By Dena Amoruso
Is it my imagination, or is it truly 38 degrees outside at certain times of the year? Although for my part of the country that is a relatively low temperature, you would think putting on what most of define as a jacket over our shaking frames at that clime would be logical and at the least more comfortable.
Not so with the American teen. And from conversations I have had with other mothers of teenagers, I am now convinced that I am not alone in the bewilderment I feel over my daughter's total disregard for what should be the appropriate weight clothing and choice of garments for the temperature outside.
From time to time, I need to remind myself that I have indeed purchased warm clothing for her, so that my guilt over her lack of adequate outerwear is not part of some unconscious abuse I have doled out for her sometimes-difficult demeanor. No, I checked. There are virtually new turtleneck sweaters, cute little vests, and even a jacket or two among her closeted garments. I clearly remember how great she thought all those items looked when planning for school in the 90 degree Indian summer heat.
So what happened between then and now that these clothes sit neglected, while she blithely walks out of the house in no more than a tee shirt and a pair of jeans? These are my motherly theories:
"Uncoolness" : This is paramount among the reasons to not throw a jacket or sweatshirt on. I have learned that with a teenager, one moment a piece of clothing is worth cleaning an entire room over, and the next it can be rendered uncool. How, you may ask? Don't expect me to figure out what the criteria is; just know that "it" happens.
Too much hassle: Lately I have begun to think that teenager-hood is not so unique. It's actually a lot like menopause. You forget things. You misplace things, and it's easier to just eliminate a lot of tasks so that you don't have to mess with them any longer. Like a teen's sweatshirt. If they don't take it or wear it, they can't lose it . . . . Like the keys to my car. If I leave them in the ignition in the garage, I won't have to dig through coat pockets or see an empty key ring in the kitchen, where the keys are supposed to be hanging.
They don't want to cover up their outfits: I mean, why try on three outfits and find just the right one for school if you just have to cover it up all the time? Better to show the world your fashion prowess than stay warm, is the theory. Boys don't take second looks at baggy sweatshirts and buttoned-up jackets and try to imagine whether there is something good underneath.
They can borrow a friend's clothing for warmth: Don't you remember thinking everyone else's clothes were always better than your own? What's ironic is that my daughter probably is borrowing her friend's rejected jacket just because her mother made her wear it to school to stay warm. Go figure.
They don't get cold: This is the weirdest excuse of them all, but never washes with me. Average body temperatures do not vary from kids to adults that I am aware of. Yeah, maybe these kids get more activity than we do (after all, I don't play soccer) but cold is cold. At some point, they have to wish they were warmer, even using up all the preceding excuses. If your teen tells you they just don't get cold, they are clearly trying to show you their supernatural side. To what end, though? There's some hidden agenda here that I probably won't figure out until she has kids of her own.
I have concluded that teenage warmth is in the eye of the beholder. As I pass a hoard of kids waiting for the high school bus, my scrutiny reveals that one kid in five looks warm enough to be standing there at 7:15 a.m. And those few kids who are adequately protected from the elements probably have a mother hidden in a bush nearby making sure those jackets stay on. As for me, I'll nag and I'll push, and I'll joke about my daughter's state of winter undress. But I think I'll just let her suffer through her excuses until she discovers the comfort of warmth someday. When I'm much older and much greyer.
Dena Amoruso runs a freelance writing business and is a self-syndicated real estate columnist. Recently deciding to pursue her love of writing full time finds her at home for the first time since her daughter was small. In an effort to expand her writing to real life women's issues, she will be writing for WAHM.com as a mother, daughter, and wife. We hope you enjoy her reflections on experiences (some humorous!) that we may all face from time to time.