Yes, That’s My Kid Not Wearing a Coat

image source: Monica Bielanko

An article on The Huffington Post dares pose the question Does how you dress your kids for cold weather say something about you as a parent?” Quite frankly, I’m offended the question is even posed. Because anyone who’s spent sixty seconds with a 3-year-old can tell you that you’re either arguing for hours or letting the kid wear what he or she wants to wear. Now that I think of it, the same policy probably also applies to 13 year olds.

My son, Henry, will be 4 in a month. Unlike his older sister, who doesn’t have a sartorially savvy bone in her body and only objects to articles of clothing if they inhibit body movement or contain scratchy, uncomfortable parts (absolutely no turtlenecks!) Henry is all about appearance. Additionally, he doesn’t like coats. I don’t know if it’s because he spends so long choosing his outfits or costumes (he’s spent the past two months living in a Santa Claus suit I can only get to for washing when he’s in the tub) that he’ll be damned if he’s going to cover up the final ensemble with a stupid coat, but coats are B.S. in his stylebook. Nothing doing.

The first time he refused his coat I spent precious morning minutes arguing with him. Eventually tears were involved (he was also upset) and the forced wearing of the coat ruined everyone’s morning. The next time a coat was required I figured I’d let him learn the lesson on his own, wrongly assuming the bitter chill would cause him to beg me for his coat. Nope. He was like a man released from prison; joyous and free from the confines of his cloth and zipper imposed jail. On the few occasions I manage to coerce him into coat-wearing he takes it off the second my back is turned and if you think I’m going to spend my time shoving limp spaghetti noodle arms into armholes every 30 seconds, you’ve got another thing coming.

It’s been below zero for about a week now and it doesn’t phase him. It’s not like we’re spending much time outside; mostly dashing from the car into the buildings we frequent as part of our family routine, but he’s still avoiding his coat with the same fervor he avoids most of his dinner and picking up his toys. I suppose he enjoys the exhilarating burst of frigid air as he dashes from the car into the grocery store, YMCA, or library.

Nonetheless, I get Stink Eye on the regular for being a “bad mom” because my kid isn’t wearing a coat. And it always seems to be women of a certain age who are alone. The raised eyebrow, the shake of the head, and the “Goodness, where is your coat, little man?” question posed to him but clearly meant for me, his negligent mother. I want to tell them, “YOU go ahead and get him to put one on, lady!” (What is WITH older women and the judgment, anyway?)

I’m more than sick of all the hand-wringing nonsense that comes along with raising the precious, precious children of the 21st century. OMG! He’s going to catch a cold and diiiiie. What a terrible mother. Shut up. Just, shut up. He’s fine. Just as I don’t force him to eat — because who has time for a dinner face-off every damn night? —  if he gets cold enough, he’ll put on a coat. If he doesn’t wear one, big deal. It’s not like we’re hiking through the Andes, is it? We’re walking from our heated car into a heated store. So give it a rest, okay?

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