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Dressing For Success


As I look at my seven year old son, I worry for his future. You see he's standing in front of me, dressed in swim trunks, mismatched shoes (that are also on the wrong feet), an "I Do All My Own Stunts" T-shirt, and a ski parka.

It's the ski parka that concerns me. It's the middle of summer. And we're in Bakersfield. I know it's a "dry heat" and everything, but 104 degrees of skin-blistering, and buckets-of-perspiration inducing "dry" heat is still "heat." And what's so disturbing to me is that when given the instruction to get dressed because we're going out for lunch, my son, who's already been outside that day to experience a blast of heat capable of reducing us all into puddles of liquid humanity, thinks, "oh, I'd better put on my winter coat." We barely need a winter coat in the middle of January, much less in the midst of a Bakersfield summer.

I can't help but feel a rush of concern as I look at my handsome, intelligent, wonderful son zipping up a ski parka in Bakersfield...
Maybe I'm getting all worked up over nothing. After all, I've noticed that most young kids don't seem to be able to tell the difference between the sweltering Central Valley 100+ degree summer heat and the bitter (by Bakersfield standards) 40 degree winter cold that sends adults racing to the thermostat, adjusting and tapping furiously to achieve that elusive "perfect" temperature. Most kids just seem to go in the opposite direction of Mother Nature when it comes to choosing their outfit for the day; if they see the waves of heat rising from the asphalt they think "ski parka." And if they see the dog shivering pitifully, standing beside a water dish covered with a thin layer of ice, they think, "barefoot."

But even though I know this is a typical "kid thing," this inability to connect the actual outdoor environment to a sensible choice in wardrobe, I can't help but feel a rush of concern as I look at my handsome, intelligent, wonderful son zipping up a ski parka in Bakersfield, in the middle of summer. If he ignores the signs telling the rest of Kern County to dress lightly, will he be able to use the good sense God gave him to not stick his hand in a burning flame, not eat the silicone packet labeled "Poison – Do Not Eat"? Will he be able to say no to drugs and listen to that little voice telling him it's not a good idea to jump off a cliff or play chicken with a train? And what about those uncovered electrical outlets that are sure to be in his college dorm room…will he know not to stick his finger or a sharp metal object in them? These are the thoughts that keep me awake at night.

I think I'd feel a lot better if I knew what wardrobe choices successful men made when they were young. Did Bill Gates bundle up when it was 100+ degrees outside? And Abraham Lincoln; when he was seven, did he try to run out barefoot when there was 10 feet of snow on the ground? These guys did OK for themselves.

All I can do is slide the parka from the slender arms of my son and hope that his ability to differentiate heat from cold and translate it into appropriate wardrobe choices kicks in soon. Other-wise, he'll be calling one of his college roomies "Mommy."

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