Hunting season is once again here. Many of you will be zipping up orange jackets and heading out into the woods this weekend, in search of a trophy buck to hang on the wall or maybe just some venison to stock the freezer.
For me, hunting season is all year long. Except I don't hunt for deer. I hunt for socks.
Every morning, before I wake the children, I pick out their clothes. Then, I go hunting. Quietly, so they won't know I'm coming, I approach the tub of socks. (Our sock population has grown so big that the socks have left the basket that was their habitat and now take shelter in a repurposed plastic lick tub.)
I quickly spy a boy sock and snare it. But the tricky part about sock hunting is that socks must be taken in pairs. So I start searching through the socks for a match to the one in my hand.
"Oh! There's one." I excitedly whisper to myself, so that it won't disappear before I can grab it.
"Please be a match. Please be a match," I silently chant.
Dang the bad luck. I missed. The second sock I grabbed has three gray stripes. The first sock, still in my hand, has two. I release the second sock and start looking again. Dan really wouldn't care if I sent him to school in mismatched socks, but I do.
Following my father's advice, I finally started limiting Dan's socks to one color only: black. It makes them much easier to spot when I'm hunting and it's much easier to find a pair. (And, he doesn't have to change socks after school. He can just wear the black socks to the barn.)
But the sock tub is still full of mud puddle and manure-stained white socks that foil my attempts to hunt down unstained, matching white socks. Somebody (I guess that would be me) needs to have an open season on stained socks and thin out the herd. While I'm at it, I should probably weed the injured (aka hole-y) socks out, too.
Finding socks for Monika and Daphne requires much more patience, stealth and skill. Girl socks come in ten different shades of pink and purple and they're marked with countless different patterns of stripes and spots. (Daphne doesn't know if her socks match or not, but Monika definitely does. Not only must Monika's socks match, but they also must feel exactly right when she puts them on. Every morning I hold my breath while she puts her socks on, fearing the pair I worked so hard to find will not feel right, and exhaling with relief when they meet her standards. Heavens to Betsy, I hope her particular nature serves her well in life.)
So when I hunt for girl socks, I hang onto the first half-dozen I find, therefore increasing my odds that the next one I grab will be a match. After searching through the top half of the tub without finding a match, I execute my patented sock roll. With six socks in one hand, I reach in up to my elbows and flip the whole mess of socks over, exposing the socks from the bottom of the tub.
And when I still haven't found a match after several minutes, I feel the adrenaline in my blood stream start to rise. That panicky, oh-crap-we're-going-to-miss-the-bus feeling. And I chastise myself: If you spent half as much time sorting socks as you did hunting for socks, you wouldn't have this problem. My better self is right, but sorting socks is one of those things that doesn't get done unless there's a deadline, and that deadline only comes at 7:15 a.m. I suppose I should make it a habit to pick out the kids' clothes and socks the night before. But that would require working ahead and procrastinators like me don't work ahead.
Every once in a while, but not nearly often enough, I recruit the kids to help me with a sock drive. We chase the socks out of their tub. We sort them into groups - barn socks and school socks and boy socks and girl socks. And we pair them into matches. Then, for a short while, my mornings involve a much more civilized approach to finding socks: opening each child's sock drawer and taking out a pair.
And I think to myself, I could get used to not having to search for socks every morning. I think it's time that Dan and Monika learn how to hunt. For socks.
Good luck to those of you who will be hunting for deer. Be safe.