When I first moved to Southeast Asia, I had a young two-year-old son and a 9-month-old baby girl. Then I got pregnant two months after landing in country. I have continued to have babies, on average, every year and a half. And I have five kids in a culture where there is a saying “two kids is enough” I say all this to let you know that I have had many discussion about my children and about child-rearing, especially as it pertains to babies.
A favorite conversation is about my child’s sleeping habits: they sleep in air-conditioned rooms and are around fans without getting sick; they sleep in their own beds from birth and in their own rooms; they aren’t nursed at night after a few months, etc. Then there are the crooked leg discussions. I don’t keep my baby swaddled and I am not worried about their legs being crooked? I also carry my babies on my hip and I don’t worry about them be bow-legged? Then food… I make the baby food without sugar and I am not worried that the won’t eat it? I don’t start giving food until 6 months, etc, etc.
These are conversations that I have had with many women over the years and they are always fun. And though my friends are shocked, a little worried, and sometimes think I am doing permanent damage to my children, I don’t let it bother me. I still continue to do things the crazy-foreign-lady way. However, there is one exception…
Socks. That’s right. Socks.
There is nothing that worries a mother and a grandma more in my host country than my babies not wearing socks. You know I live on the equator right? The equator. It is hot! All the time. Socks?!?
Strangers will come up to me and scold me. Actually, they’ll come up to me and tell me my baby is in danger…dire danger. I used to fight it. I would stubbornly take my baby out in public with no intention of covering their cute little baby toes. I would fight the comments and the faces of disapproval. Sometimes I would get snappy and then, other times, I would just smile and laugh. But with my last baby, I just joined them. It is so much easier to just put socks on those little baby feet and be done with it. And when I say easier I mean a huge pain in the rear because baby socks NEVER stay on. Is this some joke that the baby clothing makers are playing on us unsuspecting parents? I mean, why do they have to pop off all the time? What do these cute little cotton socks have against me?
But at least the battle is one with an inanimate object and not a 70-year old grandma. I feel I’ve taken the higher road.
What about you? What advice do you get on a regular basis about your babies?