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Just wear your coat

Just wear your coat

I don't know if you fight about dressing for winter in your house, but it's a source of constant conflict in mine.

My middle child refuses to wear a coat. He also refuses to wear gloves. Boots are right out of the question. He'll wear a ball cap, but never a winter hat. It doesn't matter how cold it gets, he'd prefer to trudge off through the wind and snow wearing only running shoes on his feet and a hockey jersey over his t-shirt, his hands jammed in his pockets and his shoulders up around his ears.

I try to be as lenient as I can, especially at this time of year when the cold is only a discomfort and not yet a real physical danger, but there are times when it would be negligent of me as a parent to let him go outside dressed as he'd like. So the argument begins, usually accompanied by tears, raised voices, and general unhappiness. Even once I get him out the door properly attired, he'll take everything off and stuff it in his backpack as soon as he thinks I can't see him.

It isn't that he doesn't feel the cold. He does. Last year he came home several times so cold that his ears and fingers were in pain as he warmed up. We talked about how this means his skin is actually freezing, that it could easily become frostbitten. I showed him pictures of frostbitten ears and toes on the internet.  I told him that sometimes people even have to have amputations. Nothing worked.

The problem is this – somewhere along the line he decided that wearing winter clothes isn't cool. It doesn't matter that his other friends (even the cool ones) do wear winter clothes. It doesn't matter that I can show him all sorts of cool snowboarders wearing winter gear. In his mind, coats and boats and the whole paraphernalia are inherently uncool, and he'd rather freeze than be uncool.

I've talked to many people about this over the last year or two, and recently the topic came up when I was talking to my mother. She reminded me that I hadn't been much better as a kid, that I'd wear mitts and a hat and a sweater but never a coat, that I still wear sandals until the snow flies and shorts until it gets up over my boots. She told me just to keep at it, not stress out about it too much, and he'd get the idea eventually.

So, from the lips of my mother, if your house is preparing for the annual battle over winter clothing, just keep at it. Try not to stress too much about it. Eventually they'll get the idea. I just hope mine doesn't get frostbite in the process.

Luke Hill is a stay-at-home father of three boys, aged 10, eight, and four.  He has fathered, fostered, adopted, or provided a temporary home for kids anywhere between birth and university.  He has taught college courses, adoption seminars, camp groups, Sunday School classes, rugby teams, not to mention his own homeschooled kids.