The dad zipped up his Parker, tucking his chin behind the collar and pulling up the hood. He was already shivering which he knew was ridiculous as he stood in the warm kitchen waiting for youngest to finish putting on his shoes.
'You do make that look complicated,' the dad said to the youngest.
Youngest was on his bottom on the hard kitchen floor, struggling with a shoe. 'It's not easy,' he grunted as he pushed his heel into the shoe and faffed with the Velcro.
The dad dreaded laces. Middle and eldest had both snowflaked their way through laces training and the dad had no desire to repeat the shoe-tying tantrums of the past.
'Get your gloves,' he said.
Youngest looked up at the dad and then past his shoulder to the deep, pale, wintry blue that filled the kitchen window. 'Why?'
'What do you mean?'
'Why do I need gloves?'
'It's cold out.'
'No it isn't.' The youngest nodded at the thin sliver of blue sky he could see above the dad's shoulder. 'It's warm out.'
'It really isn't.' The dad was starting to feel the heat of his Parker and hood, his cheeks were flushed a warm red.
Youngest squeezed into the final shoe in the time it probably took daddy centipede to blow an important vein in its head. Youngest stood up and looked around the dad. Bright sunshine filled the world and reflected brilliantly from white roofs. 'See?' he said to the dad. 'It's really sunny.'
The dad glanced out of the window, momentarily speechless as he was unable to argue that particular point. 'It's still cold,' he said.
Youngest scrunched his face in a little-boy-can't-see-adult-logic way. 'It's too sunny to be cold.'
'You've seen eight winters,' said the dad, throwing a Game of Thrones, Ned Stark timbre into his voice. 'You know it can be cold and sunny.'
'Not cold and that sunny.'
Youngest shrugged, his puffy winter coat rustling with the movement. 'It's just snow.'
The dad smiled. 'Just snow?' he exclaimed. 'This is the kind of covering that brings the whole country to its knees! Don't tell the trains it's just snow.'
'What about the trains?' the youngest asked, not laughing at the dad's silly voice and making the dad feel a just a little bit sad somewhere deep inside his too-hot, coat-covered chest.
'Why are you talking about trains?'
'Because it doesn't take much for trains not to run, especially in winter. There's either snow or ice or even leaves.'
'Leaves? How do leaves stop a train?'
'I don't know, they just do. Get your gloves.'
'I don't need gloves!'
'You need gloves. Remember, I told you at the weekend that you'd need gloves or your hands would be freezing when you were out on your scooter and you didn't believe me. Then what did you say when you came in?'
'Nothing,' said the youngest in his surliest, most reluctant voice.
'What did you say?'
'I said I wished I'd taken gloves with me,' he mumbled, his eyes dropping to the hard floor of the kitchen.
The dad tried not to say anything like I told you so, but he couldn't help himself. 'So, I was right then and I'm right now. Get your gloves.'
'It wasn't sunny then though,' youngest pouted.
'It wasn't snowing either.'
'It's not snowing now.'
'But there is snow.'
'Forget the sun!'
'But it's so bright!' Youngest moved to stand in a square of sunlight right near the cooker. He raised his chin and let his face swim in the brightness. 'And it's so warm!'
'It's warm in the kitchen. It's warm when the sun comes through double glazing and you're standing near an oven. It's not warm outside. It's freezing outside. Do you know how I know it's freezing?'
Youngest shook his head, refusing to say anything as if speech might somehow force him to admit the dad might have a point.
'Because the snow hasn't melted. It's frozen so it's freezing outside.'
Youngest had to admit that that made sense but other than a small nod he didn't acknowledge the dad's reasoning. Instead, he went to the basket where the gloves were kept and slowly pulled them on. 'I suppose my hands might get cold when I'm on my scooter,' he admitted grudgingly.
The dad nodded. 'They're just gloves. They're not going to bite you. There's nothing living inside the fingers.' The dad wiggled his own fingers at youngest. 'No wiggly worms in there.'
Youngest pulled a face and slowed his progress. Finally, he had them on and flexed his fingers, making sure there were no worms at the ends. 'I'll get my scooter,' he said.
'Actually,' the dad suddenly realised, 'you can't take your scooter today. It's too icy.'
Youngest exploded. 'What!'
'No arguing. It's too icy.'
'That's not fair!'
'It's nothing to do with fair. It's just icy.'
Youngest suddenly smiled as if a triumphant the thought that had just occurred to him was one of such triumphant proportions that the world would bend to his bidding. 'I don't need gloves then.' He pulled them off.
'Yes you do. Put them back on.'
Youngest smiled his smug belief that the world was now his slave. 'I can put my hands in my pockets.'
'What if you slip? You'll fall on your face.'
'I won't slip.'
'You might. It's icy and there's snow.'
'It's just snow!'
'Put your gloves on!'
Youngest grumbled and groaned, grabbed his gloves and pulled them back on, tugging even more slowly as if each finger was filled wiggly worms. His world of slaves, the parents at the head of the whip-cracked horde of bent-backed supplicants, disappeared from his mind,
For the second 'finally', they were on. Determined to avoid a third, the dad, hot and desperate to get outside into the chill morning, utter a brisk 'Right!' and pulled open the back door for youngest to lead the way.
The boy stepped outside and exclaimed, 'Dad!'
'It's really cold out here! It's freezing!'
The dad's big sigh turned to mist as he followed youngest out of the house and onto the frozen path.