Among the great spectacles of winter, along with the Northern Lights and frozen lakes, are coatless kids.
No coat, no gloves? No prob! Many teens and tweens are chillin' in their sweatshirts and kicks. Maybe a boy will accessorize with a baseball cap, and a girl might choose stylish boots - but nothing weatherproof, please! Some boys even wear shorts year-round.
One is Jack Rogers, 12, of Fishers, Ind. "I know lots of kids who do that," he said, still the universal excuse for dubious child behavior. His grandmother doesn't understand. "It's 15 degrees. Why doesn't he have a coat on him?" she asked.
"I told her I have to pick and choose my battles," recalled Jack's mom, Shelley Rogers Landes. "I need to let him make decisions that really are inconsequential at the end of the day."
Jack explained: "Coats are just a hassle, putting it all on. It makes me bulky. I just like to be in short sleeves."
Carleton Kendrick of Millis, Mass., a family therapist, says that for teens, "wearing bulky winter coats, gloves, boots - unless teen girls consider them high fashion - and hats screams nerd, geek, baby, dork . . . UNCOOL!" He added: "Short of real and present danger of your teens getting frostbite, let them deal with being cold to be cool."
In Alaska, of course, the dangers of frostbite and hypothermia are real. Contrary to what some may think, Dr. Art Strauss, an emergency room physician at Fairbanks Memorial, said, raging teen hormones do not raise body temperature. "There is not any truth to that," he said.
Kevin Nadal of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York said: "Boys at this stage are dealing with developing their masculinity. Toughing it out by not wearing warm enough clothes may be a way for them to appear manly."