Friday, January 9, 2015

Walking On Thin Ice

It is -25 C with the wind chill today. I am sitting at my desk with an extra scarf over my sweater, and wishing I had gloves suitable for typing in. More hot tea is on the way. And yet, I can't adequately explain to my kids why they aren't allowed outside in just their socks.

Every time we leave the house, I have to remind the girls to wear hats and mitts. Not just carry them along, but actually use them. And it isn't like they are immune to the cold. I see them hunker into their jackets as the wind blows them sideways on departing the supermarket. Me, I don't set foot out of the house without my fur hat planted on my head. I suppose the kids just have a tropical mindset. Sunscreen and sunglasses they understand. Warm jackets, not so much.

Last week was my birthday, and, as everyone knows, you get to be The Boss of the Universe on your birthday. After a week (or three) of Christmas/New Year's/No-Excuse-Provided eating, I wanted to go for a walk. That may sound odd after I've just spent two paragraphs complaining about the cold, but it was a balmy -3 C that day, and I'm a walker. So Erik and I rounded up the girls and we headed off to the woods.
Erik and I tromped along the trail as the girls ran up and down the hills. Pretty soon, I noticed that Indy had no hands.
"Indy, where are your mittens?"
She shrugged, her hands still hidden in her jacket. "In the car."
"Why? I told you to bring them."I said.
She ran back up the hill. "I did bring them. They're in the car."

We made our way to the end of the trail and down to the beach.
"Mom!" shouted Stylish. "The water is frozen!"
"There's ice everywhere!" squealed Indy.
"Just stay along the edge," said Erik. "The ice is thin - you'll fall through."
Erik and I told stories about our own youthful through-the-ice-into-shallow-water experiences, but the girls weren't really listening. It was too much fun to make the ice crack along the shore.

Frozen water - who would have thought?
Even Erik gave it a try.
And they crept out further and further.
By now I sounded as motherly as it gets. "Girls, don't go out so far! Thin ice is dangerous! Yes, I know it is shallow here, but you are still going to end up cold and soaking! Girls!"
And they listened, sort of. They came closer to shore for a step or two, then right back out on the slippery stuff.

We came across a beaver dam. After some detailed examination (taking care not to disturb the beavers, of course), Stylish and Indy locked in on the long log disappearing into the ice.

They couldn't help themselves. I know that. Heck, I was tempted to walk along that log myself. But out they went, back and forth, poking at the ice with sticks and making swirls in the snow.

Erik and I chatted as the girls played. And then, crack! I turned to see Indy hip-deep in the water, still clinging to the log.

Man, I hate being right sometimes.

"Pull your foot up carefully, honey," I said. "Don't lose your boot."
(The things you say as a parent. No comforting words, no rush along the ice to save your second-born. Just don't lose that new damn boot.)
Indy pulled her foot up, boot and all, and crawled back along the log, sobbing a little.
I am cold and wet and I don't want to talk about it.
Now was the time for hugs and help. Erik squeezed out her boot liner while I gave her one of my warm socks. (Yes, I was wearing doubles, like any rational human being in a Canadian winter.) I had to hush Stylish repeatedly, as she kept laughing at her sister. Indy's rage was building and, once she goes Hulk, it is hard to turn back. Siblings. It's a wonder any of us make it to adulthood.

We hobbled back to the car, and Indy slowly got over her annoyance at falling through the ice. As soon as we got in the car, Indy stripped off the offending boot and sock, and wrapped a cloth grocery bag around her wet foot. At least she was learning - get those cold, wet things off ASAP.
A perfectly acceptable winter footwear substitute.
It was a fun day in the woods anyway, but I'm not sure anyone learned anything. Indy labels the episode "an accident" rather than "an easily-forseeable consequence of my actions". And Stylish just finds the whole thing hilarious.

I think it is time to head back to the tropics. Wearing sunscreen is so much simpler.


With Brio said...

Amy I love your writing -- I check for updates all the time on Papillon, whether they're land or sea or air! Hope you guys are headed for warmer weather soon!

s/v Brio

Amber said...

Great story! I always loved cracking ice when I was little. And yes, absolutely, don't lose your boot :)
We had to teach our daughter to wear shoes before we headed to America a few Christmases ago. She usually only wears flip-flops and hated wearing real shoes. Once we got to the mid-west and she felt real cold, she suddenly didn't mind the shoes too much!
Amber at