It all started in Florence. Running along a street on a very warm very Italian January morning, I got a bit cold, and so I rushed into a store to get a cheap something to put over my pullover. And there it was, a very nice grey zip-up hoodie with a fake-fur hood and a pretty design, stylized roses and butterflies on one side and (what I saw as) blue sky on the other side. And the reduced price was only 8 euros. So I happily grabbed it, put it on and ran along on my route. When I came home, I had to wait for the warm spring until I could wear my new top outside; young women would glance at it with obvious appreciation or even envy in their eyes, and my acquaintances commented on how pretty it was. It was also warm and comfortable, with large pockets, and it’s long enough to cover all the places that need to be covered when you are not 18 anymore. Well, time passed, and I happened to mention it to one of my kids, thinking they might want a similar one to add to their collection. I took a photo as instructed and emailed it… “Mom, why did you buy a hoodie with a skull on it?!” Huh? Where’s the skull? “That blue design!” I stared and stared, and dimly perceived that indeed what I saw as the blue sky might actually be a skull, sort of. Maybe. Yet nobody noticed it, nobody commented on it. And it still looks pretty. So I think I should continue wearing it in season. After all, it comes under the heading of what I mentally dubbed “My Grandma’s Law”: if you feel OK about it, if you can pull it off, wear it. My own rule is even simpler: don’t tell anybody and nobody will notice.
Naturally the experience led me thinking about the different ways we perceive things. Our children who are young and knowledgeable about modern trends in fashion see what they know to be true. So they see the skull where it is or isn’t as the case may be. We take a look at something, anything, and fancy it because it is fashionable or trendy or outrageous but because it is comfortable, warm and it makes us look younger or slimmer or just fine. So when our children astonish us with their utterances, especially of the “You did this wrong when I was a child!” variety, perhaps we should not react or try to prove anything to them. After all, they always know better, but we know how it really was. We are the ones who remember them since day 1, and we are the ones who tried to do the best we could for them. We are also the ones who loved them even before they were born.