How have we failed our next generation?
Have we allowed them too many video games?
Do we restrict their freedom too much and not let them just be carefree and out there playing?
Will their inability to read cursive writing or tell time by an analogue clock put their lives in mortal danger someday?
Those are all valid questions. But there’s one place where I know I mis-stepped with my children.
They don’t use top sheets on their beds.
Apparently this is common amongst people of their age. Read one such person’s opinion here: For the love of good sleep, stop using a top sheet.
My children are young adults now so I don’t do their laundry anymore, but when they were younger, this drove me bonkers. On laundry day, I would find the top sheets either removed entirely or balled up at the foot of their bed. And washing a duvet cover is five thousand times more irritating than washing a simple sheet. (I’m not exaggerating there, right?)
I did’t understand why my children did this, and I thought it was a weird familial quirk. I would growl and grit me teeth and ask “Why? Where did I go wrong?
My friend has a theory that it’s because of the climate controlled comfort of our homes. She could have a point.
The farmhouse I lived in as a child had no central heating. My father, bless him, was first up in the morning. He lit the wood furnace and heated the lower floor while the rest of us — weighted down by layers of our grandmother’s quilts — watched our breath condense in the cold of air of our bedrooms upstairs. When he thought the house was warm enough, my father yelled up. My brothers and I would count, “1, 2, 3,” throw off the quilts and run as fast as we could from the frigid upstairs to the warmth below.
I grew up in a generation that needed layers for those winter nights, and the more the better. The top sheet (flannel in winter) was another much needed layer. And it protected the quilts, of which every stitch was sewn by hand.
On the flip side of that, without air conditioning the upper floor of our farmhouse could be suffocating on sweltering humid Ottawa Valley summer nights. The thin top sheet was all we could bear. It gave us the feeling of being covered without causing heat distress.
Even though the thermostat in the house I live in now is set to reduce automatically to a lower temperature at night, our home never reaches the biting cold of my old farmhouse on a winter night. And even though I’m not a fan of air conditioning and use it seldom, the times I do choose to use it are on the kind of sweltering hot days when a single top sheet for sleeping would be the choice.
As a result, for my children and others like them, the top sheet has become superfluous. They kick it off. Tra la la, I’m free.
Bonkers, it drives me.
But wait. To add insult to injury, my Facebook feed these days is filled with advertisements about weighted blankets. Some of these blankets promise that they have been “re-engineered” to guarantee sleep that will solve everything from ADHD to restless legs syndrome to my menopausal symptoms.
The same generation that kicks off their top sheets is now paying extra for the sensation that mounds of my grandmother’s quilts provided.
My grandmother never had to “re-engineer” her quilts.
As a parent, there are many things I would like to go back in time and do over. Some of those things “weightier” than others.
One thing I would rectify for sure would be the top sheet thing.
I would turn our furnace WAY down at night, load up their beds with quilts and not turn the heat back up in the morning until they had a good dose of watching their breath condense..