January 4, 2009

Sock Monster

In January, I can buy my kids’ school uniforms for 20% off. Maisy was beginning to show her belly-button like a junior hoochie mama whenever she put her arms up over her head. Sam, with typical middle school manling aplomb, had one by one by one lost his shirts until he was down to TWO, both red. The serious need for new uniforms got seriouser and seriouser, and by late November had segued into DIRE…EVEN SO, knowing 20% of was 5 weeks away, I refused to order new uniforms until last Friday.

Unless you have your OWN shirt-losing middle school manling, you are thinking at me, right now, HOW has he lost shirts? Has the child been coming home, nips to the wind, shirtless? How did you, his mother, not notice he was wearing only his jacket, unzipped halfway to show those nine gold bling-y disco chains that make the 6th grade ladies go maaaaad?

No, no, I thought beam back atcha. He came home every day in a perfectly respectable uniform shirt. But at night, INSTEAD of hanging his shirts up, he apparently stuffed them into the handy Port to Another Dimension he keeps under the bed. I suspect a crotchety demi-god, no longer worshipped, is spending his bitter retirement millennia there. He is a green, petty, jealous creature. He used to be called THE EATER OF WORLDS, and lithe and winsome maidens, tear stained and delectable, were brought to his flaming mountain bi-annually and flung into his fire-slavered depths.

Now no one cares about him, and so he orchestrates small but regular clothing sacrifices to remain appeased. These days, he is known as THE EATER OF SOCKS. Oh how the mighty have fallen… when socks are in short supply, AS THEY SO OFTEN ARE HERE due to the near constant pan dimensional demi-god sock munching that goes on, he accepts school logo embroidered poly-cotton polo shirts. Which are more than twenty bucks each if purchased in a month that is not January. NEAT!

In Late November, a parental closet inventory revealed how dire Sam’s uniform shirt situation had become. He has four uniform days weekly, not five, as Friday is mercifully Casual Day. Even so…With only two shirts and a cheapskate thrifty mom, Sam had to put up with a HOST of new and very irritating rules. He had to eat breakfast BEFORE dressing, to avoid milk spatter. I placed cruel (I mean Nazi-level CRUEL) restrictions on lunch items with DRIP potential. (NEIN! NEIN! DER YOGURT IST VERBOTEN!) After school he had to IMMEDIATELY change out of school clothes and---this is really low of me– put his SHIRT on a hanger and then, and THEN! If that was not enough, hook the metal arc at the top of the hanger OVER the clothing bar in his CLOSET.

All this SHIRT CARE takes precious seconds away from Pokemon time. I might as well have nailed him to a door and lashed him with a cat-o-nine-tails. AND I MIGHT HAVE, too, believe me, except I don’t see how door nailings and beatings would work to make two shirts last four days each week. Also, I was worried he might bleed onto his uniform.

BUT NOW! 20% off month is here! HUZZAH! Oh Frabjous day! New uniform shirts will be navigating the postal system, destination Chez Jackson, next week. Upstairs, I can hear the demented cackling of the Eater-of-Socks, sensing new fibrous treats wending their way to Georgia. I am thinking my new evil rules (with the exception of the DRIPPY FOODS embargo) will remain in place into perpetuity, or until BOTH children get finished with being teenagers.

You hear that, I ululate to the black depths under the bed. DO YOU HEAR THAT? NOT. GOING. TO. HAPPEN. And yet he is still cackling, as if he knows all my preparations and systems and rules and defenses will be for naught, as if he knows pricey logo shirts, liberally spiced with white child-foot-smelling cotton tubes, will be working their mysterious way down into his maw for many, many delicious years.

Yeah. This would probably be a good time to buy stock in Haines.

Posted by joshilyn at January 4, 2009 12:14 PM

I have a small warm spot in my Grinch-sized heart for the eater-of-socks, as he seems to prefer 100% cotton. May he not be ravenous - and only occasionally appeased.

Posted by: Mit at January 4, 2009 1:18 PM

Stupid suggestion from a non-parent: Could you fine Sam for clothes that escape to the Eater of Socks/Shirts? Would it work or just make a great deal more noise?

Posted by: hollygee at January 4, 2009 1:36 PM

new word for the day:

Ululate: Verb 'yoolyu `leyt
1) Emit long loud cries

Thank you Joss.

Posted by: Cele at January 4, 2009 1:46 PM

I am not laughing hysterically AT you. No, I am laughing with you (and at myself) because the Eater of Socks has a cousin who lives at my house; also, I have not one but TWO middle school boys and a daughter who keeps outgrowing her bucs.

20% off in January is better than turkey sandwiches on white bread.

Posted by: Jen at January 4, 2009 2:14 PM

I read once that socks are actually the larval form of wire coathangers.

Posted by: Sandi at January 4, 2009 2:21 PM

Sock Eater?!? Huh. I always thought that lost socks turn into wire hangers in the bottom of the closet. It HAS to be that way in my house because I DO NOT BRING HOME WIRE HANGERS (EVER!), and YET, there they are!

