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The ongoing battle with kids and coats

Life in Our Mountain Town, Katie Shaffer

This past weekend I noticed a phenomena that I think some local parents may agree with: Truckee children require less clothing in inclement weather than children raised elsewhere. As the thermometer plummets and the wind blows in rain or snow, Truckee children don’t seem fazed.

I spent this past weekend in Gardnerville watching local Truckee youth play soccer. The weather was cold and rainy.

In the past, I’ve retreated to the warmth of my vehicle and watched a few soccer games from there. At the fields in Gardnerville, however, the parking lots were not adjacent to the fields. Besides, the games were competitive and exciting, and I wanted to support my child by being there on the sidelines.

So I bundled up with layers of warm clothing, an oversized jacket, a hat and a hood, and a neck warmer, and then I held an umbrella over my head. If my children had been around to critique my get-up, I’m sure they would have told me that I bordered on looking ridiculous. But they didn’t, and besides, as I get older, I care less about what other people think of me.

At my child’s final game it was downright pouring. It was then that I noticed two siblings of players on my daughter’s team who had come to watch the game. Specifically, I noticed what they were wearing.

An older brother of a player had on a thin pair of nylon basketball shorts. From his knees down, there was just bare skin. On his feet, he was wearing flip flops. The other player’s younger sister was also somewhat sparsely dressed. She was wearing a sweatshirt and long pants and clogs. Her hair, soaking wet, dripped onto her shoulders. Both of these kids sloshed around in various puddles, having a glorious time.

Maybe there’s three things at work here. First, parents at some point decide that the clothes battle is not worth fighting. Second, a child raised in Truckee is more hardy when it comes to inclement weather, and finally, there’s a trend in place in our town that has teenagers thinking that jackets are unnecessary.

Have you ever driven past a house in your neighborhood that you know to be a second-home, and noticed children playing in the yard dressed in snowsuits? Right away you know that these are not Truckee children who just threw something on and went outside to play.

I’ve noted this scene a few times, and my first thought is, “I bet that mom is glad that she went to the trouble to purchase all that gear from REI, or Lands End, and now her kids are making great use of the weather-proof parkas, pants and boots. It’s a good thing she’s not trying to coax her Truckee-born children into wearing such attire.”

Obviously, I’m not talking about two year olds. Toddlers generally wear what their parents want them to. Then again, I’m not sure my children did when they were two. My kids both went through a stage where they liked to dress themselves. I remember one of my children going to preschool wearing crazy outfits. I was usually pretty sure that I didn’t have to let her teacher know that her clothing choices were not my best effort at color coordination.

Anyway, I’m talking about kids who are in the upper end of elementary school, along with middle- and high school-age kids. These children have begun to notice that the other kids at school are only wearing sweatshirts instead of coats. Before you know it, there are 20 kids at the bus stop on a freezing morning, and maybe two will be wearing a jacket. If you perceive the world the way Truckee teenagers do, a sweatshirt is a perfectly adequate choice if it happens to be cold.

If you are a parent of a younger child, be forewarned. There will come a day when your child will run off to school in nothing more than a sweatshirt. It will be snowing, and she’ll flip up her hood and reassure you that she’s fine, that she doesn’t need a coat. “But don’t you want to wear the warm jacket I bought for you?” you’ll hear yourself say, just like I have. She’ll bargain with you and give you hope by saying that maybe she’ll wear it snowboarding next weekend. Of course, the following Sunday as she leaves to go snowboarding the sun will be out, and the jacket will be left at home.

I’ve stopped buying my kids new jackets every year because they get so little use.

It used to be one of my duties as a mother to make sure my children were warm. Now, my concern seems to have shifted back to myself. Maybe it’s all part of the natural cycle of parenting and letting go.

Katie Shaffer is a Truckee resident. Life in Our Mountain Town appears every other week in the Sierra Sun.


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