Kids have an amazing capacity to learn new tricks. They don’t allow themselves to get very cold or hungry or lost more than once without pretty good reasons.
One very good reason, of course, is to get under the skin of a parent who is a hijacker.
When, on frosty mornings, I see kids on their way to school without their jackets, I imagine the sort of conversations that occurred on their way out the door. For example….
Interior. Morning. Kitchen. An eleven year old boy runs a piece of bread around the rim of a jelly jar and chews thoughtfully, having decided toast is too much trouble.
From another room we hear an adult voice: Are you wearing your jacket?
There is silence in the kitchen. The adult speaks louder: Are you WEARING your JACKET!
The boy speaks, his mouth full of bread: Snot Cold!
Adult: What? I said, are you wearing your jacket?
Silence in the kitchen. After a moment the adult hollers: ANSWER ME!
The boy glances up at the clock. Indeed, he is not cold at this moment. He is, however, tired of being yelled at from another room—though he is not about to venture from the relative safety of the kitchen, at least not voluntarily, to find out what the hollering is about. In an instant the boy decides he will placate the one in the other room but, for reasons he hardly understands, he will not satisfy her. His voice rises with the patronizing tone he will use again some fifty years in the future to explain to his mother why she must eat her strained vegetables: Mom, it’s too hot to wear my jacket in here. Don’t worry about it.
With that, the boy dips his finger in the jelly, rubs it on another piece of bread which he folds neatly in half, walks past his jacket and out the door into the cold, clear day of his youth.
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