Wednesday, January 7

Sweater Dad

I'm generally laid back when it comes to parenting. I try not to be too overbearing or hover, mostly because I hated that kind of thing when when I was growing up. Sure I needed to be told to eat my vegetables, but in general the more my parents repeated that sort of command the more I was inclined to hide the asparagus in my napkin.

My experience is that I tend to get better results through laughter than I do through instilling fear.

Everyone's different, and I'm not here to tell anyone how to raise their kids -- this is just what works for me. But more than anything, the one thing I've had to learn, learn, learn about being a parent is that the best teacher is consistency. Regardless of your approach, if you set and maintain a standard -- your kid is going to know it.

So really the only time rough spots come is when you hit new territory.

Maybe that's why people see the teenage years as so troublesome, because it comes with a whole new set of questions and challenges you haven't encountered before, and you have to model whole new sets of behaviors, create all new standards and rules -- all while changes are happening. Which would be hard work enough, but then there's all these raging hormones tossed in for good measure, and they make things plain weird.


Some days my kid is just.. angry.

Not like watch the world burn furious, but just super frustrated about ..seemingly nothing. You can tell something's bothering him, but even he doesn't know what it is and when you try to ask him about it he gets all snippy and loud, and it's easy to hear that as backtalk -- which can spin you off into a whole other thing if you're not careful.

The reason I bring all this up is that the kid and I have been bumping heads lately over something. Not to a disastrous level, but enough that it's a recurring theme.

See, all the buzz is that in the next few days Florida is going to get hit with a big winter storm, to the point where there are freeze warnings everywhere you look.

"Cold in Florida" is sort of a bullshit statement to begin with -- because even when the winter actually gets to us we rarely get it as bad as the rest of the world.

But it still gets chilly here, and as a parent that kicks in some weird reflex where you feel like you have to do ..something to try and prepare your beloved offspring so that he doesn't end up a kidsicle.

The last thing you want to do is send your kid out into the one day of the year everyone knows is going to be cold without something to wear, except that we live in a place where no one really knows what to wear when it gets cold because ..well, it never really gets cold here.

So for like a week now I've been like, "Where are your sweaters?" Which is a terrible parent question to ask because it's automatically answered with the kind of "I don't know" response that could mean anything from he doesn't know or he doesn't really want to think about it at the moment to he wasn't really listening and he's just making noises with his mouth that resemble a conversation in the hopes that you'll soon go away and let him go back to his phone.

So, no help there.

So you look in his room, which is a disaster. If you're lucky you find a sweater there -- looks kinda small, but is it too small? When's the last time he wore this? He has a hoodie he wears all the time, and I bought him a heavier jacket last year, but will he even need that?

Me: Hey, when are you gonna clean this room?
Him: ..I don't know
The forecast says it's gonna be like 30 degrees out on Thursday, colder than it's been at any point so far this year -- but they said that it was going to be really cold this morning too -- and been it's like 65 and sunny all day. It was almost frikkin' 80 earlier in the week.

If I sent him out there in a winter coat and a sweater and that hoodie he never parts with in preparation for this supposed arctic vortex rolling in and then for whatever reason it doesn't happen -- he'd either melt, or worse he'll take some of it off at school, forget where he put it, and then I'll have to buy him all that crap all over again just in case another one of these potential one day long cold snaps happens next year.

It's like some sort of prank Kobayashi Maru where as a parent you need to be prepared to protect your child from something that may or may not happen for like a couple of hours in the morning one day a year, or possibly when he's walking home from the bus. Or not at all.

But it's no problem, because I'm the laid back parent, right?


So eventually I figure the answer is to get him a new sweater. One that fits, one he likes -- kind of trick him into being prepared by getting him something warm enough to wear that he'd want to show off (and therefore not want to lose). Smart, right?

Well, you might think so -- but then you're not the kid who doesn't want to try on sweaters at all.

Suddenly your grand plan to be casually ready is met with a barrage of "these are itchy" and "whatever you want is fine, can we just GO?" (which is the fucking worst) comments right in the middle of the store and the whole thing becomes a huge pain in the ass that YOU DIDN'T EVEN WANT TO GO THROUGH WITH IN THE FIRST PLACE.

So yeah, my kid might show up at school tomorrow wrapped up in so many layers of cloth and knitted yarn that he might just not be able to move his arms or legs in any given direction, but so help me, he's not going to be cold.

Right, son?













[Now Playing:  Leaders of the New School - "Transformers" ]


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