Smelly Socks: All by myself

By Anita Spisak
Sept. 6, 2012 at 4:06 a.m.
Updated Sept. 10, 2012 at 4:10 a.m.

Independence is a funny thing. Funny in that watching your own children try it can, sometimes, be quite amusing.

When my older boy, Adam, was almost 3 1/2, he had been quite content with me doing almost everything for him. Helping him dress, preparing his food, picking up after him, etc.

But then it was as if one day, a little boy replaced the little toddler. He began dressing himself in the mornings. Yes, his underwear went on backwards sometimes as did the white undershirts (they still do) and when he tried to put his socks on they were on inside out or turned around so that the heel part of the sock was actually on the top part of his foot. I know that putting on clothing is one of the hardest things for any child to learn, but when you wake up in the morning and look down at your son standing there with most of his clothes on backwards or inside out, it can makes for a humorous or in some cases frustrating start to your morning.

Now Charlie has also picked up an independent streak, albeit much earlier than Adam. As long as I show him how to do something one time, he has to do it himself the next time and will fight me to try and do it. The outcome usually results in shoes put on the wrong feet, toys put away where they're not supposed to be, and walking down the stairs without holding onto a railing or my hand. When I try to help him, all I get is a "mama, all me." Which I think in "Charlie speak" translates to "Mama, leave me alone, I can do it myself." Just a hunch.

Food, too, had been incorporated into this new independent streak that Adam had embarked on. In the morning, I usually made them breakfast, but lunch is something that a 4-year-old's little hands could actually handle. Of course this usually meant a ham sandwich, which consisted of bread and ham. No tomato. No cheese. No lettuce. Just bread and ham. He decided that he wanted to start making them. He likes butter on his bread instead of mayo but when he uses a butter knife to scoop out the butter from the tub, he sometimes takes out a chunk bigger than his fist and attempts to spread it out evenly. This is where I just had to step in.

Both boys now like to go into the pantry and get the snacks they want, like marshmallows, crackers and cookies. I did say the snacks they want, not the ones I put out for them.

Recently, I've had to relocate these items to a higher shelf, yet they still find a way to insert their independence by moving a chair up to the counter, climbing on top of the chair and standing on the counter to open the cabinet to "find" a snack.

And yes, I've caught Charlie trying to do this with one foot on the chair and the other foot trying very stubbornly to be put on the counter!

If I try to help them, they insist that they can do it by themselves and have such a look of accomplishment when they finish that it secretly makes me happy but my mind dizzy at the same time.

My advice to other moms out there is let them have their independence every now and then. And just make sure to be nearby.

I must admit however, that it also makes me sad. I know that these are the signs that they are growing more independent and adventurous every day and that soon will come the day when they won't need me to do anything for them anymore. And that includes wiping away their tears and kissing the boo-boo's that make them feel better. I'll miss those days.

Anita lives in Chicagoland with her husband, two boys and two dogs, one of which is a girl. Email Johanna Bloom or Anita Spisak at



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