My car dashboard indicated that the outside temperature was only two degrees, but the students streaming into the middle and high schools seemed almost oblivious,
Most were dressed in jeans and hoodies with no coats. A few of the boys wore shorts, and a few girls wore skirts with no tights or leggings. Even in my warm car with heated seats, seeing those bare legs made me shiver.
Not one student wore a hat or gloves, although some had their hands shoved into pockets as they walked to school from a nearby neighborhood.
My own two children were only wearing light jackets, but at least they were wearing some type of outerwear, which was more than most of their peers. I felt a swell of parental pride as I dropped each of them off at their respective schools. They might not be wearing hats, but at least they both had enough sense to wear long sleeves and long pants.
Based on what most students were wearing that frigid morning, I’m guessing parents and common sense have an equal amount of influence over teenagers’ clothing choices. Gone are the times when we had could protect our children from harsh weather elements.
The day after my son was born in early April, I was preparing him to leave the hospital and head home for the first time.
The nurse charged with monitoring our departure was obviously displeased. Before I nestled Shepherd into his car seat, she intervened.
“Your not letting him go outside like that?” she asked with a distinct note of disapproval.
I looked at my son and simply nodded.
“There’s a chill in the air,” she declared as she picked up a blanket and tucked it around Shepherd with an expertise I was sure I’d never have.
I felt as thought I’d already flunked Motherhood 101. I hadn’t known that exposing my son’s bare face and hands to 60 degree weather was cause for alarm. If only I could have flashed forward almost 17 years, I would have been laughing at both the nurse and myself.
Babies are tough. Kids are tougher. And parents have to be the toughest of all, no matter what the weather.
We may have to be tough, but we don’t have to be cool since being cool apparently requires enduring frigid temperatures while pretending to be unaffected. I’m perfectly content to be the weird mom who covers herself in coats, scarfs, hats and gloves.
I have no need to be cold and no desire to be cool.
I do, however, have a burning desire to ensure my kids make decisions based on their own well-being rather than on the prevailing styles.
The light jackets they wore on that incredibly frigid morning indicate that I just may be making slight progress toward that goal.
Trina Bartlett lives with her husband, Giles Snyder, their teenage son and daughter, two cats and one enormous German Shepherd. When she’s not being a mom, volunteering, writing, biking or walking the giant German Shepherd, Trina works full time as a director at a nonprofit, social service organization.