“Everybody try to help me get Alex wear his winter coat!”
On this last Saturday before Christmas Eve, the temp has dropped about 15 degrees from mid-week. There’s a brisk northeast wind, and all day the mercury never topped 40. The clouds look like flurries, and as darkness settles Alex prepares to head out for a few hours with his res-hab worker Marla.
“Alex, when you go out tonight you have to wear your new winter coat.”
“Winter coat,” he says.
“Your new winter coat. Okay?”
“Okay?” I can tell that he means the word as the question.
I try the trick of putting his hand to the open window to feel the cold. “See, Alex? Just slip it on.” It’s a trim down parka from Lands’ End. There are little holes for thumb and fingers to make sure the sleeves stay down in those white powder downhill sledding runs that Alex – who, ironically, hates cold – will never choose to take. Jill got one cost in blue and one in grey.
We’re trying the blue one on Alex. “Just slip it on, Alex. Look in the mirror and see how you look!” He even zips it up, looks in the mirror and giggles and giggles, then slides out of it again and reaches for his autumn hoody. I think of all the street people through the years wander in down greatcoats in late April.
Alex will shift coats eventually. He’s worn T’s in summers, hoodies in fall and spring, and puffy down coats in winter (looking like a brown grenade). But Alex is a slippery customer when it comes to outerwear in those first days of change.
“I’m been having trouble getting him to wear his winter coat,” I tell Jill. “Where is he?” she says. “Alex, let’s go!” She wrangles him into the coat and then in front of the mirror.
“Stylin’!” she says. I’ve never heard her say that before. “Good job, Alex!” she says. “Zip it up!”
“I’m been having trouble getting him to wear his winter coat,” I tell Marla.
“It’s cold out, Alex,” Marla says. “It’s windy and cold out. Why are you giving daddy a hard time with this?” Alex starts coughing. He sometimes coughs when asked to do something he doesn’t want to do. “You get outside you’ll be glad you have it on,” Marla says. I tell Alex to go into his bedroom and get the red backpack he wears on outings with Marla. She blocks him.
“I’m not sending him in that room again,” she says to me, “or he’ll change that coat.”
I find him with the coat on and his familiar orange hoodie on underneath. His version of compromise. Alex waddles toward our front door, looking left and right. This isn’t right, he seems to say. This definitely isn’t right.
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