Brendan Sweeney

Washington DC

Before January 2014, if you asked me about the clothing items that had deep personal meaning to me, I probably would have talked about old music tees and hoodies that connect my adult-self to my teenage punk rock days. But the most important and meaningful article of clothing in my family right now belongs to my 4-year-old son, Liam.

Last year, he was diagnosed with asthma. It’s triggered by seasonal allergies and winter colds that just don’t seem to go away on their own. So his allergist recommended that he spend the entire winter with a balaclava.

It’s a relatively cheap article of clothing (you can spend more than $40 on some kids’ ski masks, but we opted to buy a generic adult’s mask for half that). He loves it because it makes him look like a ninja. And so far it has worked out pretty well.

But it’s also become a sort of focal point for my parenting neuroses. If I forget it, I feel so incredibly guilty, like I am letting him down and inviting calamity. Which is absurd. It’s just a piece of cloth that keeps the air going into his lungs slightly warmer than it otherwise would be.

But parenting a kid with asthma involves so many variables that are out of your control. I can’t help it that it’s freezing outside. I can’t help it that his daycare is a petri dish of coughs and colds. But I CAN make sure he goes out with this one item of clothing, which might just help a little bit.

Originally posted on The Kojo Nnamdi Show Blog on occasion of the Worn Stories segment, available here:

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