The “one kid who wears shorts to school all year”: In regions that get cold and snowy in the winter, he’s a figure that’s equal parts familiar and bewildering to kids and teachers alike, and his clothing choices present an annual hassle for his parents. On Twitter, where Lindsey Miller once joked about the middle-school winter-shorts boy, he is in fact the butt of a number of observational jokes, many of them from classmates and beleaguered moms and dads: “There’s really this dude wearing shorts at school… IN THE WINTER.” “Have kids so you can argue with tiny, opinionated people about why they can’t wear shorts in winter and then coats when it’s 80 degrees.” Educators at a middle school and high school in Minnesota confirmed to me that they can count on having two or three of him every year, arriving at school after braving the morning windchill with bare calves. (In the interest of transparency, both were former teachers of mine, who I’m sure were perplexed to hear from me for the first time in more than a decade only to be asked about this.)
In other words, the Boy Who Wears Shorts All Winter is a highly recognizable but largely inscrutable character, and when I asked parents, teachers, child psychologists, and a former B.W.W.S.A.W. himself to try to explain what exactly motivates such a plainly impractical clothing choice, they all offered different answers.
A common belief among parents is that some kids just “run hot,” or get less uncomfortable in cold temperatures than other people do. One mother in the Midlands region of the U.K. told me that her 8-year-old son must be “hot-blooded,” because he insists on wearing shorts to school even when it’s below freezing outside, claiming he “doesn’t feel the cold.” One of the educators I spoke with in Minnesota told me that when she asks her students why they’ve made shorts their winter uniform, the response she typically gets is just a shrug and an “I’m not cold.”