Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
is editor and publisher of the Stanstead Journal.
Posted 03.05.02
Stanstead, Quebec


Get those pants on now!

You can feel it in the air: spring is around the corner. The snow banks have turned that sludgy grey-brown - the official symbol of Canadian renewal. Soggy dog turds are surfacing at the edges of the sidewalks. And throughout the land, parents are rubbing their hands in anticipation of winter's true end - no more snowpants.

I used to think that celebrating the shedding of snowpants was a ritual that only parents of pre-schoolers enjoyed. Understandably so since jamming squirming toddlers into snowsuits, pinning down their arms as you try to wrap a scarf across their hollering slobbering mouths, and then undressing them minutes later for the suddenly remembered pee-break is one of the banes of our northern existence.

So just before James entered pre-school a couple of years back, we figured our days of struggle were over. All three kids were now old enough to dress themselves and generally sensible enough to take care of their bodily functions before doing so. The only challenge left to face in the winter-wear department was getting the kids to hang up their drenched snowpants when they came back in.

Or so we thought. Now we find ourselves not fighting to get the kids into their snowpants but fighting to get them to wear them at all.

"Do we have to wear snowpants today?" is the morning routine throughout the winter, particularly this winter with its unusually temperate days.

"Yes!" Deb and I shout, almost automatically. It's the same automatic mechanism that has us shouting out "No!" to most other questions, such as "Can I have a treat?" "Can I watch TV?" and "Can I take a bucket of water and some food coloring up to my room?"

The kids' urge not to wear snowpants has been aggravated by the fact that somewhere along the way they stopped walking the short distance to school and I've ended up driving them. How this habit came about, I'm not sure. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that we're slow to get going in the morning in our house (the kids don't drink coffee yet), so we're usually late heading out the door. The children have figured out, I think, that if they leave the house late enough, a) I'll have to drive them so they arrive on time and b) they'll get to school with no time left to play outside before the bell rings. Thus, brilliant little schemers, they don't need to wear snowpants to school.

Much of the time, though, we insist they wear them. It's cold. They've been coughing. And because we said so.

"But none of the other kids wear them," Tears imminent.

"They're not our kids. You're wearing your snowpants."

"No," said Kate defiantly one morning. Another late morning. "I'm not wearing snowpants."

"Fine," I said. "Then I'm not driving you."

"Then I'll walk," she said.

"Well, if you walk, you have to wear your snowpants."

Stunned silence as the irrefutable logic of this sunk in.

Life, though, is full of compromise. Many mornings find us wearily agreeing to no snowpants in the morning (if they get us before we've had that coffee, it's not a fair fight). But they have to wear them at recess and coming home. And they know that we live close enough that we could be passing by any time for a spot-check. (Of course, we have to make sure we're properly bundled when we do so that we don't get that "But you're not dressed warmly enough!" retort from them.)

But soon, like the snow, this too shall pass. Spring is almost here. And before we know it, the kids will be asking, "Can we go in the pool?"