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Coping With Different Family Thermostats

Weather is a fickle friend.  One day the sun bathes us with warmth, the next, we are cast into a cruel, shivering, bitter cold which sets our teeth to chatter mode.  The fact that none of us can control our arbitrary atmosphere makes matters all the more frustrating. Resentful of their outdoor plight, humans turned their focus to a climate that they can regulate, and so began our never ending battle for thermostat supremacy.

Raised in northern conditions, I was once quite comfortable with winter chills. Born to parents of modest means, heat was somewhat of a rumor in our home. Outfitted with medieval era, cast iron radiators, one could confidently hang meat in our house with no chance of spoilage.

Picture, if you will, a brisk January night when my bed wear would include two pairs of socks (a pair for my feet and a pair for my hands), and a woolen hat for my head, under three levels of blankets. When the radiators were turned up, a chorus of hisses and clangs would echo through our abode, resembling an old steam engine chugging into the station.  Our kitchen radiator (the best heat in the house) sputtered and wheezed as if we had warehoused an asthmatic family member under the stove, adding a breathy beat to the clamorous symphony. Despite the rumpus ringing in my home, I slept deeply, without stirring, without complaint.

Conversely, temperature is almost always a point of contention inside my RoanokeCity residence. Seconds following the first leaf drifting from our Japanese maples, my wife Janet begins her seasonal lament, cursing winter and damning the cold. As spring turns to summer, our roles reverse. Cranky, sweaty and no day at the beach (I hate those too), summers, to me, feel like a vacation at a prisoner of war camp.  Janet loves slumbering under a thin top sheet, crickets chirping through an open window. I prefer air conditioning, gently breezing across my comfy blanket. However, our extreme offspring Will, opts for arctic-like conditions year-around and could hold dogsled races in his room on any given date.

Janet and I have been operating under a temperature truce for the past few years. She gives a little and I give a little and we both whine a little to our frozen son who pretends to listen.  Several years ago, I somehow touched the thermostat, although I still cannot remember the details of the crime.  The next morning our home was a balmy eighty-six degrees, inspiring a scrum among the dogs as they battled for position alongside the water bowl.  Was this a subconscious attempt to circumvent the indoor forecast?  Had I gone outside the lines in hopes of compensating for those frigid days of my childhood?

In an effort to balance our artificial heat wave, Janet adjusted the temperature gauge and restored us to DEFCOM One.  Eskimo Will, smoldering throughout the ordeal, returned to his ice palace, puffing a refrigerated sigh of relief

Winter is here, and soon Janet and I will be traveling to Pittsburgh to watch Will play February baseball. There is nothing like a damp, overcast day in Western Pennsylvania to remind me why I moved south. As his parents glaciate in the grand stands, our smiling kid thrives in the winter mist, reminding me of the tale about a young Polar Bear who keeps asking his father if he was adopted.  Despite his father’s assertions that his son was indeed a real Polar Bear, the cub continued to push the issue.  Frustrated, the father asked his son;

“Why do you think that you are not a real Polar Bear?  Your fur is white, you look like your mother and I, and you live in the Arctic!  What makes you think that you are not a Polar Bear”?

“Because I’M FREEZING!” replied the shivering cub.

My fear is that our boy might have been switched at birth by a family of arctic bears, and our real son is diving through the ice somewhere trying to catch a seal for dinner.

– Jon Kaufman

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