The Rockwood Files: Sock it to me

There’s an old TV commercial for Tootsie Pops featuring a cartoon boy who poses this question to wise Mr. Owl: “How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?” The owl replies “Let’s find out,” as he takes the little boy’s Tootsie Pop and begins licking and counting aloud.

At my house, there’s a similar experiment underway. My 10 and 7-year-old boys are on a quest to find out how many socks it takes to make their mother insane. Last night, they came dangerously close to witnessing a full-blown trip to Crazytown.

I know it shouldn’t bother me this much. They’re socks – not landmines. But what started as a pet peeve grew into a real frustration and has now morphed into a trigger. For some moms, it’s dirty dishes left behind on the counter or globs of toothpaste cemented onto the bathroom sink. But every mama has something that drives her a little nuts, and, for me, it’s the socks.

Since they were toddlers, I’ve always been able to track my boys by following a trail of socks. At the end of the trail, I’d find two barefoot brothers oblivious to why I might be irritated. I figured the best way to teach them was to make them pick up their own socks and put them in the hamper. I was sure they’d eventually learn that it’s easier to put the socks in the hamper as soon as they come off their feet.

But we’ve been doing this forced march to the hamper for YEARS now. And yet, still, I find socks. Everywhere. Inside-out, balled-up socks – in the kitchen, by the front door, in the hallway, under tables, and under bed covers. The endless repetition of “Put your socks in the hamper!” has nearly driven me mad.

Last night, after I’d spent the better part of the day getting the house in order, I walked into the living room to watch TV with the kids. As I began to sit down, I stopped short. There, in the very spot I was about to sit in, were two discarded socks – the same two socks that broke the proverbial camel’s back.

“WHO left their socks here?” I yelled at the boys as I pointed toward the offending footwear. My tone and volume told them this was serious.

“They’re HIS!” they both said in unison, each brother pointing at the other.

“How many times do I have to say the exact same thing?” I yelled, continuing my rant. “What part of ‘Put your socks away’ do you NOT understand? Do you think I was put on this Earth to pick up socks every single day of my life? Do you? Well, I wasn’t!”

They both stood there stunned, shocked that socks could have triggered such a maternal meltdown. They had inadvertently opened a big ol’ can of crazy and desperately wanted to stuff it back in.

“You guys better get these socks out of my sight and into the hamper in the next 10 seconds or you do NOT want to know what’ll happen,” I threatened.

Honestly, even I didn’t know what would happen, but I knew none of us wanted to see this scene get uglier. In less than a second, they’d each grabbed a sock and sprinted upstairs toward the hamper and away from the nuclear reactor that was once their mother.

So how many strewn-around socks does it take to make your mother crazy? I’m not sure. But I do know this. You don’t want to find out.

Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here.



  1. Thanks, Denice! Good to know I’m not alone while fighting “the sock wars”. Wonder if we will ever win? 🙂

Comments are closed.