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Really! It is not summer

January 6, 2011
By KAY?SEDGMER, Lifestyles Editor

RECENTLY, on my way to work at 7:30 a.m., I happened upon a kid dressed in shorts and a t-shirt sporting sandals with socks.

Not an uncommon site when you are looking at teenagers, right?

Well, I considered it extremely unusual and dangerous since the temperature at that time with 8-degrees Fahrenheit!

I am assuming this approximately 15-year-old had managed to get outdoors under the radar of his parents. I wanted to stop and offer the boy my Carhartt jacket and bibs that I carry in my trunk during the winter months. However, I knew he wouldn't consider my sacrifice to be, well, COOL!

And ... cool is most likely the reason kids dress for June during the coldest months of the year.

No coat, no gloves, no hat, no boats? No problem in their world.

Today's kids are literally chilling out in their dress, much to the dismay of many parents and grandparents.

Many, many, many years ago, I was a teenager. I wouldn't dream of going out the door after Dec. 1 without gloves, hat, scarf and winter coat unless I wanted that dream to turn into a instant nightmare.

My mother would have killed me! Since she was my bus driver, it didn't do me any good to try to sneak out without the winter garb. She would have caught me. And, if she didn't, someone else in town would have been more than happy to let her know that I was running around bareheaded! Yep, it sucked growing up in a small town!

I survived my teen years and eventually, I became the lucky momma of four little people who grew up to be rambunctious teens who, amazingly, always wore their hats and coats, even if it wasn't cool. I must have done something right because they are raising their children the same way ... even teaching them the trick of sliding the hat, gloves and neck scarf into their coat sleeves for safe keeping!

However, today's young'ns find numerous excuses to chill out:?coats are too bulky, hats are itchy, I lost my gloves ... the list goes on and on!

Is it a health issue to journey into the cold without proper attire?

It could be according to a recent story I read where the experts said most teens just don't want to be considered nerds.

Carleton Kendrick of Millis, Mass., a family therapist, says that for teens, ''wearing bulky winter coats, gloves, boots - unless teen girls consider them high fashion - and hats screams nerd, geek, baby, dork ... UNCOOL!''

He added: ''Short of real and present danger of your teens getting frostbite, let them deal with being cold to be cool.''

In Alaska, of course, the dangers of frostbite and hypothermia are real. ''Our teenagers are the same as everyone else's - they think they're Superman, they're invincible - but our weather is different,'' said Shelby Nelson, spokeswoman for Fairbanks Memorial Hospital. She said local media, schools, police and other officials work to get the message out to kids that dressing warmly is a matter of safety. Even a car ride can turn deadly if you break down and have to walk a mile in 20-below zero weather.

Some experts has noted that 'going off to school in 30 or 40 degree (above zero) weather with less than ideal coverings, is probably OK, as long as folks do not find themselves stuck outside for a long time at those temperatures.

And contrary to what some parents may think, Strauss said raging teen hormones do not raise body temperature. ''There is not any truth to that,'' he said.

I realize parents need to pick their battles but ultimately this may be one to choose.

Kids will go to extremes to wear their parents down. It is a way for them to have a little control over the lives as they head for independence from the parents.

But as one mother recently said, "It's our job as parents to make them responsible adults."

While girls may find some winter fashions like those chunky Ugg boots or knit hats appealing, Kevin Nadal, an assistant professor of psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, says ''boys at this stage are dealing with developing their masculinity. So in many ways, toughing it out by not wearing warm clothes may be a way for them to appear manly.''

Yet, frostbite is a "clear and present" danger for those who journey into cold temperatures without the proper attire. It is seen among people of all ages who are unprepared for extreme cold. Just going out to retrieve the paper in flip-flops and getting locked out in subzero temperatures can result in frostbite or hypothermia.

So, when considering the "geek factor" I still opt for warm winter clothing.

I think my options remain the same as when I was a teenager ... put them on or suffer the wrath of my momma which is possibly much worse than a case of frostbite!

Sedgmer may be reached at ksedgmer@timesleaderonline.com

 
 

 

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