When I was in college, I was notorious for walking around in the winter time wearing shorts, sandals, and a t-shirt. Hey, I was from Vermont! 40 wasn’t cold! Come on, wimps! It drove my voice teacher crazy, and he gave me some good advice/knowledge that completely changed my mind on coat-wearing, even if I was only walking a few blocks. I was walking with my friend Mecca the other day, and she was, like my voice teacher of old, trying unsuccessfully to get a young man in her care to put a coat on in the frigid weather, even though he was totally not cold. I told them what was told to me, and she seemed to appreciate some actual science to go along with the classic “because you’re making ME cold just looking at you!” Since she was happy to have this ammo in the neverending battle between parents and children, I will now pass this information on to you, so that you too can force your kids to wear coats.
You may not be cold. I am not asking you to put on a coat because you are cold. I am asking you to put a coat on because it is cold. Our bodies, like anything else, take a while to adjust to temperature change. You don’t touch a hot pan, even when it has been off the burner for a few minutes, because it is still retaining some of that heat. This is why you can run out to get the mail in you boxer shorts and slippers in below freezing temperatures and then run back in without immediately freezing to death. A few seconds is not going to kill you. But as you stay out in the colder weather, your body is going to have to work harder and harder to retain that heat and keep you warm.
Look, your body only has so much energy. I know you feel all invincible and stuff, and this is because you have a nice, young body that can still do things like cartwheels and x-treme 4-square, but just because you have more energy does not mean that you have infinite energy. Yeah, you might not be cold, but that is because your body is working overtime trying keep you warm. And when your body’s resources are all focused on that one thing, they are not as effective at, oh, you know, fighting germs. Do you want to catch your death of cold out there?!
No, the cold weather does not give you a cold. But you are much more susceptible to one when your defenses are down because you spent fifteen minutes out in 40 degree weather with no coat on walking around like you were some kind of hot
shi… lava monster. You not being cold just means that your body was successfully able to use up all of its resources to keep you warm. It doesn’t mean that it isn’t cold out. And now you are probably going to catch pneumonia and die. Or at least be in bed and miserable for a time, probably Christmas morning.
So parents, when your kids whine that they don’t want to put a coat on because they are not cold, use this information. The kids will not care, because they are kids, but at least you can sleep better at night knowing that there is a better reason for forcing your children to do something they hate than “because I said so.” Science!