Now is the Winter of Our Discontent

This year, the problem isn’t the snow, it’s the lack thereof

Originally published January 20, 2012

It’s winter! And winter, of course, means snow!

Or maybe not.

As we mentioned last year, Muffin and Squeaker’s first exposure to snow was not a major success. They were only 17 months old at the time, with little understanding of how the weather changes, and so they were not at all pleased with being brought outside to experience the cold snows of winter firsthand.

This year, at the beginning of the threat of wintry weather – in late October — I went through the winter clothing that we already had and determined that the kids still needed two coats, one pair of snow pants, and two pairs of boots to get us through the traditional onslaught of snow for this time of year. And since the first snow had come so early, the conventional wisdom was that we would be in for a really harsh winter. I had everything in hand by the middle of November, and I patted myself on the back for having everything ready so early. I sat back on my metaphorical laurels and waited for the snow to fly.

And waited. And waited.

In fact, for the most part, the weather was positively spring-like. And this is where the trouble started.See, we try to be good parents and get our children to wear weather-appropriate clothing. In winter in New England, as we all know, that means long-sleeved shirts and warm pants, thick socks, and then the aforementioned winter coats and even snow pants when necessary.

But so far this winter it had not been uncommon for us to allow the girls to go out in lighter-weight jackets or to go with their warmer jackets unzipped. We were still doing fall things such as running around around at local parks , and we didn’t want them to get overheated. And then, when it got colder, Muffin and Squeaker got stubborn about getting into their coats and hats or, if we managed to convince them to wear their coats, they didn’t want to zip them. And while I feel that there are battles I have to fight with them and battles that I can let them win, I’m on the fence about coats in the winter. In theory, they will ask for their coats when they find that it truly is cold. But they are stubborn as only as two-and-a-half year olds can be, and I don’t know if they completely understand that the weather can change as quickly as it does.

A couple of weeks ago, Michael and I were taking the girls home from a friend’s house and Squeaker refused to put on her coat. It was about 30 degrees out, so we ended up fighting her into it, causing her to scream and wail for three blocks. I finally stopped pushing the stroller and asked her why she was so upset. She answered that she wanted her bear to put her coat on. I asked if she wanted the bear to wear her coat, and she replied that no, she wanted the bear to have helped her into her coat.

OK, I said, thinking fast. Could the bear help her zip her coat?

Yes, she said. So this past weekend, when we started down the path toward a similar argument, I had a thought.

“Do you want one of your friends to help you put on the coat?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said, “the dog,” referring to our friends’ daughter’s stuffed dog.

The friends’ daughter was kind enough to not only let the dog “help” Squeaker put on her coat and zip it up, she let Squeaker and Muffin borrow some of her other animals as well. And since it was about 10 degrees outside while we were trying to get Squeaker to put on her coat, we were relieved that a solution had been found.

The one item of winter clothing the girls have not fought us on wearing is their boots. While last year they hated the idea of wearing boots when it was snowy outside, this year they have wanted to wear their snow boots even when there was no snow on the ground. In fact, the day I brought their snow boots home, they wanted to wear them around the house just for fun. And there have been a couple of days that Muffin has claimed that no other shoes have been comfortable on her ever-growing feet and has only agreed to wear her boots.

Earlier this week, we got our first substantial snow since the winter actually started. In Brookline we got only about half an inch, but if it is the harbinger of a coming snowy season, I hope that we can convince the girls that cold weather, and not the unseasonably warm weather they have previously experienced, is the norm.

This week’s column is written by Nomi S. Burstein.

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