Jessie Veeder, Published March 29 2014
Coming Home: Adventures of Sock Boy, Crazy Aunt
Around the coffee table, past the couch, down the hall and back again, stopping short every few steps to scrunch up his eyebrows, he held up his arms and made a noise that indicated he was stopping something evil.
He’d been doing this all day, my nephew the superhero. Yesterday he was Spider-Man. Today he is “Sock Boy,” a hero of our own invention created during a long day of laundry folding and other exciting household chores.
I pulled my husband’s socks up over his arms and legs, and told the little guy he had special superpowers now. He was the amazing and powerful Sock Boy, banisher of evil, folder of laundry and finder of stray socks!
When I needed to switch a load, Sock Boy was there, the little middleman carrying clothes between the washing machine and dryer.
When I needed someone to hold the dustpan, Sock Boy was the man for the job.
Dog needs to go out? He’s got the lungs and muscles to make the command.
And boy, does Sock Boy like to make commands.
Because in his mind, the 30-pound 3-year-old in a robot T-shirt stands 7 feet tall and sports the muscles of Superman.
In his mind he is Superman.
Or, you know, Sock Boy.
And it’s hard not to believe him when he’s so convincing and passionate as he runs, jumps and kicks the air to eradicate the zombies from the kitchen.
And it’s hilarious really, that my little nephew turned out to be such a tiny bundle of energy, stubbornness, imagination and noise.
I knew that was going to happen. I called it when my big sister made the announcement that she was going to be a mom. My ballerina big sister, who looks like she stepped right out of a vintage fashion magazine with porcelain skin and the bone structure of a bird.
My sister who literally wouldn’t hurt a fly and has never sincerely raised her voice, not even at her younger, louder, rowdier little sister who used to raid her top-secret gummy bear stash and beg to cut the hair off her Barbies.
Yes, that older sister made this little boy who just told me he had a secret and then whispered, “Fart gun” in my ear and ran away laughing.
My little nephew, the superhero, is the first and only grandchild in this family. Every once in a while when his parents have things to do or places to go, we get to pick him up and bring him home with us to eradicate the monsters.
And with his first step out of the car, this place takes on an entirely different sort of magic. Because it’s just the two of us out here, my husband and I, and we don’t spend as much time as we should racing the dog down the hill and face-planting in the mud. We don’t get as much joy from jumping off dirt clumps, finding the biggest rock we can carry or throwing sticks into puddles.
We don’t own a fart gun.
But it turns out that my nephew does. His elegant, soft-spoken ballerina mother packed it for him.
So to her I say, nice move, sister. Nice move.
And thank you. Thanks for making us a superhero who protects this place from zombies, keeps a close eye on the dog and saves us from the quiet that comes with a house void of children running down the hall and around the coffee table, past the couch and up into my arms.
Thank you for being a mom so that Sock Boy can be my weird and wonderful nephew.
And I can be his crazy aunt.
Jessie Veeder is a musician and writer living with her husband on a ranch near Watford City, N.D. Readers can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.