I’ve never met a baby who wanted to wear a sock. And yet, we make them all wear two.
Why babies hate socks is unclear. They seem to be able to come to terms with wearing diapers, shirts, pants, and even some regrettable onesies that they will, no doubt, one day recall as fashion mistakes. It’s almost as if babies know that their toes will never again be so cute as they are during these first months. This is the time to show off those little piggies. Let them go gleefully to market and have their roast beef while they are still pink and round.
Whatever the reason, babies like staying in socks like Houdini liked staying in straitjackets. Turn your back for three seconds and the baby will have one sock off and the other hanging by a big toe. This phenomenon is the one, and only, viable rationale for baby shoes. Babies need shoes for no other reason than to shackle their socks to their feet.
When they grow older, kids seem to like socks a lot more. My preschooler would wear the same pair of socks for days, including to bed, if I let him. I’ve warned him that mushrooms would start to grow between his toes if he didn’t change his socks. Somehow, he thought I’d said marshmallows, which only encouraged him. What better way to enjoy sugary snacks without parental interference than by growing them between your toes?
Our baby went the whole summer without anybody bothering him about socks. Now that the weather is turning cool, the battle begins in earnest. I’m glad to see that his sock-escaping skills have not diminished with lack of practice. Every time I turn around, I’m looking for a missing sock. In stores, I have to mentally mark our route so I know all the places to search. I will not admit defeat by buying shoes for somebody who is so far above doing any of his own walking.
Baby socks are cheap and easy to replace, but I find myself becoming sentimental about whichever sock our baby has cast to the winds. I don’t want a new sock; I want that sock. If he could lose both socks at the same time, I might be okay with buying a new pair of socks, but I’m not springing for two socks when I only need one. I’ll find that sock, even if I have to search the basket of every shopping cart to do it.
I’ll find it, and I’ll put it right back onto that child’s foot. I’ll show that little baby; he can’t break my will to keep his toes warm and dry. I will sock every naked foot I find, until every toe has succumbed to the necessity of being clothed. I will do it just as soon as I get up from my hands and knees and finish searching under the racks in the bakery department.