If 19-year-old me knew what 42-year-old me knows, I wouldn’t have spent those girls nights out in college freezing my nipples off. My mindset back then apparently was one of a middle schooler – no jacket required in subarctic temperatures. There are no official stats for my parental wins (and losses) this school year, but so far, my middle schooler did wear his jacket into the school building definitely one morning – possibly two – absolutely no more times than I can count on both my mittens.

In fairness, my middle schooler will oblige me and wear his coat while helping to clear snow and scrape sheets of ice off the car windows; my middle schooler will wear the jacket on the ride to his day of learning. But once on school grounds, the jacket gets tossed into the backseat and this multi-layer-puffy-coated mom sitting in the driver’s seat wonders how her Greek-mom-guilt-trip infused speech of, “You’re playing chicken with getting pneumonia,” failed. Maybe I just need to step-up my game and be more helicopter-ish; maybe I should follow my son to the main entrance waving his jacket in the air alerting him in my non-indoor-voice, “Tha Kriosis!” (“You’ll get cold!”).

I never knew how world-ending it was for middle schoolers to have their peers find out they owned a jacket; I guess it’s equivalent to how college girls feel about guys seeing them going into the club with a coat on…H to the E to the double L – oh, hell no!

It was below freezing and there was club-going me in a tube top and no coat. I was cold and would admit it. It’s below freezing and here is my school-bound preteen in a hoodie denying the subarctic blast of air hitting his face that is producing the visible exhalation of his breathe.

No gripe with hoodies; no disrespect – I love hoodies. I love them so much I custom-made one to let my hoodie have a, “Tom-Cruise-on-The-Oprah-Winfrey-Show” moment, though my hoodie’s proclamation of love isn’t for Katie Holmes.

Don’t think me a slut, but my hoodie’s declaration of love is for three men. Front side: Eddie, Chris, Dierks; Vedder, Cornell, Bentley have my back(side). Yes, my “Tom Cruise” moment is for the first three singer-songwriters that qualified for hoodie-status in my wardrobe. Their music? So damn good. What’s not so good? My defense argument if my son finds out I wore a tube top sans a coat in subarctic temps to the club.

In the event he one day reads this and the justified interrogation begins of why it was okay for me to do something and not okay for him to, I’mma break it down like this: “Do as I say, not as I did.”

Just kidding; I won’t rest my case on that parental jargon; a mom’s tube top-wearing college days are going head-to-head with her preteen’s hoodie-wearing middle school days…

The Tube Top in Subarctic Temps Vs. The Hoodie in Subarctic Temps

1. Quantity (not quality). The hoodie wins the point in this category, for the obvious reason of it having more fabric than a tube top. The former leaves no skin exposed – arms, neck and head, included – hell, a hoodie can even keep a good hair day intact. (Mom vs. Son: 0–1)
2. Cost. I haven’t been to the clubs in a couple of decades, but I think tube tops are still a thing. Back in the Mesozoic Era, when I roamed on Lansdowne Street, I’m certain there were tube tops of high price, but those weren’t the ones in my closet. Most definitely, my tube tops, combined, cost less than one of my preteen’s hoodies. (Mom vs. Son: 1-1)
3. Likelihood to Catch a Cold. From childhood through adulthood, a Greek mother will eternally forewarn her children about catching a cold from cold air. This Greek-mom-guilt-trip is as ubiquitous as the name, Nick. For the catching-a-cold factor, and to avoid getting the ‘pantufla’ (the slipper), the tube top and hoodie both lose out; no point given to either side. (Score remains even at 1-1)
4. Age. Tube top-wearing, club-going me was 19; hoodie-wearing, school-bound son is 12. Based on that, older should’ve been wiser. Before point distribution, which clearly goes to my son, here’s my rebuttal: I wasn’t wearing a jacket over my tube top, but I also wasn’t really drinking – if I had been, it would’ve felt a lot less like I was freezing my nipples off. For the smart decision made to remain sober so I could get myself home safely from the clubs – Point! (Mom vs. Son: 2-2)
5. The In-Full-Disclosure Factor. My tween layers his hoodie – the pick-of-the-day NFL jersey is worn over his hoodie. I didn’t layer my tube top with anything and back then my locks weren’t as long as they are now, so I can’t even make the dumb argument that long hair draped over my shoulders was keeping me warm. (Mom vs. Son: 2-3)
6. The “Mom” Factor. Moms are always right. (Final Score: Mom vs. Son: 3-3)

That last point pretty much trumps everything else, but I’ll still admit to my son that my going clubbing in a tube top and no coat, when the thermometer failed to rise above the freezing point, was not a smart decision. And even though I remain mystified every New England winter morning he walks into his middle school without a coat on, I do breathe a sigh of relief that my boy wears pants to school. That parental struggle is real for far too many – the dual war waged of: (1) put on a coat and (2) NO SHORTS.

Winter morning school drop-offs…I verbalize my gratitude to my son; I thank him for wearing pants and I thank him for helping me scrape the ice off the car windows. And as my son gets out of the car, I tell my hoodie-football jersey-Bruins winter hat-pants not shorts-wearing middle schooler, “I love you,” all the while ensuring my proclamation of love is nowhere near, “Tom-Cruise-on-The-Oprah-Winfrey-Show” status.


About the author: Suzanna Parpos works in the field of education. She is a former newspaper columnist with compilations of her columns featured in her books: “A Year on Route 30: One Mom’s Collection of Essays” and “Awakening the Blank Canvas: A Collection of Essays Continues.” Suzanna lives in Framingham, Massachusetts, where she is known for the moon-shaped Greek cookies she bakes and delivers around the city, while wearing stilettos and her camouflage Red Sox baseball hat. Visit her site: www.suzannaparpos.com.


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