When I was growing up, we did a lot of sledding in the winter. The high school at the top of the street had a decent slope for it. We would go there and spend an hour or so trudging up, zooming down, ad nauseum until we were too cold to stay out anymore. We wore thermals, jeans and t-shirts, sweat shirts, ski pants, heavy coat, big boots, gloves and hats, and if we were lucky to have them/find them, earmuffs, scarves, or ski masks. Most of said articles of clothing would come home wet, icy, and be strewn about downstairs in front of the woodburning stove, where we would stand in front of said stove, turning ourselves every few minutes until we were toasty warm and the feeling returned to our toes and fingers once again.
Fast forward thirty years: I see both of the following in ONE day. The temperature outside is below the freezing point of water, there is four to six inches of snow on the ground, six to eight inches of slush piled along the sides of the roads. It's early in the morning before the day has had time to warm up to the predicted highs of "in the 20s (Fahrenheit)". I drop off my kids at school. This is unusual for me. I usually let them experience walking in the snow to school, all bundled up looking like I did at that age out in the snow. This particular day I took pity on them. After dropping them off, I see other kids walking to school. Most are bundled up as I expect most kids to be in this kind of weather. Then I see a kid with a hoodie on, walking in sneakers, WEARING SHORTS! This was NOT a teenager. I see this kind of mixed up clothing on teens - they must figure it's "muy macho" or something. All the heat from those raging hormones must have to go somewhere. But this kid was much younger, had to have been 2nd or 3rd grade or so. My question is: WHY? Why was this kid dressed for a spring outing when it was obviously sledding weather? Has the family fallen on hard times and can't afford pants? Do the parents work the graveyard shift and are not at home when their children dress themselves? Did the kid figure that clean shorts beats dirty pants no matter what the weather? Is he following the insane example of a much-loved but overheated older sibling? I almost turned around. I wanted to haul him to the school and then call his folks and give them a talking to. I didn't. I know it could simply be a case of "mom/dad is unconscious from walking the baby the length of the house all night because the baby couldn't sleep and now that the baby is FINALLY asleep, he/she can get some rest and if the 9 year old wants to wear shorts, let him feel the consequences of his decision".
The other incident happens later that night, at a well known big-box home improvement center. I'm sitting in the car. My husband has run in for a part he needs. An SUV parks next to me and a young father gets out (in a hoodie, tennis shoes) carrying a baby carrier, which thankfully has one of those cold weather covers on it. He beelines it for the entrance to the store. While I can't vouch for his own taste in appropriate clothing, at least the baby is protected. The young mom comes racing around from the other side of the SUV with an older toddler in her arms. The mom has a short coat on, the toddler has sweats on. No coat. The mom runs from the SUV to the store. Once again, I'm left to wonder: what are they THINKING? The sun had gone down two hours before. The night air is frigid and the temperature is dropping well below the freezing threshold and they have their toddler in sweats. Just sweats.
Is it a generational thing? When I would visit my grandparents to stay overnight, my grandmother would ask me "Are you warm enough?" Didn't matter which grandparents, both grandmas would say that. "Are you warm enough?" I don't say that to my kids, but I think it. It comes out of my mouth as, "Do you need another blanket? Do you need another coat? You need longer pants. You need longer sleeves. Where's your gloves?"
Is it just that I hate to be cold myself so I'm preoccupied about how the temperature feels?
Am I trying to cover my own behind by making sure MY children are bundled to the gills before going out in the snow? ("I don't care if the other kids wear shorts and get hypothermia, you WILL wear your boots in the snow!")
Do kids these days not KNOW what it feels like to have a snowball end up going down the inside of the their shirt/pants/boots? Are they never outside enough to know what the beginning feelings of frostbite is like? Is it all explained away with "I'm going inside soon anyway so I don't need to put all that stuff on."?
Am I being too judgmental? Are parents not judgmental enough?
What do you think?