Behind our apartment, they’ve constructed an enormous crane, higher than our six-story building. It’s so huge, in fact, that we have trouble seeing the end of the jib from our balcony. Naturally, this magical steel beanstalk fascinates our kids, especially our 2-year-old boy.
So yesterday, we were all out on the balcony in the evening, staring at the construction site. It was a bit cool, say 60, 65 degrees (f). Both kids, as usual, began stripping as soon as they got home. My daughter had changed into a flimsy pink sundress and a headband with red devil horns, and my son, miraculously, still had on shorts and undies … until he didn’t. But at least he insisted on keeping his shoes.
At some point, I lifted him up so that he could get a better look at the construction. Then I heard a voice calling from below.
“Hoi!” Is he not cold?
Haha, funny you should ask — NO.
The answer is no, Mr. Construction Worker. As far as I can tell, my kids are, in fact, not cold.
It’s true! I can only conclude that they have no awareness of personal thermal regulation until they turn all blue and shivery. Only then would they accept sufficient clothing/ bundling as anything other than humiliating defeat.
Don’t think I don’t offer! And sometimes they accept right away, or come around later. But I decided early on that, generally speaking, once the situation escalates, this is not a battle for which I care to enlist. Because, you see, I can put on my own damn jacket/ hat/ gloves/ socks/ pants. I don’t therefore have to endure the immediate, elemental consequences of their insufficient bundling. Neither shall I suffer their outrage when I insist.
Look, I’m not some John Locke disciple who bathes them in cold puddles and restricts their shoe wear. They do those things all by their little selves. And when we get home, they jump in a warm bath.
Now, I happen think this is ok. Because I acknowledge that exposure to low temperatures does not automatically transmit viruses. Does it perhaps use up energy reserves and dry out mucus membranes, increasing the chances of infection upon actual viral contact? Yeah, OK sure. Maybe that. But: 1. sniffles don’t slow them down anyway, and 2. I maintain: the cold doesn’t directly, positively make one sick. And anyway, our kids don’t seem to catch bugs any more often than the ones who go outside looking like Ralphie’s kid brother in A Christmas Story.
That said, I will never convince strangers of this. Especially older women with empty nests and momnesia. And, especially every frigging European.
Where we live, in Belgium (and, it seems, across much of the “Old World”) they ultra-bundle their young. I mean, I’ve seen kids’ heads wrapped after bath time until their hair dries, even in the summer. (How? No chance of my kids keeping a towel on their heads for longer than two seconds). Adults respond to sore throats here by wearing scarves. An educated woman once told me that she caught her cold in the chest because she always fell asleep open-shirted while breastfeeding at night.
I don’t object to such things, because who cares? I mind my own beeswax, I do. And that’s why I can smile politely at these concerned citizens, then promptly disregard their good intentions.
… mostly. I’ll admit, the construction worker caught me off-guard. Mainly because that fellow’s comment came after the same workers watched my daughter get hurt when I let them walk across the crane runway while it was still on the ground. (What!? Sure it’s got a steel lattice, but it was on the ground, and the workers didn’t object. I didn’t know the boy was going to push his sister like that. Boo-boos happen anywhere.) Anyway, the thought of husky construction workers, perched precariously at 100 feet atop a steel crane while worrying about the health and safety of my little ones was just a tad much.
So today the kids left the house with coats on and zipped up, damn it.