By LEON YOUNGBLOOD
I went down to Fort Worth to visit relations, and after the initial reunion, I had to ask the niece,
“What is that? I’ve seen several kids with those, since I’ve been here.”
She proudly extended her arms to display her little bundle. “It’s a baby,” she said.
I said, “Uh, okay.” But I had not been fooled. It was a sock, craftily tied and adorned with inked in features to kind of sort of look something like a baby. The project was explained. Middle-school children in what are called “Skills for Living” classes were making “Sock Babies” to “educate” them on the responsibilities of parenting.
Beyond that, this “Sock Baby” assignment would become a deterrent to sexual promiscuities. In the prevailing societal view, it’s not that kids can’t have sex; you just have be knowledgeable and use precautions.
Even my nephew had a sock baby. “I guess this helps if I one day get married [emphasis mine] and have children,” he said.
The assignment was, make a “sock baby” and adhere to its needs and schedule. Get up every three hours to feed, change, burp, cuddle, or do whatever else the sock baby required for maintenance.
We did not get into details, but I wonder if the regimen involved staying up all night with fits of fear from fevers, or vomiting, or paying doctor bills? Or what do you do a few years later when the elementary school nurse calls, and says, “Come get your kid, she has head lice.”
Or when the still lice-infected kid in college phones and says, “Can I get $780 to pay for textbooks?”
And they will doubtless need a car. Add insurance—you get the idea.
This is closer to the reality. I confess, reality and I have often been at odds, but it seemed to me this “sock baby” thing was not a bad idea. Kids need guidance. If they’re not getting it at home, they need it from some other positive source.
Most teachers I’ve known are good, exemplary people. But it was admitted, this “sock baby” thing may help make kids aware of consequences; it does not suggest any notions of religious morality. A supposed practical approach superseded it.
It bothers me that so many parents are content to let the government raise their children. The number probably is not as large as I imagine, but I imagine it is big enough. I volunteered in various capacities when my kids were in school. It’s amazing, what you learn. I admit, some kids I knew had better guidance at school than at home.
But after all, flesh and blood babies go hand in hand with “sacrifice.” The baby begins his or her life; the parents (it takes two) sacrifice certain major parts of theirs. The baby may not be the most important thing in the world, but he or she should be the most important thing in the world for mom and dad.
If you do not feel this way, perhaps you should not be a parent. Consequently, when satisfying your sexual urges, use precautions. And I would caution against the notion some foolish young mothers seem to have, that babies are pets.
Kids, this isn’t a game.
But the nieces and nephews—by and large, they’re in pretty good hands. I’m proud of them, and think they will do fine.
The sock babies brought back fond memories. When I was a baby, I had a sock monkey, which was one of my favorite stuffed pets. Are any of you old enough to remember those things? They had a comical face, a tail attached to a red butt, all made from a specific variety of sock, and generally made by hand by a grandmother or favorite aunt.
My sock monkey was cuddlesome and comforting, but it wasn’t a sock baby. It was a companion, a friend for a 3-year-old.
I learned a little more, and eventually asked, “Is this ‘sock baby’ project accomplishing anything? Are the kids behaving?”
The response was enthusiastic. “Yes sir!” the niece and nephew responded. Their parents had approving comments, as well. I asked, “So the kids are learning life skills?”
“Yes, sir!” my nephew said. “Teacher says over half the class has stopped wearing socks!”
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