Smelly Socks: Boys will be boys - be they big or small

Oct. 10, 2013 at 5:10 a.m.

This past week has been a rather hard week for my family. While the Lord has blessed us with generally good health, occasionally some problems do arise. My usually healthy father was in the hospital for a few days having some various tests run.

My father is not a particularly good patient. As most of us can agree and understand, he would much rather be anywhere else in the world but in the hospital. However, when you are feeling terrible and you need some answers, hospitals take on a sense of importance.

All males - from infants to 80 years old - enjoy attention, especially when they are not feeling too well. My father, while not thrilled with his environment, certainly enjoys the attention that his family dotes on him. When he is not feeling his best, our job is to help him through it. He is sweet in his attitude, and he lavishes his family with attention when we are in need, so we rallied around him to try to help him feel better.

We brought him some car magazines, fluffed his pillow or found something good on the TV.

The boys were in school and just knew that their dear Popsy would not survive without their support to get him through this hospital stay. So when the weekend arrived, we all headed to the hospital for a visit.

When the boys walked through the self-opening doors, Starbucks was there to greet them. My boys are not coffee drinkers at 9 and 13 years old, but Jamison spied some whipped cream and immediately headed in that direction with Austin trailing behind.

An iced caramel frappuccino with extra whipped cream - with the best part being the plastic cup that makes this whipped dessert-like indulgence completely portable - and they were sold. Jamison piped up with, "This place smells funny and is really cold but keep the fraps coming, Mom-o."

The sugar and the caffeine were definitely starting to affect him, and with that comment, he began skipping through the lobby. Austin thought that since he is a teenager, he could certainly handle a more adult cup of coffee. He took a long sip of my fully-loaded Starbucks coffee, and with the most disgusted look on his face, he handed it back to me without another word.

Jamison's eyes opened wide and with excitement; no words would come out of his mouth when Popsy showed him all of the buttons on his hospital bed. Buttons and my methodical little boy's mind are a combination made in heaven. Seeing Popsy's smile, he knew he could touch them. "Oh, will you just look at that," he excitedly showed me, "I want a bed just like this one."

He lowered the foot of the bed and then raised the foot of the bed, and then he maneuvered the buttons to have the foot and the head of the bed moving in sync. Popsy was nearly bent in half with the various bed contortions that Jamison was entertaining himself with.

Then they both spotted it. I was wondering how long it was going to take them to zero in on the elephant in the room. The dry-erase board was in their sights. The board is located in the room under the TV on the wall. I understand the idea is to convey information to the patient and the various nurses and technicians that come in and out of the rooms at a break-neck speed, but you can't have boys in a room with a dry erase board and a nice, new red marker and have nothing done to it.

The board has certain questions asked on it, and Austin and Jamison immediately obliged in answering them. When the board asked for the patient's top 3 priorities, the boys, answering for Popsy, wrote in God, family and then they proceeded to name Popsy's various cars. With names like Sarah, Esther and Naomi they listed the whole brood on the board. Austin then added some flourishes around the room number while adding our ranch name and even scribbling "Smelly Socks" all across the board.

I am sure the nurses enjoyed the reading material that the boys offered them. As each time one came and turned their heads to the board, they would stifle a few laughs under their breath.

The medical glove boxes that are fastened to the wall were a jackpot to my resourceful Jamison who is full of unbridled creativity. My youngest son immediately began blowing up the stretchy medical gloves into balloons. He had one balloon glove creation that looked like a cow udder with the fingers sticking straight down with it turned differently the glove looked like a person with a Mohawk.

The best one was a chicken with the fingers as the chicken's comb. Jamison supplied big red chicken eyes, a chicken beak, and was in the process of busily finding something to use for chicken feet when a nurse walked in and asked Jamison what he was up to.

Jamison blushed, and his shyness took over as he stammered, "Oh, nothing. I am not doing anything. I am just sitting here, not messing with anything." He continued with, "See, Mom. I am minding my manners."

Jamison kept tabs on who was getting on and off the elevator to let Mimi and Popsy know if anyone was coming to visit them, while Austin never seemed to look up from his phone. Then Mimi sent them on a very important mission. Their mission, if they chose to accept it, was a retrieval mission of a much-needed Diet Coke.

Mimi handed them the change and gave them some vague directions of where to locate the vending machines, and they were off. Thankfully, the boys have a much better sence of direction than I do, and they were able to find their way back. I have a feeling that they had a little adventure because they came back with solemn looks on their faces relaying, "This is an extremely serious kind of place."

Austin then made the life-altering decision that "perhaps med school wasn't exactly right for me after all. I am not a huge fan of seeing people in pain." I am sure that declaration will change a million times before he decides on what suits him.

The caffeine high came with a huge letdown, and both of the boys crashed in the hospital bed on either side of Popsy flipping through his car magazines. I smiled as I witnessed my lively boys, my recovering father and my healthy husband standing beside me. I looked at all my favorite boys sitting together enjoying an activity as simple as flipping through various magazines.

My father was released from the hospital the very next day. I like to think that his release was due to his spirits being raised and that my boys had a little something to do with that.

Maybe one or both of my boys may become doctors after all.

Johanna is a proud seventh-generation Texan. She lives on her family's South Texas ranch with her husband and two lively boys. Email Johanna Bloom or Anita Spisak at



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