This afternoon, we finally had a mild day with temperatures reaching the high 50s, and when I picked up my son after school, it was sunny and lovely. I had already opened the sun roof and side windows to air out the stuffy car, and, in a fit of sun inspired madness, I temporarily forgot that I live in the Pacific Northwest and that it is March. Having also wiped from my mind the sight a moment before of the towering storm cloud that looked like it tapered down into a 20 mile wide pitch black wall of downpour, (I had turned the corner, so it did not exist any more, obviously), I closed the windows and left the sunroof open. It was a nice day, so nothing could possibly go wrong, especially on a quick school pickup.
Quick school pickups are never that, and this was no exception. My son had been working on projects during his after care time, and he had to put everything away. His school does a huge “learning celebration” at the end of every trimester, with presentations of all the main work learned in every subject, by every student K-8, all on the same afternoon. They dress up and proudly show off all their work to parents, grandparents, and each other. My son is a third grader, and has only this year worked out the concept of “deadline” and “work must be finished before the learning celebration,” and is consequently struggling with anxiety and stress, because he has not yet developed time management or coping skills, and sometimes can be a bit…well, feckless, in class. He wants to be successful, but is still learning the tools, and this year we have had some tearful bedtime conversations about being overwhelmed and some role-playing and time brainstorming strategies for how he can keep on task and keep up with his work, but as the deadlines near, it gets harder. He was stressed out and unhappy that he needed to work in his studio time before school (usually he gets to work in the studio and design and build things, but when he has work to finish, he must do that first). He also had to work all through his aftercare time instead of playing with his friends. As a result, his teacher took a moment to really congratulate him for completing even more work than they had planned for him to do this afternoon, and a little coddling from me. He showed me some of what he was working on in class and proudly took me to see the big chapter book that he has started reading by himself in his Literacy class. Then he found the poetry books for the other 3rd grade Literacy class and disappeared into a basket of pillows to read. Eventually, I got him away from the poetry, righted the basket, his outdoor shoes were found, the restroom was visited, and we could go outside.
Even though this was longer than I had planned, it still had only been 20 minutes, so I was not worried about the sunroof. Until my son opened the school’s outside door and I was hit with a blast off incredibly cold air. What was that about? I had left my winter wool coat in the car, unneeded. I turned to the door quizzically and it was…sort of dark. Not “it’s now after dusk even though I just picked you up at school” dark, because we are past the nadir of winter when it is dark by 4pm, and now that we are on daylight savings time, it is fully light when I pick him up, and doubly so on a nice day. I stepped outside and realized my mistake. It was not a nice day. It was dark, windy, freezing, and pouring down rain. And then – I remembered the sunroof. “Miles – sunroof – run!” I yelled, in no way making the situation clear to him. But, being an 8 year old who will never walk when he could run, bounce, climb, dance, or parkour along instead, he agreeably sprinted along with me. When we got to the car, he said “MoMMMMM!” in the escalating pitch he uses to remonstrate with the cat when she commits a feline felony, such as carrying off his Lego wheels or adopting his cat stuffies as kittens (or prey) and carrying them around in her mouth, licking them, and then shaking the heck out of them and trying to rip the stuffing out of their furry insides.
I dove headfirst into the car and lunged for the glovebox, which surprisingly still had napkins in it. As I frantically dried off bags and seats and center consoles, I noticed both that my skirt was getting soaked from the waterlogged driver’s seat and that I had not unlocked the back door to let my son in. I quickly dove over the back seat and opened his door, then resumed frantically blotting up the water. I was relieved to see that the bag with my laptop and iPad in it was at least zipped up and also covered by my wool coat, which was quite wet. When the napkins were all soaked through, I started drying things with the dryer portions of my winter coat. Eventually it occurred to me that if I switched on the ignition and actually closed the sunroof, the drying process would get much faster. At that point, it began to snow mixed with the rain.
Chaos staunched at last, we started up the car and moved into traffic. Within a couple of blocks, we were again looking at blue sky. The towering cloud had followed me around the corner when I drove to school, and since it was now pouring and snowing over THERE, over HERE on the road was nice again. As we journeyed along the riverside, safely parallel to the storm and only slightly dripping, being between the low afternoon sun and the heavy rain meant that we were at ground zero in the rainbow factory. A rainbow blossomed across the sky, so intense that it had wide bands clearly showcasing each color – even the indigo that you can never really see. “Look at that!” I exclaimed, pointing in front of us. The rainbow was vivid all the way down, and we could see through it to watch its colors dancing on the white buildings behind it. The sight jolted my son out of his stressy gloom, and as we drove slowly in traffic, we watched the rainbow double, and then triple. Suddenly, things did not look so bad.
Every cloud has a silver lining. Or maybe a ROY G BIV one.