This column should be shorter than normal in accordance with its subject: shorts. Were I in the textile manufacturing business, the last thing I’d want to be turning out today would be a garment that extends beyond the lower thigh.

Our children today are either extremely hot-natured or simply averse to any fabric that dares touch skin below the knee, and I have given up trying to force otherwise.

This seems mostly to be a boy thing. My high school senior daughter will routinely leave the house in jeans or leggings when the weather so dictates. If it’s really cold, she’ll even put on a sweater. Only if it’s pouring rain or threatening snow might she don one of a couple of North Face shells she has.

I can count the number of days Ayden has worn long pants to school this year on one hand, with fingers left over for pulling my hair. And it’s not just him. Pop over to pretty much any elementary, middle or high school. The vast majority of boys you see will be wearing shorts and probably sneakers with untied laces.

Here is how a basic winter morning wake-up conversation goes.

“Ayden, it’s 20 degrees outside. You’ll need to dress warmly.”

“I’ll wear a sweatshirt.”

“How about putting on some blue jeans too?

“I’ll be hot.”

Now, either we are super-heating our schools like greenhouses for all of our delicate flowers or these kids are born without genes for jeans. Or are they already being genetically modified for global warming? The folks in the corporate suite of Levi’s better take note.

British schoolboys for generations have popularized the everyday-shorts-to-school look, though it’s always been smartly accessorized with matching blazer and perhaps a rep tie in school colors. AC/DC lead guitarist Angus Young made it his go-to on-stage costume. It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock-and-roll, and it begins in short pants.

Of course, it’s not just long pants the kids eschew these days. Just try to get a child with a modicum of free will to wear a jacket or coat.

In the morning I drive by plenty of children — shivering in their shorts and T-shirts — standing in driveways waiting for the bus. You can tell if a parent prevailed because the child’s T-shirt might be long-sleeve. And if the parent threatened suspension of a mobile device, the child is wearing a sweater or sweatshirt.

But it could be snowing out and there’d be no difference. After the two January snows last year, Ayden went out in sneakers, shorts and a sweatshirt. We forced him to wear gloves, which we later found discarded in the yard. The snow pants and boots went untouched in the garage.

I haven’t bought my children a “good winter coat” in years. Nothing with a detachable hood in faux-fur trim, no goose-filled lining, no double zippers for extra warmth.

This past Christmas, my wife bought Ayden a pair of North Face snow boots. He had a pair when he was 5 and would wear them everywhere, regardless of the weather.

“He loved his last pair,” she said.

“He was 5,” I said. “He barely wears tennis shoes now.”

But there they were under the tree this year.

“Ayden, remember how much you liked those?” his mother said.

“I was 5.”

So I surrender. Do not call social services on me if you see my child shivering at his bus stop. The not-so-long and short of it is that he is who he is. If his and his peers’ style is to wear shorts and T-shirts as long as humanity allows, then so be it.

I can see him now as president of the United States giving his State of the Union speech, walking down the aisle of the House in his beautiful navy blue hand-sewn suit jacket, his perfectly starched spread-collar shirt, resplendent maroon tie and his crisply ironed Nike Play Dry athletic shorts.

I pray that his shoes will be tied.

Contact editor John Nagy at (910) 693-2507 or

(2) comments

Jim Tomashoff

If dress reflects character Kent would have to go around naked 24/7 because A) He has none, and B) His naked ambition to control everyone and everything is all encompassing.

Kent Misegades

Childhood is not a Democracy but life with parental rules including clothing. Kids get to choose how they dress once they are independent. Most private schools have dress codes that prevent such silliness. Adult dress is though largely 24/7 leisure wear as if this were Miami. Dress reflects character.

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