I have decided that when the time comes for me to grow old and crotchety (ok: more crotchety), there will be at least one indignity of old age that I will not have to suffer: I will never have to become one of those poor, shivering old souls who are forever complaining about how cold everyone keeps their restaurants and theaters–the kind who travel everywhere with a cardigan and an extra pair of socks. And no, it’s not the prospect of global warming that has me so optimistic, but rather a lack of retirement planning: in all likelihood I’ll be spending my twilight years with my daughter, Clementine, a person who lives surrounded by a large personal climate bubble that is not only always a delightful 75E inside, but also has the added benefit of being completely impermeable to any type of rain or snow on the outside.
I know this to be true because every time I have tried to help her pack her bags for an upcoming trip she goes ballistic over the mere suggestion that she pack clothing suitable for any weather that could be described by a word other than “balmy.” In fact, judging from her most recent extremely hostile reaction to my suggestion that she take at least one long sleeved t-shirt along with her to summer camp, I thought that maybe there had been a last minute change of venue, and that this year’s camp was being held in Hell.
But no, it was just our usual packing struggle–the usual tears and recriminations, the usual wails of “Why can’t I just wear what I want to wear?” and, finally, the usual grudging acquiescence to the inclusion of one tiny piece of inclement weather gear–like, maybe a pair of socks.
The thing is, it’s not as if I am going to make her wear the clothes in question: I just want her to have them in her possession, if for no other reason than that if I don’t–and she ends up being the kid who has to run through the rain in a Hefty garbage bag–I might start to pull even farther ahead of Britney Spears in the “Worst Mother of the Year” competition. The other reason, of course–the more altruistic one– is that I really do want her to be warm and dry, and I an still naive enough to believe that if I pack it, and she needs it, she will wear it. After all, even the most hardened of fashionista wouldn’t stand around shivering when she could simply reach into her bag and pull on a coat–right?
Maybe not–judging from the tiny blue co-eds I see mincing their way home from the downtown bars every winter, maybe going coatless is the new thing. Maybe it’s not just a fashion statement, but a statement statement. Maybe today’s’ kids burn their coats like the women of the 60’s burned their bras; maybe even showing up at an event wearing a coat (or rain jacket) is now considered the lowest expression of bourgeoisie. Maybe there’s a bunch of kids sitting around the Everest Base camp in shorts and t-shirts even now, greeting all of the “sell-outs” who show up in their brand new Gore-Tex jackets with sneering comments like, “What–did your mommy pack that for you?”
I hope not. I’d much rather believe in the “Clementine’s personal climate bubble” theory than have to face up to the fact that all of these clothing fights might really be stemming from some kind of a misplaced concern for fashion, because if we’re already already fighting about clothing choices at age ten, then what are we going to be fighting about at age fifteen–public nudity? (“But Mom, naked is the new black.”)
Call it my own “personal denial bubble” if you like, but for now it’s all I go– and I’m keeping it.