"Um?" I inquired.
The woman, who had a young child standing next to her as well, seemed to recover her wits.
"Oh, of course you don't," she hurried to say, "what am I thinking?"
I can't even organize myself to pay someone to color my own hair, let alone go all DIY on his. I mean: what on absolute earth? Was I highlighting his hair while begging him to have even one bite of any non-gummy foodstuff? Or when he was calling me "stupid mommy" because I wouldn't put his on socks for him? Or when he was insisting his swim trunks are entirely too cumbersome, and he wishes to purchase a man(boy?)-thong? Was I HIGHLIGHTING HIS HAIR when he asked me for the 3,345,232nd time in one day how old I am, misphrasing it on purpose in a cute---> desperately annoying way as "Mommy, how old you awe?" Answer: no.
No, I shan't answer that question for him ever again because I am Timeless (and have already told him 3,345,231 times), and no, I have not been playing colorist with my six-year-old. I have been, instead, struggling to achieve a meditative state without completely going out of body (because then I'd be emotionally unavailable to him, which is not fair).
If there is a parent of a young child who is capable of highlighting his/her child's hair, he/she needs to call me and conduct several motivational speeches. I am in desperate need. Let's go back to the socks. I know--you missed the sock reference, in the middle of all the hair. Welcome to my life.
Ari insists he cannot put socks on by himself, even though I have seen him do so at least 20 times. I am tired of putting on his socks, and B is threatening suicide over it. He is a very good actor. He will fall dramatically backwards, as if fainting, with the back of one hand flung against his forehead, when asked to put on his socks. This is the silent version. There is also a version with sound, which I cannot even bear to recount.
So, B and I made a plan, very similar to our other (few) successful plans in child-rearing: we decided not to do what we had decided not to do. No, really. Parents suck at this. We are so bad--I'm constantly annoyed by us all. It's like some chemical defect happens to us because of baby pheromones or something, and we want to change our minds as often as possible. Like, mind-changing now comes with a bonus endorphin hit! We can't ever say no, even though we swore repeatedly that we would never do X again, but it's kids who are immature and have no impulse control. Riiiiiight. B and I were going to do whatever else we needed to do to get through what would surely be an arduous day, but we were not going to put on his socks.
Ari has rules about socks--some normal, some ridiculous. He likes them to be perfect, which I get. No sense at all in having the seam in the wrong place; it is dreadfully uncomfortable! I stand with him in solidarity on that. However, he doesn't want to wear socks in the bathtub, whereas I do not care. I'm just grateful for a few moments to wash myself--would go in the shower in a mink coat (faux, of course), if that's what it took. The sock incident happened when Ari was around 18 months old, so I was in my usual delirious state. I put him in the tub with socks on, and he still says, every month or so, "Mommy, wemembew that time when you put me in the tubby with socks?" He didn't like it, but he thought it was funny, not torturous.
But, there is another, more serious sock story. Ari has to sleep in socks because his feet get cold, because it's what he's used to, because in some sleep-deprived/formative moment I started putting socks on him when I put him down. Once, around the same time as the tubby incident, I forgot to put his socks on at bedtime. You would have thought he was dying in a bloody massacre. The shock was so great it drove him to speak his first complete sentence. Even at one and a half, they're manipulators. In fact, I think they should put emotional manipulation in those baby milestone things because isn't it a pretty fucking important skill?
"Mommy!!!" he wailed, in a frenzy of misery, as I walked out of his room, "don't put me to bed with no socks!!"
He will bring up the tubby incident and laugh, and then I will say, because I am clumsily trying to stay on topic, "remember the time I put you to bed without socks?"
He's still traumatized. His little face will turn red, and he'll start to cry quietly, as if trying to keep it together, and then he will say, "well, I was twying to fowget about that."
Ugh. Already such a good Jew.
Speaking of which, we got a Bar Mitzvah invitation this morning. Oh, happy day! I get to buy formal wear for my little boy. I can't tell you how I have looked forward to this moment.
Back to trying to get Ari to put on his socks, all was terrible and dramatic all day. We were at a stale mate because he wouldn't put on his socks or wear sandals. Luckily, we didn't go anywhere but the pool, when he walked barefoot across the street, by choice. Then came bedtime, when, of course, he had to have socks. He pitched a fit, but we held firm. He ended up in bed with his socks in his hands because everybody in the house was refusing to put them on. Our house is good at refusing. Something is wrong with us because we all look forward to it.
Cut to 8:00 pm--porch time. He came out of his room and down to the porch holding his socks tenderly, weeping, and asked again if I would put them on for him. I looked him in the eye.
"Ari," I said, "I will support you. I will be beside you and listen to you and hold you and cheer you on and comfort you, but I will not put your socks on for you."
"What do you mean 'suppowt me?'" he asked.
"You know, I'll just be here," I told him, "in case something goes wrong."
He giggled at that, but then pretended he hadn't. And then he crawled into my lap and put on his socks.