Friday, January 6, 2012


You'd think a mother would not have to issue reminders to change underwear daily. Right? Every morning I take out fresh boxers for Benjy, and every night I notice those boxers lying, crisp and untouched, on his chair. (I'm a bit slow on the uptake. But I'm close, Readers. I'm on the verge of remembering to WATCH HIM CHANGE HIS UNDERWEAR EVERY MORNING.)

Aspergian kids have this way of screwing up the dressing process, I've noticed. We have friends with an older Aspie son, a teenager, who can't get his pants on the right way: he zips them in the back. And Ben, as I've mentioned before, can't figure out the whole shirt business -- his are usually backwards and inside out. But this changing of the underwear -- or lack thereof -- is really bothering me. I keep hoping he'll notice girls and suddenly develop an interest in hygiene. That's what happened for Saskia: as soon as the male of the species became interesting she started taking forty-minute showers at least once a day. Sometimes twice. (This insanity is beyond Lars. He finds it confusing and possibly unethical for anyone to take a forty-minute shower.)

Now, socks are another matter. I myself have been known to constantly wear holey socks. I think this is an idiosyncrasy of the baby boomers. I know lots of other people my age or thereabouts who wear holey socks. My parents, on the other hand, would not be caught dead wearing them. And my grandparents? Good heavens, no!

Once I was visiting my adorable German-Jewish grandma in NYC. My ex-husband (yes, I have one of those) was with me, and he had brought holey socks with him. By some freak, mine were NOT holey. Anyway, Ex was in the shower, and Grams noticed his socks lying on the bed.

She picked one up, scrutinized it, and said, "Vhat is dat?"

"That," I replied, "is a sock."

"It's got a hole."

"I noticed."

"I vill darn it."

I almost fell off the edge of the bed. "DARN it? Really?"

"Of course." And she proceeded to locate her DARNING EGG and a needle, and to sew up them holes. This was the best entertainment I'd had all month.

Ex came out of the bathroom to get dressed. When he noticed his socks he froze. Picked one up and examined it.

"What," he said, "is this?" He dangled it in the air. In the spots where the holes had been was a sort of elegant scar tissue. Neither of us had ever seen anything like it.

"This is your sock. Darned." Then we both cracked up.

"Then I guess I can't just trash it," he said.

"You'll be wearing that baby for months to come," I assured him.

I so wish my darling Grams were still here to darn my socks, or to make Benjy change his underwear. (I can just hear her: "Vhat? You didn't change dose AGAIN? Put on de clean ones!") But sadly she died a few years ago, after a life most people would consider extremely challenging (yet full of intense love) at the age of 102. In her last couple of years of life Ben sat with her, unfazed by her extreme old age, and held her hand. Just sat quietly and held on for dear life.

Those are the moments I hang onto. Clean underwear be darned.

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