Shoehorning a Child into a Coat

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This week I have taken the innocent item that is the everyday coat, as my talking point. At least I thought coats were innocent.

It appears that coats are viewed by the majority of those born after 2010 as the enemy. This is not a prejudice viewpoint; there is an equal degree of anger triggered by denim, down, fleece, cotton and waterproof fabric. I’ve yet to try and squeeze my five year old into a PVC or fur coat but I think he’d object just as much to these fabrics too. And weather does not come into the equation either – a combination of sleet, snow and a wind speed that can flip a petrol tanker, will still be deemed as a reasonable environment for stepping out in a school T-shirt, and neglecting all forms of jacket.

For those who have yet to endure the scale of a coat meltdown, the degree of devastation cannot be underestimated: this is trauma at its most severe.

Here’s a common example:

Adult: please will you put your coat on?

PAUSE. REPEAT TIMES SIX.

CHILD COLLAPSES ONTO FLOOR AND CRIES SO HARD THEY CAN’T BREATHE IN (FOR LONG ENOUGH TO GO BLUE), THEN SCREAMS AT THE SAME MAGNITUDE THEY WOULD IF THEY WERE BEING EATEN BY A BEAR.

I have accumulated sufficient answers to be able to fill a book called ‘Reasons I hate my coat’ – my favourite to date being “because it’s warm”.

I look around and I am not alone. A sea of small people removing coats as if in a coat-removing-competition – within seconds of going through the school gates.

I live in awe of the parents of the kids who at least start with a coat in-situ. I’ve picked their brains:

“How do you get her coat on?”

“Shoehorn. And bribery.”

On the way out of the school gates one snowy morning (which weirdly was only three weeks ago), I passed a mum running in late, with a duffle coat under her arm. She looked like she’s just done a shift in A & E.

“Coat gate?” I ask.

“Yes – for the last 45 minutes.” She replies.

I feel her pain.

I refuse to buy requested toys and it’s accepted. I say no to another ice cream and it’s fine. I ask my son to put a jacket on when it’s cold outside and I am viewed as Satan. To kids, parents who insist on coats are the equivalent of what Jeremy Hunt is to NHS workers: we ruin their lives.

I ask the question (pointlessly):

“Do you think I’m asking you to wear a coat because I want to cause you pain and distress, or because I’m trying to look after you?”

An incoherent answer is accompanied by a snot and tear shower.

Most people love summer because of the sunshine, heat, beer gardens, ice cream vans, BBQs,  sprinklers and playing out. I love summer because I don’t have to force feed two arms and a torso into a coat every morning, whilst trying to dodge uppercuts and verbal abuse.

Hurrah for pending June and its natural heat.

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