Although it is not yet technically winter, it's been cold -- at least where I live in suburban Philadelphia. It's already snowed here. Twice. I am not complaining. I welcome the change in the seasons. I've always been more of a fall and winter person than a spring and summer one.
I'd rather wear a sweater than a tank top, and once the leaves start to change colors, I wear a scarf almost everyday. In fact, "scarfing" is now a verb in my vocabulary. I get so excited to start putting on my jackets -- leather jackets, suede ones, blazers, fleeces and most especially the corduroy fitted cropped one that works with just about every scarf I own. When the temperature drops even further, I'm more than happy to re-visit my coats -- sweater coats, toggle coats and parkas both short and long.
So you could say that I have a bit of an obsession with coats, but I also just like to stay warm. I welcome the more recent advances in coat technology in the forms of polar tech, lightweight parkas and puffy coats that fold up like sheets of paper, yet somehow keep you feeling like you are sitting by the fire underneath an oversized cozy blanket. I feel lucky to have these items in my closet, especially last winter, when it seemed that the cold would never end.
My kids? Not so much. They say they don't get cold. They don't need coats. They don't wear coats. They have coats. The same ones with the advanced technology that would keep them warm on even the coldest winter day. But, their coats don't really ever see the light of day or the glow of the moonlight, either.
"Kids don't wear coats," or so my kids tell me. I do a little impromptu research at the bus stop and at school drop-off. My kids make a fair point. I don't see many coats going in through the school's front door. I check the thermometer on my car and it reads 38 degrees Fahrenheit. Seems cold to me. I'm bundled up in my long lightweight, yet still very warm puffy coat, my head is covered in my multi-colored knit hat, I'm "scarfing," of course and I'm even wearing gloves (yes, they are texting gloves, but they still keep my hands pretty warm.)
I notice that the boys are almost all coatless and many even pant-less. Boys today, it seems, are made with the kinds of legs that don't get cold. They wear shorts (my son included) on even the coldest of days. To be fair, they are also wearing high socks, so technically, only their knees are exposed to the frigid temperatures, but still. I remember my mother telling me to put long underwear on underneath my jeans on one particularly cold day, and I did. Shorts would not fly in her winter world.
What the hell is going on? I wonder to myself as I watch the half-naked children stroll into school, while the teachers await them in their floor length parkas. When I was growing up, we had a rule in my house that when the temperature dipped below 40 degrees, you had to wear your parka to school. If the thermostat read above 40, we could wear our down vests -- the kind that Marty McFly wore in Back to the Future. The one that Lea Thompson thought was a life preserver. My friend, a very sensible parent, has a rule in her house that if the temperature dips below 40, her kids have to wear pants. If it's above 40, shorts are totally kosher.
I've recently worked hard to establish some dressing rules in my house. My son and I picked the arbitrary date of November 20 as a deadline (don't ask me why). After that date, my son had to wear pants. I'm still working on long sleeves. Hopefully by January. My son now wears a hooded sweatshirt to school, but that first came out on a day where I considered putting hand warmers in my gloves. I'm not kidding.
Here's the thing: I'm not a stickler about most things -- at all. I'm pretty chill (no pun intended) about the foods my kids eat. I never got too worked up about those nap schedules when the kids were babies, and we eat dinner when I get it on the table. But for some reason, this coat thing, this wearing pants thing, it gets to me. It's like my cause or something.
"Why do you care if he wears a coat?" my husband asks as he motions to our son putting on a hoodie to brave the arctic air. "He doesn't get cold." Really? He doesn't get cold? No kids get cold? How is that possible? Did children's body temperatures change in the 21st century? How is it acceptable that we let our first world children go out in literally freezing temperatures without coats. Without pants?
My husband is amused at my hopeless attempt to get my kids to wear their coats campaign. He tells me that my autobiography will be entitled Wear Your Coat, or perhaps those words will be etched on my headstone.
Whatever the case, I will utter them until I can no longer speak. I know they will be said in vain as it seems that I have all of the kids in the world (or at least the ones at my kids' elementary school) working against me.
Parents often make themselves feel better in saying that their kids may have won the battle but they will ultimately win the war. I may be losing both here but you know what? At least I'll be warm -- in my coat.