At Some Point, They’ll Choose to Wear Mittens

A large part of parenting always involves this singular conversation about how they must wear more clothes to stay warm. I’ve spent all their lives coaxing them into outerwear. It’s like negotiating a peace treaty.

And every day, they race on into their lives insisting they need no such clothing or accessories.

(I imagine these items weigh down their joy and hope in living somehow. They imprison them. Appropriate outerwear must represent all the old, conventional, disciplined things of aging. A coat symbolizes the burdens of life, and they want freedom.)

So every day, it’s this: You’ll freeze. You need mittens. You need a sweater. Here’s a hat! Here’s a scarf! You must wear a coat!

It doesn’t matter; they leave the house in sandals or flats in winter. In winter! They fly out the door, claiming “I’m fine! I’ll be fine!” in t-shirts and thin leggings.

I stand there, coats and mittens in hand, begging them.

(What are they, animals? Cats who find some spot in a neighbor’s garage to warm themselves? Dogs a kind neighbor takes in on cold afternoons? How do these children stay warm? How do they stay dry in the rain?)

I realize that at some point in my life, I took it upon myself to bring mittens and an extra sweater everywhere. I carry an umbrella. But maybe at some point in my life, the weather was the least of my concerns. Maybe, back then, life was too full of hope and laughter and busy, joyful things to bother at all with the cold or the heat. I, too, raced out the door.

My joy and hope kept me warm.

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