Thursday, March 18, 2010

Shattered by Socks.

This morning was not easy. It's a regular school day, so we were just going through the regular school day routine. It should have been simple, a choreographed 45-minute routine.

Except my husband is out of town. And that changes everything, in Max's mind.

Or maybe that wasn't it at all. I don't know. (Which is precisely the point.)

Max started to cry in the shower. He didn't want to be alone, he didn't want to get in, he didn't want to get out, he didn't want to be wet, he didn't want to be dried. But he was calm again after being wrapped in a towel and got dressed quietly and willingly. I thought he was fine.

And then we got to the socks. I had grabbed a pair of socks from the very end of the supply, and had one sock on his foot when he suddenly realized that it was a pair he did NOT want to wear. Most of his socks are solid white, soft and stretchy, all an identical Max-approved brand. But there are a few random pairs that appear when the laundry is backed up and choice is limited.

Max did not want to wear those socks. They didn't feel right. They didn't look right. They were simply not going to go on his feet today. So I went in search of a new, acceptable pair. I offered two other choices -- tube socks or footies -- knowing he typically disliked both, but they were all that was left. (And some days he's fine with them!) But not today. Today he got upset and flatly refused to cooperate any more. With anything.

I dug through the laundry basket and found yesterday's pair of dirty socks -- the last of the preferred kind -- and tried to put those on him. But he was done. The window of opportunity had already slammed shut.

He cried, he gagged and puked, he scratched his face, and hit his head against the wall. He kept his bare feet far away from me, scrambling sideways like a crab, refusing to calm down or listen to reason.

I kept telling him the bus was coming and he needed to let me put his socks and shoes on. I pointed out that the socks were his favorites. I gave him some time, hoping it would let him push his own re-set button. When that didn't work, I pleaded, I begged, I scolded, I threatened, I reasoned, I promised, I yelled, I wrestled, I pulled & I tugged.

Then I slumped down, defeated & frustrated, buried my face in my hands, and cried.

Max saw this and staggered over to me, his face crumpled and his arms out for a hug. He crawled onto my lap, wrapped his arms around me, and buried his face.

We comforted each other for a moment, and then put those socks and shoes on.

Generally speaking, once the situation is resolved, Max is over it. He forgives, he forgets, he doesn't hold a grudge, he regains control, and he moves on. But the rest of us can't. We're shaken. We're upset. We're bothered, frustrated, sad, resentful, worried.

And today was no different. Max's tears ended, but my older son's started. He waited for his own bus with tears dripping silently down his cheeks. And so my own eyes fill yet again. I tried to talk it through with him, but I'm at a loss myself. I don't understand why it happened. I don't know when it will happen again. I don't know how to prevent it from happening. (We can avoid those socks, obviously, but the reality is that it will be about something else next time.)

Max got on the bus and left for school. He's ready, he knows what to do, and everything makes sense.

But for those of us left in the wake of the storm, nothing makes sense. We don't know what to do. We aren't ready for the day.

I'm throwing away those socks and doing a load of laundry. But beyond that, I'm at a loss...


Hua said...


Max is so lucky to have a mom like you. Hang in there!

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Nan said...


Sounds like a tough morning. I know it seemed defeating, but truthfully, as I was reading it, I was so happy Max had you for a mom. I can just picture me glueing the offending socks on some feet while sitting atop a trapped body.

Some days, the bus driving off is a blessed sight, eh? Thank heavens seeing it come home is also a blessed sight. Love you guys...nan

Kathleen said...

This post helps me to see the total confusion and lack of predictability surrounding Max. I was so glad to read that you let yourself slump down and cry, and that he responded with compassion. My heart is with you and all three of the kids today...