I came in contact with the sock police today. Yes, there is an organized group of well-intentioned busy-bodies who take it upon themselves to make you feel like a child abuser if your child or in my case, children don’t have socks and shoes on. Who are these people? Well, the lady I met today must have been the regional director of the Longmont, Colorado Chapter of Sock and Shoe Police, a large group from what I have been told.
One of the great things about living in Colorado is that even though it is still winter, we still get plenty of days filled with sunshine and 40+ degree weather.
I had just emerged from King Soopers with my three girls in tow. Oldest DD was dressed sensibly in a sweater, vest, leggings and her slippers. One of the younger DD were clad in oldest DD's Cinderella dress, an act by oldest DD of ultimate generosity, and too big ballerina slippers. The other younger DD, who had woken up from her nap flushed and warm, was wearing cotton pajamas and no socks.
Taking the three of them to the market is no big deal anymore. Just usually involves knocking down a few other parents to get to the much coveted ‘car cart,’ a germ-laden shopping cart that weighs twice the normal cart weight (without children and groceries). Then we have a screaming match over who gets to drive the cart, and I usually draw the short straw because I have to hold the child who didn’t get her turn while the other two squeal with glee at their victory. That means I am now shopping with one hand and holding a child and pushing a cart that by itself weighs forty pounds, but now plus two children, is closer to 100 pounds, but miraculously, it all gets done. No ‘items in aisle three’ to be cleaned up, no more tussles between the children. I usually can coax the one I am holding to sit in the cart by offering some of the free samples of food. We pay for our food, the girls get their penny horsie rides and we head off after another successful and injury-free trip to the market.
As we were about to pull out of our parking spot, a pleasant enough looking blonde woman came to our window, which was open because it was an unusually warm day for this time of year. She smiled and proceeded to tell me she was the mother of two small children, at which point I thought she was going to commend me for being such a together mom. She smiled an even bigger smile and then said, “I really wish you would put socks and shoes on those children.” You know when someone says something so bizarre to you that you have to take a moment to replay it in your mind before you answer? I got lost in her large white teeth.
“I have at least two pair of socks per child,” I started to say, pointing to the three layers of socks, shoes, and toys on the car floor. But then I caught my oldest daughter’s deep blue eyes.
I looked around for Allen Funt and the "Candid Camera" crew. I listened for the "Your On Candid Camera" theme song, but all I did was get lost in this woman's enormous white and very large teeth.
I looked back at the smiling blonde woman and smiled my brightest smile I could must.
“Thank you for your input.”
And I rolled up the window. The great thing about being a parent is that hopefully golden moments occur when you actually model the behavior you want your kids to aspire to. When my oldest asked me what the lady was saying, I continued to smile and tell her she meant well, but that her sisters' lack of socks were really none of her concern, although it was nice of her to be concerned.
What I didn't say to my oldest was that this well intentioned idiot doesn’t understand that I have spent the larger part of being a mother searching for all the missing socks. It is a personal quest, removing socks from the endangered socks list. I have a plastic container that holds all the single socks I’ve collected, because I believe, with everything that I hold dear, that those missing socks are alive. I’ve even thought about starting a Missing Sock club, perhaps as an offshoot to the Sock and Shoe Police. I actually get what could be mistaken as a rush of ecstasy, or jouissance, when I match socks that had long been going solo. Despite the fact that most of the missing socks are forever merged with the dried raisins and fruit juice that I mistake for floor mats in the van, I continue on my Dona Quixota quest and will continue to do so until I am an old, old lady. Long after I have stopped looking for Polly Pocket shoes in the shag rug and retrieving chewed up toys from the dog's domain, I will still, with arthritic fingers and failing socks, be fulfilling my dream of no sock unmatched.
You see, I don't need any outside sock policing because I am an unofficial member of the sock police, but I keep my sock vigilante-ism to the privacy of my home. Late at night, when the kids are asleep, I sit in front of the blue of the TV and know that I will find just one more sock that matches another. And then I can rest. And then I can rest.
We all have our dreams.