We get to day care. I sit her down on the nursery floor. She yanks off a sock.
“She doesn’t like her socks, does she?”
Nope. She does not like her socks.
And at the grocery store. Halfway through the shopping list. A tap on the shoulder. “Ma’am? Did you drop this? Is this your sock?”
Well, not mine. But yes. Thank you so much.
I shove it in my pocket.
At the bottom of all my pockets are tiny socks.
We have the whole routine polished up pretty well. An act, I would call it:
I find her barefoot. “Al-iiiiiice?”
I fake-scold. “Where are your socks? Get those calcetines back on your feet!”
She snatches one off the floor and puts it in her mouth. (“That’s weird,” I think. Until I lived with this one, I did not know how weird babies sometimes are.)
“Nooooo. You’re not a puppy. On your feet!”
At this point it becomes very giggly.
Anyway, I wonder here and there about whether we should be playing at defiance. And about whether (and when) I am supposed to put my foot down (ha!).
Eh. Not over the socks.
Sometimes I tell her, “No,” and mean it. When I say, “No,” and mean it – when there is the slightest edge in my voice – she freezes and cries. Sometimes a hurt cry, sometimes an impatient cry. And it startles me to laughter that she absolutely understands, that already there is a germ of tension between her way and my way.
It fascinates me – it has since before she was born – that people, when they arrive, are so dependent and so independent.
So we play at defiance because she has that to learn too, the whether and the when.