Sitting in a circle, criss-cross applesauce, on a colorfully patterned carpet, I am listening to each of the second graders in my group take turns reading aloud.
Today is Tuesday, and it’s my day to volunteer in my seven-year-old son’s classroom. As I sit looking at the little faces around our circle, I notice the little face that belongs to me. I smile and look him over, trying to imprint his image on my heart’s memory. I know how fast this time goes and I don’t want to forget one detail. That’s when I notice that he is wearing purple socks. Except he doesn’t own purple socks and he is wearing a green shirt. Oh my goodness, who dressed this child and why is he wearing his brother’s football socks?
If you have no reference for the sort of socks little league football players wear, they are like the knee highs of the 1970s. These socks are for my 10-year-old, so I can only imagine how high he must have had to pull them in order to get them up. Not to mention that he doesn’t even match. Again, who dressed this kid and let him out of the house looking like that? Not that I am by any stretch a fashionista, but let’s at least match.
I Decided to Teach My Son Some Fashion Basics
When he gets off the bus in the afternoon, I ask about the socks. Why he’s wearing them, how he even got them on, and if he realized that purple and green don’t match. He told me that he tried them on to see what they felt like and they were comfy so he didn’t take them off when he finished getting dressed. He also wasn’t too concerned that his socks didn’t match his shirt and kind of shrugged it off.
Fast-forward a week or two and my cherub is taking forever to get dressed. I impatiently go into his bedroom to hurry him along and find him trying as hard as he can to hurry, but putting on his brother’s football socks takes a little longer than putting on regular socks. By the time I got to his room to check on him, he was already dressed, so I didn’t notice the socks until he was shoving his feet into his shoes. It was too late to change them because we had to get to the bus, so while waiting for the bus I explained how some things weren’t meant to be worn together. Some colors and patterns just didn’t look nice with others.
He was very patient while I explained the basics of fashion, not that I know much more than the basics. He looked at me with his big hazel eyes, smiled his irresistible toothless grin, and said, “Mom, you just need to learn that sometimes it’s OK not to match.” With that little piece of wisdom he hopped out of the car and onto the bus. I couldn’t believe he said that. He was the one wearing a green shirt and purple socks!
Then in a still, small voice, I hear the words of Jesus whispered in my ear: “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.” I know that Matthew 6:28 was not speaking of how my child dressed. I believe, however, that the Holy Spirit is there to remind us of His words when we need to hear them.
What My Son Taught Me
I spent a majority of the day pondering the very thought that my wise seven-year-old son left me with that morning. Why was I worried about his shirt matching his socks? Most people that encountered him during his day in second grade wouldn’t even notice. He liked how the socks felt, which meant that he wasn’t distracted by itching or uncomfortable socks, so he was able to focus on his learning.
When he clambered off the bus that afternoon, he was smiling and happy. Wasn’t that more important than matching? While we were having our afternoon snack, I asked if he remembered our conversation about the socks this morning. He nodded his head yes. I explained that I had thought about what he said before he left for school and that he was right. I did need to learn that sometimes it’s OK not to match. I asked him to forgive me for getting frustrated with him and we planned a date to go buy him his own pair of long purple socks. Purple socks became a staple in his wardrobe throughout the rest of his school career, as purple was our school color, and I had many dates to buy purple socks with my son.
He is all grown up now and our season of buying purple socks is over. When I look back on that season it is with a fondness that warms my heart. It was a season of watching my boys play sports and grow into the wonderful young men they are today. The lessons learned during those seasons were not just for them. Raising my boys, I learned many valuable lessons myself. As a parent, it’s important to keep an open mind and heart to allow your kids to teach you as much as you teach them.
On days that I find myself standing in front of my closet trying to decide what to wear and realize I am stressing about it a bit, I remember the words of my son: “Sometimes it’s OK not to match.” Then I hear the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:28. “Why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.” I try to take those words, spoken ever so tenderly, and remember how beautiful the flowers of the fields are.
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