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The Winter War has Begun

Back in the days of yonder, when I was a wee lass, the winter was a troublesome thing. Not only did I have to walk five miles to school, uphill, both ways, through ten feet of snow but I had to do it pulling a wagon to get all fifty pounds of my school texts to school.

And I did it with a smile, dammit.

Or at least this is what I tell my kids every morning as they whine their way down to the end of our drive way and wait for their cushy heated yellow school bus to ferry their arses to school.

Don’t whine to me about having to push your brother’s wheelchair down our drive. I can totally out whine you with my imagined tales of woe.

My reality, of course, was easier than the mythical treks I tell my children about and no less cumbersome than what my children face every day.

The only difference between my getting to school in the winter and that of my childrens’ is about 25 years and the fact they never had to deal with my father.

God bless his cotton socks, my dad had ideas. A child was not to go out into the great outdoors without every square inch of skin being covered up. I had to wear a toque (a knitted cap for you non-Canadians), a scarf wrapped at least three times around my face so that my stale breath would freeze into crusty little snotsicles around my nose, a parka, over-sized winter boots and of course, snow pants.

I was so bundled up I could barely move, let alone see through all the wool and fleece he made me wear.

And heaven help us if we left the house without at least two pairs of mittens.

I have no earthly idea what happened to my father back in his own frosty winter school days but if I had to make an educated guess I’m pretty sure it involved being stranded in a blizzard and being forced to eat the frozen remains of his favourite dog Timmy.

In all fairness to my father, we lived in Canada; a place renown for its igloos, maple syrup and snow banks. And the particular location that I grew up in was subject to some mighty cold temperatures for lengthy stretches of time.

But when you’re 15 years old, desperate to be noticed by the cool boy in your class and your main goal in high school was to avoid being shoved into a locker, the last thing you ever wanted to do was draw attention to the fact you were wearing mukluks to school when every one else was wearing running shoes.

My dad effectively killed any chance of my happily ever after by ensuring I was toasty warm during the winter months. Heck, who knew a pair of ski pants was more effective than a chastity belt?

Somehow, with my father’s vigilance, I survived my childhood. Warm and with all my digits. Which, I’m fairly sure, was his primary goal. Go figure.

And then came the magical day I set foot outside, in the snow, with only my tennis shoes and a thin (yet fashionable) jacket hanging wide open that I suddenly realized there may be something to be said for warmth over fashion.

Which is why, when I had my own children to love and torment, I channeled my father’s attitude and set to ensuring my own kids never went outside without being appropriately bundled up for the winter months.

This worked out fine, you know, when they were six. But now they are teens and in high school and set upon not reliving my own high school terror.

They’d rather be cold and cool than warm and shunned.

It would seem no matter how many parkas I buy, or snow pants I supply, no matter how many hats, scarves and mittens there are, none of these get worn. My teenaged son is happy to help bundle up his baby brother and cover his wheelchair with a blanket before heading outside with him but do you think I can get him to zip up his own jacket, don a pair of gloves or even wear winter boots?

No.

My daughter? She’s not much better. Although she will wear a scarf if it accessorizes her outfit, so there is that, I suppose.

But all of this has got me wondering, is this daily hassle worth it? Maybe I’d be better off spending my time in the morning pouring myself a steaming cup of coffee and surfing the inter webs instead of arguing with them about the merits of appropriate winter attire.

I mean the chances of them being stuck out in a blizzard are slight and if push came to shove, I’m sure they could always find the frozen carcass of another dopey teen who didn’t bundle up to munch on while a search team looked for them.

And if they lost a digit or two in their quest to be fashionably cold, well, really, they’ve got extras. It’s not like we were only born with one toe and one finger. Who needs the tips of their ears anyways? I’ve got an old barn cat that has thrived for years with only half an ear.

Perhaps I should just stop investing in winter wear for them and spend all the money I’m saving by not buying them mittens on something for myself.

Like an extra warm winter jacket.

Because I’m too old to be cold and too cranky to care if I’m cool.

It would seem there is some magic to a pair of snow pants. Not only will they keep you warm as well as being a teenaged prophylactic; they’ll turn you into the one person you swore you’d never be. Your father.

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