Forget about wrangling my kids into their hats and gloves. I’m lucky if I can get them to wear coats, but that hasn’t mattered much the last couple of days.
Noah even considered wearing shorts to school Friday, as I recall he was able to do last January. I do worry about what this means for the polar bears, but I’m delighted the “put-on-a-coat” debate is on ice for a few days.
I recall that once last winter on our way to school, after Holly had stuffed her coat into her backpack, I pulled the car over to the side of the road, put it in park and quietly announced that I wouldn’t drive another inch until she put it on. You know, because it actually was freezing.
I’m a huge fan of natural consequences, of allowing children to have their own experience and decide for themselves what they need (i.e. if they get cold enough, they will eventually decide to wear outerwear), but criminy, you know how it is. I didn’t want the school calling.
Holly really likes to be on time, so she quickly gave up and put her coat on.
I don’t miss the debate, but I do miss skiing – and snowballs and sledding and snow angels – but, I admit, I love sunshine and weather that’s balmy enough for bike rides and long hikes even more. In fact, if the forecast for today is correct, by lunchtime I’ll be sunbathing in my lawn chair. Because really, in January, if the sun is actually shining, what’s more important than dropping everything and running outside to just soak it up? Precious little, if you ask me.
Last Sunday, I even put down my book, scrambled to change out of my pj’s and ran outside the minute I noticed the sun peeking through the clouds. It was beautiful. I hated for my family to miss it.
Before they knew what hit them I’d managed to hustle them all (even the dog) away from their video games and football and into the car so we could hike around Nelson Lake Marsh. You never know when the sun is going to vanish, on a winter’s day, and I wasn’t taking any chances.
“I’m going for a hike. Anyone wanna go with me?” Silence. “I’m taking Jake,” I added, all innocent-like. “I’m going, too!” Holly announced.
It wasn’t my company she was after, it was Jake’s, but whatever. I’ll take it. One down, two more to go. “How ’bout you, Noah?” I asked, nudging his foot. He was stretched out on the floor playing a video game on the computer while also watching football on TV with Todd.
“Come on, come with us?” I asked, nudging Noah again. He groaned. Heat poured through the floor register under his belly and a blanket was draped over him. Life was good, but for my nudging. I felt guilty about dragging him from his cocoon but was desperate to get him into the great outdoors.
“Come with us and I’ll let you stay home from Holly’s soccer game tonight so you can watch the football game with Dad, OK?”
Todd arched his eyebrows and grinned at Noah. It was an offer they couldn’t refuse, and they fell like dominoes. We ended up having a great time. I have a thing about everyone showing up for everyone else’s soccer games, but I have an even bigger thing about grabbing quality time outside, whenever possible. And it’s almost always possible.
A few days after Noah was born I brought him to the pediatrician for his first visit. I’ll never forget the doctor’s advice that I get Noah outside for at least an hour a day, regardless of the weather, rain or shine. He was preaching to the choir where I was concerned, but I was pleased to know that he was doling out that directive.
After all, fresh air isn’t just good for our kids, it’s good for us, too. The movement, adrenaline, opportunity to interact with and enjoy nature – and, if we’re lucky, the sun – all add up to good vibes, often enough to help us muddle through sleepless nights and trying days, even if those days are downright chilly.
But that hasn’t been an issue, lately. Wear shorts in January? Yeah, I’m game.
• Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her husband, Todd, and their two children, Noah and Holly. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.