Putting on socks

One of my very first memories is of my mom putting on my socks for me.  I was sitting on the edge of my bed with my right foot stuck out, left one bent and dangling, waiting its turn.  I don’t remember many details and I have no idea how old I was.  Four, maybe?  Five?   I do remember that my sock was white, with ruffles, and that my mom did that mom-thing where you bunch the sock up first so that you start with the toe and then pull it the rest of the way.  But that’s it.  That’s the extent of the memory.  I don’t remember any other details; what my mom was wearing or what we were talking about or what kind of day it was. But the memory conjures warmth.  Kindness.  Safekeeping.

It’s funny because I usually don’t like putting on my kids’ socks.  It’s typically the last part of the “getting dressed” circus and I’m over it and ready for breakfast already.  If you haven’t dressed a kid before, let me give you a glimpse of the gilly, shall I?

It seems simple, right?  You just put a shirt on over the sweet little head, pull on some underwear, followed by some pants, finish up with socks.  Boom.  No big deal.  But you remember me telling you about cooking with kids, right?  Yeah, this is more of that except that this you get to repeat every single day.   Here’s the play by play of today’s installment…

Me: “Come on, fellas!  Let’s get dressed!”  {cut to me with the double thumbs up}

Boys run into the room ahead of me and fling open the closet door.  We’re off to a great start.

Isaiah announces that he’d like to wear his pajamas today and flops onto the ground with a little toy motorcycle and proceeds to zoom it around the carpet.   I decide to focus on Gryffin first.

Gryffin picks the pants that I had promised to Isaiah for today.  I hesitate.  Maybe Isaiah won’t remember?  He wants to wear PJs today anyway.  I’ll just let him wear the PJs to preschool.  Who cares, right?  But alas Isaiah looks up just in time to change his mind and announce that he WILL be wearing clothes today after all and claims the pants.  Tears and arguing ensue.  So I’m cajoling and comforting before the pajamas even come off.

Me: “Gryff!  Look at these pants!  What do you think of these?  Look, I patched up the hole and they are good as new!  These will look awesome on you.”

Gryffin, still sniffling, decides to take the proffered pants and we’re back in business.

Yes.  Victory.

Me: “Ok, take off your PJs and put them back in the drawer.  You too, Isaiah.  Time to get those PJs off and put them in the drawer.”

Gryffin gets his PJs off but puts them in the laundry bin.

Me: “Nope, not the laundry bin, bud.  They aren’t dirty so you can put them in the drawer.  Nice job.  Good work!  Ok, now you need to take off your chonies and get a new pair.  Same with your socks.  Isaiah, how are you doing?”

Isaiah: “I’m only going to put my shirt away.”
Me: “No, I need you to put your shirt and your pants back in the drawer.  That’s one of the ways you help out.  You put your PJs away in the morning.”

Isaiah considers this.

Isaiah: “OoooooK.  But I’m going to do my shirt FURST!”

Me: “That’s fine, bud.  Do it however you like.”

Back to Gryffin who is now completely naked in the closet, dancing and working on his wall puzzle.  “How’s it coming in there, Snacks?  Did you find some clean chonies?  We also need some clean socks and a shirt to go with these amazing pants.”

Gryffin: “I can’t fiiiiind the chooonies that I waaaaant.”
Me: “Oh, that’s disappointing.  Well, there are still at least 15 pairs in there so I’m sure you can find something that will work for you.  Why don’t you take another look.”

Isaiah meanwhile saunters back for his pajama pants.

Me: “Ok, Isaiah, after you get those pants into the drawer, please pick out a fresh pair of chonies and socks.”

Isaiah: “No, I’m already wearing underwear, see!?”
Me: “Yes, but those are the ones you wore yesterday.  We put new ones on each morning.”
Isaiah starts crying.

Gryffin at last finds a suitable pair of underwear and a shirt.  We manage to get him dressed, sans the socks.   I send him back to the closet.

Isaiah still needs to be talked down but I miraculously manage to convince him of the merits of clean underwear and he’s picking out his pair.

Whew!  Almost there!

Me: “Gryffin, please stop working on your puzzle and pick out some socks.  Isaiah, those are great chonies!  You look fantastic!   Alright, let’s get your pants on!”

I’m sitting on the floor.  Isaiah grasps hold of my head to keep his balance while I help him put his jeans on, painfully pulling my hair in the process, but by this point the show must go on.

We get Isaiah’s pants on and while I’m buttoning them, he pulls on the inner elastic waistband and nearly breaks it.  I have to use some choice words to get him to stop pulling.  He’s near tears again.  Please, please,  don’t let him start crying again.   I distract with my overwhelming and witty banter about his shirt.  “You’re going to be rock star in this shirt!  What a great looking boy!   Did you pick this out yourself?!”

At long last I stand up, half an hour after we started, completely exhausted and we’ve only just woke up, in need of a hair redo and ready to make a break for it when the boys cry out, “WAIT!  You forgot our socks!”

And at the risk of dishonoring the warm memory of my mother from all those years ago, I respond in a flat voice,

“Put on your own socks.”



If I had it my way, we’d just do it like this everyday.


5 thoughts on “Putting on socks

  1. Wow, that does sound a bit like a circus! =) I don’t know if it’s a kids personality thing, but my older kids have been dressing themselves and picking-out their own clothes since they were 2.5-3 years old, and I really don’t have anything to do with it. They are the type that love to be on the go and leave the house, so it’s always pretty easy to get them to change clothes since they’re eager to leave. On school days I have them get dressed before they come downstairs to eat breakfast, and while Harris will occasionally still have an interesting combination, I’m pretty removed from the whole thing. I know some kids hate getting dressed and/or leaving the house, so I’m sure that would make a difference in how smoothly things go. What do you think your kids would do if you just had them do it all themselves? (Granted, I allow pretty much any outfit combination because they’re usually pretty proud of their own creativity, Harris even went through a very brief stage of wearing his jeans backwards like Kriss Kross…) =)

  2. At 10 and 13 all I have to do is remind them what they have going on that day so they choose appropriate attire. That probably started at age 7.Occasionally the boy does not coordinate so I step in, but it’s pretty hands off now.

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