Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Dressing for the Weather

These last weeks have been all topsy-turvy weather wise in NYC, with 60 degree temperatures one day, followed by a surprise snow storm just a few days later. It has been a struggle to get the kids to dress appropriately: their hearts scream "spring" even as the thermometer reads below freezing, and so they insist on sweatshirts as outerwear while I try to cajole them into their ski jackets.

I can't help but remember the first time I encountered this conflict. My older son was a toddler, probably about three or so, and was insistent on having his way with everything. I've always been a "pick your battles" kind of mom -- so many things don't really matter in the long run -- and after days of forcing him to wear a heavy coat which he insisted was too hot, allowed him to walk home from daycare without it. I figured that if he got cold he'd just ask for it, and that would be that.

As it turns out, there are apparently plenty of folks who truly believe that "it takes a village" to raise a child and that they have a responsibility to impose their version of proper parenting on anyone they encounter. Several blocks from home, an older women fell in step next to us and began berating me. I couldn't possibly be my son's mother, she insisted, because no good mother would allow her child to be outdoors on a cold day without a winter coat. My assertion that he didn't want to wear it fell on deaf ears, and she continued to follow us for about five or six blocks, bad-mouthing my parenting skills all the way.

Note: A version of this post is included in the anthology Songs of Ourselves, published by Blue Heron Book Works.

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