hats, coats zipped up to chins and hands snug inside gloves. Or, in the case of the four year old, inside one glove and one mitten.
He doesn’t actually call it (or them, when they were two) a mitten. He says, instead, “vitten”, which each time I hear it sends the same, over-in-a-second flash of thoughts through my mind:
Don’t correct him, it is so cute, and he is my last baby and he’ll get it right soon enough.
Is he getting it somehow confused with “vitamin”, which to him means the fruity tablets I dole out periodically when I worry they’ve not eaten
any enough fresh fruit and vegetables for a few days, and which are a treat akin to Haribo, and have I gone wrong somewhere there in making them seem a treat?
Does he have a problem with his hearing like his big sister?
Out loud, I just smile, and say “yes, your mitten” and get on with trying to leave the house.
The other mitten (vitten) went missing on Thursday. The glove, on Friday. I looked in the lost property cupboard at school, but to no avail, and I refuse to badger the staff, who have potentially fifty two small pieces of hand wear to manage per session. I suspect they fell out of a pocket, or were pulled off impatiently mid game so that little fingers could get on with playing.
Such a dilemma over something so small, though neither pair was expensive.
Do I buy the smart warm gloves that button into the coat and can’t fall out? I can’t really afford them, and the coat he has, handed down from his big brother, doesn’t have the right loops.
Do I sew them onto strings and knot them through the sleeves? I have bitter memories of small arms struggling against spaghetti tangles and wool snapped in temper.
Do I try to teach him the value of things, and demand that he take more care? He is only four, enjoying the last few months of largely unstructured outdoor play before he starts school proper. I don’t want to fetter the imagination that turns the playground into a spaceship and his friends into fellow super heroes. There’s time enough for him to learn the realities of what happens when playtime’s over.
Despite our persuasion, the fundamental wrongness of the mismatched pair could not be overcome and it didn’t make it to school. He insisted on removing both and stowing them in his bag, in the hope that their lost partners would miraculously reappear through the morning.
So he walked, with one small, warm hand wrapped in mine and the other clutched free, knuckles raw against the world.