“Mamma, are these daddy’s socks?”
I continue to stuff crumpled up tissue paper into the recycled gift bag, pretending like I don’t hear. Maybe he will get distracted, and I will be spared.
“MAMMA, ARE THESE DADDY’S SOCKS?!”
No such luck.
I sigh and turn around.
I feel like a teenager who has just sneaked in the door past curfew, tiptoeing ever so quietly through the living room, avoiding the notorious creaky boards in our wood floor only to have the lights flip on when I reach my bedroom door, hand on the knob, seconds before being home-free. We have a birthday party to get to and we are already running late. I do not have time for a meltdown.
In his sweet, tanned, marker-stained hands he is clutching the socks that he got from Santa – bright blue with basketballs at the top. This is what throws me off. In my logical mind, they are clearly not his father’s socks, so why is he asking me this? There has to be a catch.
Parenting is a risky business. It’s trying to place band-aids (or as I like to call them, the world’s most expensive stickers) perfectly on phantom ouchies. It’s promising the favorite footie-pajamas only to realize they are still in the bottom of the hamper covered in dried oatmeal from yesterday’s breakfast. It’s trying to teach these growing humans how to love and be loved, and it’s desperately longing for a moment while you are simultaneously living in it.
“MAAAAMMA!” He groans as he throws his head back and exhales with exaggeration. Then, without a word, he stares at me, eyebrows raised. I am taking too long.
I need to answer this question correctly and know I have a 50/50 shot. Does he want them to be dad’s socks so he can feel like he’s a grownup OR embracing his independence, will he flip his lid if I say they are indeed his dad’s socks, because they are supposed to be MINE!! MIIIIIIINE, mamma – NOT daddy’s. I am like Gwyneth Paltrow in Sliding Doors. One split-second decision can alter the rest of our existence.
I close my eyes, drawing in a deep breath. When I feel ready, I look directly into his expectant, chocolate brown eyes and place my bet.
“Yes, bubba, they are your daddy’s socks. Isn’t it so cool that you’ll get to wear them to the party?”
He lowers his brows and his eyes narrow. I can almost see the little white roulette ball, spinning round and round inside his head as he digests my answer. I instantly want to take it back, tell him they are indeed HIS socks and only his. But, I am committed now and need to stay confident behind my poker face.
Looks like we are going to be even later to that party.
The house always wins.
Marissa B. Niranjan is not afraid to roll the dice and come up snake eyes.