23 January, 2013 / General

Dear parent/guardian, due to severe weather conditions school will not open today


There’s a phrase to curdle the blood of any home worker. What should you do? One friend didn’t answer her phone when the school office called to say they were closing early. Reassuring herself that her offspring would be ‘fine’, she got on with her work, trying to blot out the sounds of hoards of kids having fun-filled snowball fights in the streets. Turned out my friend’s children were the only ones left in school, and had sat all doleful in an unheated classroom as the boiler had broken.

When my own children were younger, and the announcement arrived that precisely three flakes of snow had forced the entire county to shut down, we’d usually go sledging. There was no alternative but to ‘go with it’ – it was fun, and I miss those days when my children were not ashamed to be seen whizzing down a snowy hillside with me. If I had a pile of work to get through, I’d sit up and do it when everyone else was asleep – but that’s when I was younger and more sprightly. Although my first novel was written entirely at night, I can no longer cobble together a coherent sentence after 9 pm. I suffered a short-lived bout of insomnia a couple of weeks ago, and spent pretty much all of my daylight hours burning dinners, forgetting appointments and alternating between shouting and crying. So, sleep is kind of necessary these days.

If it was too foul outside for sledging, then I’d resort to the unmentionable and plonk my kids in front of the TV. I know – the very word ‘plonk’ says it all. I should have been drawing, painting, playing interminable games of Monopoly. But sadly, I also needed to earn a living, snow or no snow. Anyway, we scrambled through somehow. It was easier in summer, when school closed for some reason, like a teacher strike – I’d just chuck them in the garden with a packet of biscuits. No lasting harm seems to have been done.

Now they’re all big, rangy teenagers, a snow closure shouldn’t really make much difference to my working day. They don’t need me fussing around with mugs of hot chocolate and plates of toast – only, now, I want to do it. I even buy marshmallows and squirty cream, dammit. I want to hang out in the kitchen, gleefully agreeing that the snow is showing no sign of stopping, and that school will probably be closed tomorrow too. It feels special – like a bonus day together. Only trouble is, I’m getting the distinct impression that my children would actually love me to bugger off back to my workroom and leave them alone.



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