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the soft bigotry of low socks

In the absence of meaningful feedback from babies about their specifics desires, (Does my snookiewookums want sweet potatoes or carrots? I don't know mom - I want you to pick one and shove it in my mouth already!) I would be willing to bet that any mom or child-care provider naturally projects his or her own hierarchy of needs onto their child. Never is this more apparent than in the "I think the baby's cold" syndrome. And here, let's just cut to the chase. The baby isn't cold - you are. Why don't you just say what you really mean which is "I'm cold." "Can you please turn up the heat for me?"

But this is not what I want to write about.

A certain childcare provider in our stable of helpful baby watchers has a real "thing" about the cold issue, especially as it pertains to the little space between the baby's socks and his pants when he moves around. You see, as he moves sometimes the pants ride up and SKIN IS EXPOSED!!! (As if were were in the arctic tundra and that skin might instantly frost-bight in the 63 degree air inside our house.) So to save the baby from certain amputation this childcare provider pulls up his socks as far as they can go, up onto his calfs, and then the crisis is averted. No frost-bight praise God.

I, on the other hand, am a person who HATES the feel of constricting socks. Why don't you just pour cement around my feet and drop me in the river?!!! So when this childcare provider does the thing with the socks, I point out that the top of the socks make a line on his skin, and clearly this is an indication that they are cutting off his circulation, and this will positively kill his potential for future success in the Russian Ballet.

They need those calf muscles. Look at Barishnakov.

Suffice it to say there there have been spats over this issue the sock height issue. Still, I was surprised the other day to hear my reasons reinterpreted in the following fashion:

"Your mother doesn't like it when I pull up your socks" I heard her say to the baby, "because she thinks it looks faggoty."



"How could you possibly ever think that was even close to anything I ever said in my life ever???" I stammered out, my head spinning into another dimension.

"What? I don't want his legs to be cold, but you said it looked bad!"

"Cuts. Off. Circulation. Not.... Looks.... F-Word." (here I was hyperventilating, so I couldn't get the words out so well.)

Not to say that I'm an immaculately non-judgmental human being. I have made one or two or several hundred thousand off-color remarks in my day. But here was a clear example of this woman I trust NOT LISTENING WHILE I GIVE SPECIFIC INSTRUCTIONS REGARDING THE HEALTH OF MY BABY! No, just kidding, I was mad because I'm not a bigot.

I do hope that in the new millennia certain words slip our of use from our collective vocabulary entirely. I'm thinking of you, N-word. And you, C-word. And you, faggoty. Not even for knee socks.


you know, if only kids would be a little clearer about their socks preferences. Take Baby Dan, for example. His parents were sure his feet were cold. So, on the socks went. And he promptly kicked off all the covers. Then along came Baby Tom. The parents learned, and made sure Baby Tom had no socks. Turns out, Baby Tom's feet were always cold. To this day, he wears socks to bed.

I know dah! If only they could TALK and TELL US what they want!

BTW, Dan tells me there is a saying "the soft bigotry of low expectations," and then he told me to title this post "the soft bigotry of low socks" and then he fell to the floor in convulsions of laughter. Even though I know that he's brilliant, sometimes my husband still amazes me the breadth of his knowledge. So for anyone else who got under 1300 on their SATs, I wanted to post this explanation in the comments :)

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