My kids don’t know how to dress for winter.
Since 2003 we have spent a grand total of 1 winter in Minnesota. The rest of our winters have been spent in the hottest inhabited country on the planet. When the “cold” temperatures register at 80 degrees Fahrenheit there is no need for snow pants, boots, scarves, mittens, hats, long underwear, face masks, wool socks…
Now we are here for our second winter, and while in Minnesota this month, the temperature is sometimes 140 degrees colder than our summer temperature. Can I just say it? That’s cold.
My kids are experts at what to do with sandy beach towels, swimsuits, and bottles of sun block. They know what to wear to the beach, what to bring to change into for the drive home, and how to get from the ocean water to the car with a minimal amount of sand dragged into the vehicle. They know that nothing tastes as good as a glass of ice cold water upon arrival after a day at the beach.
But they have no idea what to do with snow-covered boots or half-frozen mittens. They don’t know how many layers are required for twenty-degree weather compared to negative zero weather or that thirty degrees is a pretty warm Minnesota day in December. They don’t know about hot chocolate and melty marshmallows.
They didn’t know how to stuff hats and mittens down the sleeves of their coats so as not to lose a pair on a daily basis, or where to put their coats while eating at a restaurant.
The first time my kids got dressed in the winter all three came out on to the porch, frustrated, bootless and coatless. Their heads were already covered with hats and their hands were covered with mittens. They held coats in their arms and kicked at the boots at their feet.
“How are we supposed to put our coats and boots on?” my son asked.
I laughed. I couldn’t help it. They looked so cute and Djiboutian in that moment. Mittened hands pulling at sleeves and shoe laces. I didn’t take a picture but I laughed.
“Mittens are last,” I said. “Boots come on and off at the door and you leap over the puddles of melting snow or leave a pair of slippers nearby to slide into.” I showed them how to shake off snow and where to hang wet clothes. And then we waddled outside and the kids started coughing at the burn in their lungs and nostrils from the cold air.
It didn’t take long though, for them to start licking snow, catching flakes on their tongues, and throwing snowballs at each other (though I did need to show them how to pack a good snowball).
Here are some winter-dressing tips, as suggested by three Djiboutian kids.