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Jillian Bolger: 'Who are all these super-kids that never need a coat?'


back to school girls

back to school girls

back to school girls

After an unseasonably warm and rather wonderful September, October has arrived with a dramatic and stormy entrance. Parents who, up until a week ago, were still doing the school run in sandals and short sleeves, have had to dig out the winter woollies over the weekend.

Most kids managed to get through a full month of school without wearing a coat, but October has decided to put an end to all that frivolity. Or so I thought.

It was 10 degrees outside this morning, which meant that, in the shade, things felt pretty nippy. Smothering with a cold I've decided I don't want to share with my house, I insisted all three of my kids put on their warm coats and zip them up fully.

No one complained at my request: once they felt that blast of cool air outdoors, the kids knew that wrapping up was a smart move.

Driving down Griffith Avenue, the tree-lined road was scattered with leaves and small branches following an especially stormy night.

The car took longer than usual to heat up and I needed little to convince the kids that autumn has well and truly arrived.

And then I spotted them. That rare breed of child who doesn't ever wear a coat. They seem to fall into three camps: the ones who complain that a coat is uncomfortable, making them feel bulky and restricted; the kind who looses everything and have parents convinced that a coat is one less thing to be responsible for; and the fashion-conscious kids who would rather get pneumonia than look like every other kid in the school.

With little personal experience of coat objectors I'm baffled at how many primary school kids are sent off to school in the autumn without suitable clothing (admittedly my eldest is a vest objector, which also baffles me. How could anyone object to an extra layer of cosiness when winter kicks in?).

I've seen kids standing in the yard in teeming rain without coats and wondered what on earth their parents were thinking. To my mind a coat in autumn is as necessary as putting on a pair of shoes.

When I was a primary school kid, my folks bought my thermal underwear to keep me cosy at the bus stop every morning.

Ear muffs

There were leg warmers and ear muffs too - though the latter were self-consciously whipped off once I spotted the bus coming around the corner.

The fact that I have cold at the moment maybe be heightening my sensitivity to the sudden temperature drop but I also know how frustrating it is to have sick kids at home, especially since the medical laws changed and we're not allowed to give over-the-counter cough medicines to children under the age of 6.

It's pretty hard to knock a child's cold on the head without sending them off to bed for a day or two, and I'm not sure teachers take kindly to classrooms full of snuffling, spluttering children.

Yet, just like the rare children who don't seem to feel the cold, everyone knows a child who never seems to get sick.

It's very possible these are the same children I see heading off to school without a jacket in sight.

If so, I want to know what their secret is. Are they tanked up on vitamin C or some kind of super food? Are they wearing layers of thermals and Under Armour beneath their uniforms? Or are they simply tougher than the majority, who are squeezed into vests and coats as soon as autumn hits?