With a new baby in the house, I’m barely keeping up with formal homeschooling. Just keeping the place running is a challenge some days. Finding matching socks is an ongoing problem, and I look forward to the warmer weather when everyone wears sandals.
When I was a kid, my father told me there was a roving band of one-footed space aliens who broke into people’s homes in the middle of the night and stole socks, one at a time, which is why I could never find a pair of matching socks. My mother said I just needed to be more responsible with my things and I would have all the socks I needed. This is how I learned to always believe my dad.
As I grew older and began to pay for my own socks, however, I began to suspect that the one-footed sock aliens tended not to visit people who took care of their things.
Now that I have children, the aliens are back. I thought I had fooled them when I bought each child six pairs of socks at once that were exactly the same. I could mix them up and they’d still match. The aliens responded by stocking up for the winter.
The first time I was pregnant, my neighbor called me over to go through a box of baby clothes. I came home with lots of socks, and as soon as my daughter was born, I proudly slipped one over her cute little baby toes. Before I could get the second sock on, she had kicked off the first. This continued for weeks until I gave up. I prayed that she would learn to wear socks sometime before she hit college. I had nightmares of her wearing flip flops if she ever visited the White House.
I still had all those baby socks lying around, so we decided we might as well have another child. This one must have known what we had waiting for her, because she had her routine all worked out before I got her home from the hospital. I think she was hanging around with the wrong crowd in the baby nursery, too, because she came home with a few other strange behaviors — namely, screaming in the middle of the night for no apparent reason.
As the years have gone by, I’ve learned the secret about babies and socks. Babies don’t actually wear the socks: They lose the socks. Consider it preparation for a childhood full of losing backpacks, books and toys, all of which will eventually turn up under a couch cushion, behind a car seat or up in a tree house.
In our family, the missing piece to complete a set always turns up after we’ve given up and thrown out the rest of the pieces. Missing clothes and shoes turn up after they are outgrown, and itty bitty toys turn up strewn along the path to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
I’m not alone in this. The other day on my way into town, I saw one lone red high-top sneaker in the middle of the road. I was tempted to stop and pick it up. You never know — we might find a match for it under one of the beds.
Nobody ever said I give up easily. It took us several more tries, but we finally had a baby who would wear socks. By then, I couldn’t find a pair that matched.