Every family has its idiosyncrasies. Mine does. And, like most, I was pretty oblivious to one of the more interesting ones until one morning not long ago when we left the house for the school bus stop. My seven year old son was wearing shorts and his favorite socks—my black athletic socks pulled up to his knees. At seven he can get away with this, so it’s not a big deal. But then it hit me. Socks are a “thing” in my family. Each one of us has some sort of “issue” with them.
It all started years ago when our eldest was preschool age. She insisted on wearing mismatched socks—the wilder the mismatch, the better. I thought she’d eventually outgrow it and was surprised at her frustration with me when I bought her plain white socks for first grade. She didn’t even know what to do with those socks….they matched, all the time. Needless to say, I went right back out and bought the loudest, most colorful socks I could find and forever after they were mismatched much to the owner’s content.
Our second eldest is into “pretty socks” and shoes. She was the darling little girl in squeaky shoes that delights all with her femininity and love of pink, ruffles, lace and anything that twirls. Her socks always matched and were always prettily tucked into pretty shoes. Youngest son, however, would go without socks all year unless required by me that he wear them. When he does, they are the plain white cotton variety….worn all over the house, garage, back yard, front yard, driveway…..holes, grass stains of no concern to him. This trait he inherited from his father who, early in our marriage, I made promise to throw away at least one pair of old socks for every new pair that he purchased so that we weren’t overrun with his old raggedy stuff that he couldn’t part with. These guys just don’t care about roughed up stuff. If it pulls on, it’s a sock.
As I walked behind my son to the bus stop enjoying the sight of his pulled up socks it occurred to me that as much as my family is odd with socks….they represent us well. Three of us were born in America to birth parents that are known to us. The threads of our biology wend back through well worn paths of our nation’s ages and stages. We are decidedly homegrown. Three of us were born in China, separated from our birth families for reasons unknown. Even though my family has been complete for six years now, sometimes when one or two or four or all six of us are together we don’t appear to match. Kids on the playground will ask, ”You know your son…not the light one, but the brown one…” or, “Is she your daughter?” Older children and adults don’t tend to ask the question aloud. They hold it in their eyes until I put my arm around my children in a motherly way or claim them with a comment such as “Oh daughter dear.”
Isn’t it funny? We are jumbled socks. Each of us has our specific look, style, temperament and degree of comfort. However, together we all work. You could put any two of us together and we’d be family. I think my preschooler had the right idea about her mismatched socks. She wears them still to this day in the sixth grade. I think I’ll start following her lead. It’s a family thing.
Linda Mitchell is a wife and mom to four, blog contributor for Love Without Boundaries and volunteer at her kid’s school, student of School Library Media, K-1st Sunday School Teacher…..and creative writer when she can get a word in edgewise.