There are countless memes and chat forums that cover the topic of single sock removal: that motion young children make when they crawl/stroll into one room wearing two socks and emerge wearing one or none. This is quite different from the universal phenomenon of two socks going into a washer and dryer and only one sock coming out. This is additionally contrastive of babies tossing a sock right before being seen in public as the parent receives judgmental glances, though, it can be as frustrating.
I am talking strictly at-home, room-to-room missing sock. The confusion level can make a parent aghast as to why and how their child lost a sock in the house they are supposed to know every corner of. The level can rise if the parent cannot successfully retrieve the location of the sock. Then we can feel like morons because a baby is smarter than us or feel completely inadequate in the true cleanliness of our own homes.
The mystery is oftentimes most baffling because a young child is usually moving about and seems to take no notice of the fact that socks are covering their feet. A parent will then look down arbitrarily and notice that the baby’s sock is just…gone. An inevitable questioning sequence commences, even if a baby is too young to provide concrete answers, and the parent must backpedal the route the child took. It is a thorny challenge.
In a blog post for Scary Mommy, writer mommy Amanda Niday lists processes that her own son’s lost socks may have pledged, including, “. . .He ate them,” “He shoves them down his diaper,” “He’s selling them on the black market,” and “He’s donating them to underprivileged babies.” Another mommy writer, Elizabeth Gonzalez James, composed “The Agony of a Lost Sock” for the website Mothers Always Write. Her words are nail-on-head striking of what a big deal a missing sock can serve to a mother particularly: “The [nonexistent] sock was more of a message, a spitball from the universe, landing on my forehead and reminding me that, even though parents are supposed to anticipate and control everything, sometimes you can’t do a damn thing about anything.” There exists online theories and tales of woe and even several “answers” to the missing sock dubiousness, even one involving quantum mechanics and electric charges and secret compartments and, literally, lint.
Because we live in a dangerous world where our homes are our safest, most well-acquainted sanctuaries, “. . .parents are given a false sense of control, that they can stave off tragedy or even mild discomfort. . .” (James, 2015) A potential chilly foot is definitely considered an easy-remedied discomfort for most parents, considering everything we have to mend in a day.
When a baby pulls off their sock, it looks bad on the parent. When a parent loses a sock, we suck.
At the biological tier, a child can take off their sock literally because they feel too warm. The removing of one or both socks can indicate subconscious temperature regulation, as our mammalian feet help our bodies maintain the most level operating temperature.
At a more nurturing standpoint, a baby may want to put their sock in their mouth, as most parents know that children start off with a strong discovery instinct to explore with the sense of taste. This oral fixation can last past age 3. A sock can be something always immediately strange on a baby’s foot once placed there. Why not give a taste to see what’s going on?
Here is where I’d like to hypothecate. Removing one sock while leaving the other on gives the security of a kickstand on a bicycle, correct? The bicycle doesn’t know of the kickstand’s existence…it doesn’t know why it’s standing. It just is. Let’s explore deeper. I’m going underground here, so ride with me.
Human life is about understanding the importance of a full life, but not “too full” as to ruin the possibility of a peaceful afterlife. It can be deduced that we, as humans, are “here” in creation on Earth, but also must be “there,” elsewhere, in the unknown, a conundrum of the gift of macrocosm. Babies and toddlers could be reminding us of this fact: symbolically, when one sock is removed, and the other is kept on, the desire for duality is manifested in the action. They want to be warm and cool simultaneously, just as most people want the now and the distant. This is ultimate comfort. The soundness in choice, and the confidence in standing by that choice, is what makes life difficult, but entrancing, much like attempting to keep socks on little feet.
Even if this depth is taken skeptically, it is a curious thing, this single sock dismissal. The sock can represent life itself—while on a child, it is snug and jealous, but usually user-friendly. When taken off and slung away from its owner, the sock is testing the nature of this world and that of possible other(s). One on and one off is exploratory—”what will happen if I endeavor to be two conditions at once?”
Young children may be much more wondrously endowed than we ever knew.
All of the above, or the children are just plain nuts. I will toast to all combinations.
James, Elizabeth Gonzalez. “The Agony of a Lost Sock.” Mothers Always Write, 29 Jun. 2015, http://mothersalwayswrite.com/the-agony-of-a-lost-sock/. Accessed 22 Jan. 2017.
Niday, Amanda. “I No Longer Give a Damn That My Baby Isn’t Wearing Socks.” Scary Mommy, n.d., http://www.scarymommy.com/parenting-judgments-baby-without-socks/. Accessed 22 Jan. 2017.
Pomeroy, Ross. “Can Quantum Mechanics Solve ‘Missing Socks’ Mystery?” RealClearScience, 9 Dec. 2011, http://www.realclearscience.com/blog/2011/12/where-do-socks-go.html. Accessed 22 Jan. 2017.