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Cold Weather Clothing Wars

"Mom, I look stupid! I am not wearing this. You are ruining my life!"

There's something about weather that brings mother-daughter clothing conflicts to a head. All of this seems vaguely familiar, despite my best intentions to not turn into my mother.

I can't believe this child thinks I'm destroying her fifth-grade social life by making her wear long sleeves and sweatpants. That's nothing compared to the plastic bread bags my mother made me wear.

It's true. My mom would wash the crumbs out of bread bags then make us wear them on our feet, with rubber bands at the top, to keep the snow from falling into our boots on winter days in Virginia. Trying to discreetly get those plastic bags off my feet and into my classroom cubby was one of the toughest assignments of my elementary school career.

Now here I am deep in déjà vu, listening to my 10-year-old daughter verbalize how I felt 35 years ago. She insists on wearing flip flops on weekends, even though she can see her breath in front of her face and car exhaust fumes are visible for the first time in frigid South Florida. She's not into the layering look, even though I've pointed out that it is so Selena Gomez.

She doesn't know what un-cool is. On top of bread bags over my feet, I was forced to wear mittens attached by a string that ran around my back and through my coat sleeves (so I wouldn't lose them). I owned only one pair of Levi's, which were the only acceptable pants if you wanted to be anybody at Sterling Middle School in 1977. Instead of Adidas SL-76ers, I was forced to wear sneaker knock-offs from Kmart. And the hats. On snow days, I had to wear these God-awful knit caps that flattened the hair to my skull and utterly destroyed the feathered wings I worked so hard to train and lay just right every morning.

I want to tell my daughter that I understand her pain. That I've been there. But I know she wouldn't understand. Instead, I reluctantly assume my mother role as Destroyer Of All That Is Cool. I firmly stick to my guns. Through the shouting and the tears, the long sleeves and sweatpants go on. And as I drive away from school this morning, I know they are being ripped off, balled up and shoved deep into a locker.

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