Four years ago, I wrote a column titled “No You Can’t Wear Shorts in the Winter.” Today I am here to say, with equal parts humility and exasperation, “I Surrender.”
I battled with my son for years on the topic of proper clothing choices for chilly weather. I bribed, cajoled, bartered, and growled. And then, I gave up. If you see my son traipsing across the parking lot in thirty-degree weather wearing soccer shorts, know only that I have tried my best – but sometimes your best just isn’t good enough.
The child hates pants. It’s that simple.
I read an article recently that suggested the “shorts in the winter boys” were mostly attention-seeking creatures for whom wearing shorts was a sign of masculinity and for whom donning pants could be seen as frailty, once their identity as the “shorts in winter boy” had been established. It’s certainly possible that there is an element of bravado in the choice. I know my son relishes the look of horror on my face when I find him shooting hoops in the driveway in shorts and a t-shirt in the middle of the winter.
But the thing is, he was out there already for quite a while before I spotted him. I really think he just doesn’t mind the cold the way that I do.
For a while, we had a deal. If the projected high temperature for the day was above 50, and the starting temp was at least 40, he could wear shorts. But little by little, he chipped away at my bulwark of sensibility. Now his idea of a compromise is to wear soccer socks when the weather dips below freezing so that at least his calves are covered.
And it’s not just the shorts. He also scorns serious winter coats, opting instead for a lightweight fleece jacket most days. He will, however, happily wear an engulfing ski-style hat but not because of the warmth it provides. He just thinks he looks like a ninja.
Whatever, kid. I’ll take what small victories I can get!
Upon careful observation, I have noticed one important fact about my son that might explain his imperviousness to the cold. He never stops moving. Ever. When we’re outside together, he literally runs rings around me – sprinting up and down the driveway, dribbling a basketball, tossing and chasing a stick, riding a skateboard, or practicing cartwheels. Maybe that frenetic energy is keeping his core temperature higher than mine?
My main activity when outdoors in the winter is forceful shivering. I hate being cold and go to great lengths to avoid the sensation. Bundling up to walk the dog in the morning sometimes takes me more time than we actually spend walking. Leggings under the jeans, three or four layers on top, add the gloves, hat, scarf. Waddle briskly around the block, then back to the warmth of the house.
I love my flannel sheets and fleece blankets – preferably more than one. Meanwhile my son sleeps in shorts under a lightweight blanket and wakes up sweaty. I suspect he’s doing calisthenics in his dreams.
All my grumbling aside, I will say this for the child: he never complains. Whether it’s a tough-guy act or simply a different internal thermostat, I’ve never once sensed that he regrets his wardrobe choices. If I had to deal with whining about the cold when we were out, I’d put more effort into making him wear appropriate clothing. But the only one fussing most of the time is me, despite my many layers.
His younger sister has started trying to follow in his footsteps, but I’ve been more firm with her. That’s not sexism, at least not on my part. Take it up with the manufacturers of girls’ clothing, since her shorts are vastly shorter than his, and provide significantly less coverage!