The Right Stuff

IMG_20140106_154109It started with a knitted pale pink hat with a pompom. How I hated that stupid pink pompom. On top of that, NO ONE wore hats at school, and especially not homemade pink ones with pompoms. They all wore earmuffs or headbands from Zellers. I ripped that thing off as soon as I could, and let my ears freeze before I’d let anyone see me wearing that handmade monstrosity.

And snowpants? Well, as soon as it was up to me, those were gone too. I don’t think I donned a pair at any point between my early teen years and my mid thirties. Who would be caught dead wearing snowpants?

backpackAnd my backpack? Well, that obviously had to be worn slung over one shoulder. It didn’t matter how many heavy textbooks were crammed in there, a two-shouldered backpack carry was simply not acceptable, not in my school (or at least not in my interpretation of the “rules” of teenage image preservation.)

As a nerdy, fashion-backward child and teen (oh fine, adult too), I struggled to fit in. But certain things appeared to be bare minimum standards which I had to follow in order to avoid excessive teasing. Who knows why these particular rules were established, and where they started?

—Fast forward twenty years—-IMG_20140116_104542

I have been taking my older son to school for six years now, and my younger for one. It is a twenty-minute walk, and sometimes twenty five or thirty when walking with the tiny, whiny one. Living in Canada, our temperatures can reach -35C with windchill some days. Needless to say, jeans don’t cut it. My children have always been properly equipped with full snowsuits, hats, mitts, neck warmers and boots. They’re too small to fight me on these details.

I, on the other hand, had been freezing my tail off for years, when I finally noticed:

Another mother at the school.

A bastion of common sense in a sea of nylons and skinny jeans.

A mom wearing snowpants.

Thank you, snowpants mom.


Now I have warm snowpants, an assortment of knitted hats (I still don’t like pink, but I do recognize that pompoms are quite popular now), and, when necessary, a backpack firmly secured on both shoulders (thank you very much). It took twenty years. Twenty stupid, stubborn years.

As I started thinking about writing this post this morning, ice covered the ground in a slick dark sheet, cancelling all school bus routes. (At the moment, I’m watching a car outside my window spinning its tires and sliding backwards down the street.) So this morning, I pulled on my sensible outdoor gear, and I added a pair of Yaktrax to my boots (which my mother had bought for my husband a few years ago but we had promptly forgotten in the closet). I clomped confidently past all the stumbling, slipping and tumbling parents and kids. (No, seriously…you need a pair of these: Thank you, mom.

Without proper attire in cold or wet or slippery weather, walking to school can be downright unpleasant.

But really, all you need is the right stuff!

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, just unsuitable clothing” – Alfred Wainwright

Also, please share with me (in the comments below) any ridiculous fashion rules from your youth. We can all laugh at ourselves together.


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One Response to The Right Stuff

  1. Amy says:

    My daughter has a thirty minute walk to school so in the winter I force her to wear snowpants. She doesn’t like wearing them, but since she’s only 13 I make the calls. If I’m going to be outside for a while you better believe I’m also pulling on my snowpants. I always layer a knee length down coat under my ankle length parka, so that along with my high Sorels saves me from having to wear snowpants on my daily commute.

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