I feel I must join in the debate about the merits of short trousers for older boys.
Up until about twenty years ago it was not unusual for me to come across boys in their late teens who still wore short trousers. It is much more difficult today to encourage or indeed enforce such behaviour. Twenty or thirty years ago a community would see an older boy wearing grey flannel schoolboy shorts, or outside play shorts and think it was none of their business. Times have changed, possibly for the better possibly not but with the advent of social media and instant worldwide communications nothing remains "behind closed doors" anymore. Sometimes a boy would continue to wear short trousers merely because his youth was being extended beyond what was considered normal. Today we complain that children grow up too fast and mourn the loss of innocence in the very young, yet now we condemn as if it is some sort of child cruelty, a boy who wears short trousers past toddler age. When I was young, boys who were six foot tall would still be playing games outside wearing their short trousers. Indeed my own brother continued to wear shorts after he started work at the local Co-op for quite a few years. As long as they were presentable and still fitted, my mother saw no reason to purchase him longs. In my own experience I always expected any boy under my tutelage up to the age of at least twenty, to wear short, school boy style trousers during the day, especially when he was outdoors. Ironically, when he was safely ensconced indoors for the day, he would be wearing long trousers in the form of pyjamas. Pyjamas would be donned and worn around the house until the wearers prescribed bedtime. Shorts are a splendid item of boys clothing that are dismissed too quickly by society today I fear.
It would be marvellous if we could return to the good old days, at least as far as older boys wearing short trousers is concerned. But as you say, times have changed and I do not think we shall see this again.
My own brother too, wore short trousers out of school from 15 to 19 at my mother's instruction and generally accepted her decision. This was 20 years ago and even in those days you did not see many boys over the age of 13 still in short trousers for school (I think several Prep schools still had boys of 13 wearing compulsory shorts as part of their uniform at the time).
"I always expected any boy under my tutelage up to the age of at least twenty, to wear short, school boy style trousers during the day,".
What exactly do you mean by "tutelage"? Were you a private tutor? A school mistress? Perhaps you could explain.
I completely agree that children nowadays grow up too fast and if boys were kept in short trousers as part of the school uniform to 15 or 16 that would slow this process down. I remember reading about a school in Scotland where boys wore short trousers until they left at 18. Unfortunately the school closed down in July 2000.
Obviously I owe a duty of care to past employers and the young boys I have tutored, but I will endeavour to answer your queries as best I can. Over the course of more years than I care to think about I have been witness to more than one instance where a boy, having been home tutored, has worn short trousers beyond seventeen. The mention of the school in Scotland reminded me that one of those instances occurred there but I shall not reveal the exact location even though this was many years ago. This particular boy's mother found it difficult to come to terms with the changing, modern world of the 1970's and sought to protect her son from, as she perceived it, it's immoral ways. Simon was dressed in traditional school uniform when I first encountered him, which included grey flannel shorts. I admit my first impression was that of a younger boy. Simon was sixteen at the time but, wearing shorts, shirt and tie, cap and blazer and grey knee socks I assumed he was a younger brother. However I soon became accustomed to his mother's wishes and it was part of my duties to report to his mother or governess if Simon failed to present himself for lessons correctly attired, although I always felt guilty as he would invariably be punished after my chat with his mother. Simon attended Church, or the Kirk as it was known, on Sunday mornings, wearing his school uniform and not once did I hear adverse comment from any of the congregation or the minister, who was, I believe one of the earliest female ministers of the church, about Simon's appearance. When Simon was not wearing school uniform he continued to wear shorts but these were shorter than his school ones. Made from cotton and usually in beige or brown, they had elasticised waists and he seemed quite happy enough to wear them when outside at the weekends. Although to be fair he was never outside a great deal. After tuition was finished for the day at 5pm, Saturdays at noon, (we began at 7.30), his governess took him away. When I next saw him at supper at 6.30 Simon was already dressed in his pyjamas ready for bed. Indeed, his mother insisted on a 7.30 bedtime for Simon throughout my time with them and I cannot deny that Simon was subject to various punishments including receiving the strap or to be accurate the tawse, on his hands and on his buttocks too. he also was subjected to the childish punishments of spending time in the corner with hands on head and early bedtimes. Undoubtedly his mother's ability to mostly isolate him from the outside world contributed to her success in delaying his, "entry to hell's inferno," as she so dramatically described the world outside. However I did learn that Simon went on to attend university but after graduating returned to the maternal home and once more became subject to his mother's discipline.
A very interesting story Helen. I am not surprised that you never heard adverse comment about Simon's appearance. Whether he is 8 or 18, a schoolboy is going to look smarter in short trousers and knee socks than in long trousers. I will also say that whenever I had charge of boys I insisted on an immaculate turn out for church - both cleanliness and smartness.
I also like the sound of the lad's play shorts, though it is a shame that he did not spend more time out of doors, as that is so important for healthy development. Short trousers in the sort of weather we are "enjoying" at the moment help to make a boy hardy and to remind him that the world is not designed around the comfort of schoolboys.
Whenever I have been asked to look at an institutional regime for boys I have, almost invariably, recommended that they be made to get up earlier and be sent to bed earlier. So lessons from 7.30. into pyjamas by 6.30 and bed by 7.30 sounds a very good rule to me.
You were quite right to report Simon if he did not come to your lessons properly dressed. It is up to the adults who have authority over a boy to decide what he shall wear and it is the boy's duty to obey them.
If Simon was not properly dressed he was disobedient and also insolent towards you. I hope that rudeness was properly dealt with.
As for feeling guilty about Simon's punishments, I have been a school matron and visited many establishments for boys at home and abroad, and I can tell you that corporal punishment is the best way to instil in the boys correct behaviours.