Flasback: Winter, 1982-ish

On this 15-degree morning, when I dropped my boys off at school, I ordered our seventh grader to pull on his coat. He had chosen to wear shorts and a short-sleeved shirt, and was not planning to wear a coat until I marched him back inside to get it. As his mother, I told him, his poor judgment would reflect badly on me.

“You’re putting that coat on before you get out of the car.”

Driving away, amused by the common middle school boy rejection of long pants, a memory came to me of one winter day a long time ago. My friend wasn’t feeling well during our school day, and I had the honor of walking her to the nurse’s office. Mrs. Queen’s office was in another building, so it offered a change of scenery, a break from class, and public recognition that I was a good enough friend to the ailing student to be the one selected to accompany her.

I never got to know Mrs. Queen as well as some of my friends, though, because I was never sick. I just escorted the sick people to her, and I found her intimidating. I guess that’s why this winter memory stands out.

We walked into her office and announced our reason for being there. It smelled like antiseptic and band-aids.

Rather than address my ailing friend, Mrs. Queen peered down at me.

“Zip up that coat, young lady. Are you trying to get sick?!”

My friend ended up being sent home with a fever, and I, perfectly healthy, zipped my coat and returned to class, unaware that this would be a memory that shaped how I parent my seventh grade son.

 

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