anyone who has ever had a child will nod knowingly at the universal experience of The Sock.
it began with the birth of our son and the gift of a pair of tiny toy socks, striped black and red with a round white rocking horse that made rattling noises whenever shaken. the thing was, my baby boy didn’t like to wear the socks. he pulled them off and threw them. (to this day, he remains a kid who will choose to be barefoot in Tevas, nevermind that it’s winter on the East Coast.)
fast forward to the crawling stages where our tiny baby boy was now into pulling everything out of drawers and dismantling my carefully ordered world. it was then that he put one of the newly discovered tiny toy socks into his mouth, and in that moment, The Sock was born. suddenly, The Sock was everywhere (mostly in his mouth; the hard plastic horse was better than a frozen teething ring.) it rested next to him as he played, rode in his stroller across Tokyo (where we were living at the time) and, of course, was a ritual part of bedtime tuck-in. as luck would have it, socks come in pairs, so I was able to rotate The [dirty, smelly] Sock into and out of the washing machine without enduring the protests of a determined two-year-old. and as my life with The Sock evolved, I found myself going to great lengths to protect The [freshly laundered] Sock, making sure it was properly guarded and accounted for.
when my son turned four, we ceremoniously retired The Sock to a faraway yet protected place, safe yet non-accessible on a daily basis. at five, he got a GameBoy and has scarcely put it down for the three years he’s been playing it. at seven, he got his first iBook. my little boy is growing up.
and then we went to Orlando and on the first day, he saw Mickey. Mickey is the treasured toy souvenir pillow from Disney World last fall that my son couldn’t leave the park without. unlike The Sock, there’s nothing on my part required or involved with Mickey; my son takes care of everything. as we watch him growing up way too quickly (he’s far surpassed me in solving the mystery on the Scooby Doo GameBoy cartridge, and he knows how to Google the answers he needs for his homework), it’s sweet to see a part of him still innocent enough to love a pillow.
since our trip to Orlando, Mickey rides to school in the morning with us, sits in his own chair with us at dinner and gets a kiss from Mommy at each night’s tuck-in. Mickey has become such a part of our family, we’ve made a family project of photographing him in the more interesting venues of our adventures. long after my son is grown and has retired Mickey all on his own to a faraway yet protected place, the photos from the souvenir Mickey project will remain as a treasured chapter in my son’s childhood.