Wednesday, December 9, 2009

No bad weather, just bad clothes

That is a loosely translated and very popular saying in Sweden.

The weather here sucks this time of year (Who am I kidding? It sucks most of the year). Imagine dropping your child off at preschool in darkness and picking him up at 2:50pm as darkness decends again. Add to that a whole month of perpetually gray skies with 1.5 days of sunlight. And to make matters worse, winter is trying to come but not yet here. Where's the snow?

Dressing my son every morning for school is a fight. But the fight is between me and myself. And I seem to get it wrong nearly every morning, evidenced by the fact that his schoolmates are dressed completely different.

They must think I'm a real tool. "They" being the teachers and parents.

Let's review the list of Swedish clothing shall we? Then perhaps you can begin to understand my panic.
- Wet pants: These plastic, completely water retardent rain pants with easy-snap suspenders go on top of everything from normal pants to snowsuits. Recommended weather situations (RWS): rain, wet snow, dampness, chance of mud
- Wet jacket: Again plastic, water retardent jacket that goes on top of shirts, jackets or snowsuits. RWS: rain
- Wet warm pants: Not plastic but water resistent and slightly insulated and go on top of pants. RWS: dampness, slight chill in the air but mainly dry. Anywhere from +5 to 15.
- Fall/Spring jacket: Likely made of warmish material (can't think of the word but there is one). Right: FLEECE! RWS: Anywhere from +5 to 15?
-Winter snow pants & winter jacket: Not recommended for school use due to increased level of difficulty in applying two pieces of winter gear vs. one.
- Winter overall (aka, the snowsuit): Made of some miracle material that is water resistent, not incredibly bulky, easy to maneuver in, warm and easy for child to apply. RWS: snow, cold, dry, from -whatever to +5? this is the tricky one for me.
- Fall overall: I have not confirmed the existence of this ensemble as of yet. Even with strenuous observation of schoolyard children, I cannot decipher between this one and the winter overall. But if it does exist, I assume it's worn in temps ranging from 0-7ish?
- Winter boots: I don't have to explain this one. RWS: Winter, from -whatever to +5.
- Rain boots: Self-explanatory. RWS: all-season really, temps permitting, except for summer.
- Rain mits: These are an unusual specimen. With a plastic outer shell and a fleece lining, these babies are long and meant to almost go up the elbows. RWS: Rain, from +7-10?
- Winter mits: Self-explanatory. Caution: Must have water retardent shell and be heavily lined. The ones Grandma knit will not do under any circumstances.
- Fall hat: Another unusual speciment. Made of cotton and thin, these head coverings will not overheat like a winter hat but keep little heads a bit warmer on cool Spring and Fall days.
- Winter hat: Again, water retardent is good. No Grandma knit hats accepted.
- Rain hat: Like a sou'wester. Made of plastic. RWS: Torrential downpour
- Misc: I am convinced astronauts can see Swedish children from space. Every piece of outdoor clothing is plastered with photo-unfriendly reflective material. Arm bands, leg bands, hood bands, pocket bands. Stripes of shiny material shout from outdoor clothing announcing said child to anyone within a 5km radius. And if your reflective material has been worn away from wash and wear? No worries. They have portable pieces that easily attach. Then there are the neon-coloured vests that adults and children don when on group outings or riding bicycles. Safety First.

Geez, that was exhausting and exhaustive. Maybe I'll get beter at this dressing-my-child-thing now that I've actually prepared a handy reference list for myself. Here's the deal folks: The kids are outside playing for the better portion of the day. Like the postal worker, "not rain, not wind, not sleet, not snow" will keep a child from the outdoors. So, the onus is on us parents to ensure our children are equipped for any weather situation that might arise. And that part's not so different from home now is it? Except that you should won't find a teacher saying, "Oh it's raining, we'll keep the kids in today." Not-a-chance.

I become a weather woman every morning. I check online. I test the great outdoors with a finger in the air. I try to account for the minimum and maximum projected temps that day, etc. So when the temp dropped to -7 last week and I had no snowsuit for the little man, I must've clothed him in 3 layers (seriously pissing off the teachers would have to help him in and out of these layers). And then I high-tailed it to the store for an insanely priced winter overall. He was ready to go the next day. And then the temps crept back up to +4. Now what to do? I had already made the switch. Do I switch back? Does the fall overall really exist? Do I embarass myself further by inquiring about clothing AGAIN?

A Swedish Mother I am NOT.


septembermom said...

Here in NY, my kids got a snow day from school due to only 4 inches of snow (26 degrees). I wonder what Swedish parents would think of that!

SwedishJenn said...

They would laugh. Seriously. They would laugh. I don't think snow days exist here. But they might. Instead the kids get an insane amount of holidays.

Den said...

OMG! Jenn, I'm knackered just reading all these clothing possibilities! How bonkers?!! But I DO love the saying 'no bad weather just bad clothes'! I think the Montenegrins would appreciate that with their obsession with draughts etc... Keep smiling hun!