I teach at a school with uniforms, and it completely amazes me to see the piles and piles of clothes in the lost and found. I, too, have wondered if these poor children are NAKED on the way home...

Posted by: Damsel at January 4, 2009 2:28 PM

When my children were young, I just bought socks every time I went to Wal-Mart and considered them a consumable item like milk or bread. I still don't know why they wanted to wear them outside without shoes...

I enjoy your books but also thank you for writing this blog; you have the gift I wish I had (other than maybe a great voice with which to sing; I sound like a sick frog) and it's nice to get a 'fix' every few days.

Posted by: pendy at January 4, 2009 4:00 PM

Callooh callay, it is indeed a frabjous day when the sock-monster is thwarted! But what I really want to know now, since you put it in my head, is if the sock-monster is related to the jabberwock? Or is this what the frumious bandersnatch has been reduced to by the passage of time?

Darn, I am the worst sort of nerd.

Thanks for the smiles though!

Posted by: Rompompom at January 4, 2009 4:04 PM

Oh my, "nips to the winds". I almost died laughing.

Posted by: Jo at January 4, 2009 6:23 PM

Damsel has your short term answer (though torturing the loser of shirts as you did is viable, obv.) go to the lost & found next time and 'claim' any shirt of appropriate size!

I had been going to say, my mom's county in FL has many parochial schools; and city schools in uniform as well. There are shops dedicated to selling used uniform bits for either profit or charity. Might your town have one of these?

Posted by: mom, again at January 4, 2009 6:53 PM

Oh, too funny!! I remember doing many a late night load of laundry when it was discovered that HORROR OF HORRORS we had no clean uniforms!!

Might I suggest letting him eat breakfast dressed in shirt but with a huge towel tucked in at the neck to catch any spills?

Posted by: DuckieMom at January 4, 2009 8:57 PM

By Crom! I luuurve when the early Howard and Haggard and such-like exposure is leaking out.

And declaring something "Verboten" is a favorite of mine too, only nobody here ever knows what I'm talking about.

Posted by: Brigitte at January 5, 2009 7:11 AM

Ah, it amazes me what a pre-teen/teen boy can lose. Pair of sneakers? Check. Pair of snowpants? Check. I have 4 boys and I'm still amazed each time I realize they have lost some seemingly important item of clothing.

Posted by: heidi at January 5, 2009 8:29 AM

My brother lost four coats one middle-school year and I still remember him waiting for the bus coatless in late February ... Mom finally gave up on coats and sent him into the cold to enjoy the brisk air and contemplate his chilly absent-mindedness!

Posted by: Marty at January 5, 2009 12:10 PM

Hmmm.... We were thinking about sending Miss Monkeypants to private school. But... will that result in a black, depthful wormhole under her bed as well? (And would it eat borrowed art supplies as well as school uniforms?)

Must consider this carefully.

Posted by: Laura at January 5, 2009 12:24 PM

my girls specialize in losing their uniform sweaters and sweatshirts. i go to the lost and found about once a month and alas, there are always a few of our wayward items there. they couldn't find them in the lost and found themselves. something about a huge tangle of navy sweaters and such that overwhelms them. it takes the careful momma eye to see their name in ALL CAPS across the inside collar.

Posted by: dramamama at January 5, 2009 3:45 PM

My mom used to wonder the same thing about all my underpants! And I assure you, they were not cast off in the back of some car... I myself have no idea what happened to them.

Posted by: jenn at January 5, 2009 8:50 PM

I dealt with school uniforms for many a year and I have to say that it's one of a few things of which I'm unreasonably against. Hate the things, for many of the reasons you mention as asides - the cost, the extra laundry, the finding and losing of.

These days I've only got one "child" at home. At 17, I don't take much responsibility for what he wears or loses but he still goes through socks about as fast as he goes through deodorant. I buy both about every six weeks.

As for shirts, apparently he tries to wear them but his buff, manly, beautifulness simply irradiates them into cotton dust and he goes about the house shirtless at all hours, hugging his abs, a shiver of goosebumps dancing across his arms, staring outside at the falling snow, and asks why we can't turn the heat up more.

Posted by: Laume at January 5, 2009 9:25 PM

Before he eats the shirts, the hungry green jealous creature may stash the goods for a snack later. The best places I've found his stash are under the mattress (you have to LIFT it completely up out of the bed to find them) and in the toy box. I also find a lot of clothes outside every spring after the snow melts....

Posted by: Linda Sherwood at January 6, 2009 10:31 AM

Gloves. In our house it is gloves.

Posted by: Laura at January 6, 2009 10:32 AM

fortunately OUR school uniforms consist of any collared white shirt (WHITE, though? Come on, who thought THAT was a good idea?) and navy blue bottoms of any sort except sweats. thank God, because these can all be had relatively cheaply new at target or used at any thrift store. Ad I have four boys, so...

my oldest has lost TWO winter jackets already this year. I bought his last at the thrift store (at least half, if not more than half, the price of the previous two) and of course this is the one we still have...

Posted by: babelbabe at January 7, 2009 1:42 PM