Friday, June 3, 2011


        No parent can resist the allure of a sock fight.  They are indeed good, clean, rousting family fun.  First of all, everyone is encouraged to throw something regardless of age or experience, secondly what you are throwing is soft and less likely to injure another family member or your home; and now for the allure part.  I’m torn as to which is more satisfying – pummeling my spouse with a sock or pummeling my children.  It’s a toss-up and something I’m willing to work through – with time.
HISTORY   Sock fights were a part of my upbringing.  On Thursday nights, when my mother was at choir rehearsal and my dad was in charge, my brother and I would go at it.  Our upstairs hallway was ideal.  He set up his fort in front of his bedroom door and I set up mine in front of the opposing attic door.  Socks were then gathered and hurled at each other for at least a good hour.  An hour later, we had exercised, gotten out any frustrations and screamed in terror before my father figured out what was going on and my mother arrived home.
        I introduced sock fights to my crew about two years ago.  Everyone enjoys them, but they are a particular favorite of my eight year old and myself.  Might I add that we have the preferred long hallway that lends itself to the perfect battlefield.  The long corridor defines the parameters of the battle and decreases home destruction.
        My younger son and I are usually on the same team; we start by setting up our fort comprised of a laundry basket filled with summer towels as our base.  Next, we add several layers of pillows and put blankets on top to secure the linens underneath. Its width is a foot less than the hallway’s width to allow for quick entrances and exits.  My husband and older son are left to build their fort out of whatever’s left and their lack of attention to fort building detail shows- their fort is the first to fall.

weapon of choice - pre-rolled

  Next we gather socks and make sure that they are rolled up. We prefer natural fibers like cotton and wool.  Leave the nylon socks in the drawer.  They may have great patterns and panache but we prefer the bulky winter wool socks and adult athletic cotton socks.  Then when everyone’s fort and ammo are readied, someone yells go and the battle commences.  At first, people keep behind their own fort alternating throwing and ducking.  As ammunition runs low my younger son is usually the first one to rush out and reload.  He runs down the hall, gathering thrown socks and runs back leaping over the fort (hurdle style)    immediately ready for the next throw.
       While my younger son and I are all business, (aiming, ducking, throwing, jumping, running) my older son and husband bring theatricality to the sock fight.  They respond in a cartoonish fashion to each and every sock that hits its mark with grunts and groans and dramatic “Oofs,”  “Aahs” and “Dang its.”  Their outbursts greatly add to the thrill of the battle.  Admittedly, my younger son and I are very competitive which could account for our lack of vocalization and our attention to the task at hand which clearly is –Hit the opposing team ( Daddy and Joey)with as many punishing socks as possible.

       Ambushes are allowed but not encouraged.  My husband’s and my bedroom has two doors (fifteen feet apart -which the opposing forts are built near) and affords teams opportunities to run behind enemy lines and throw socks at our backs.  For the most part, we try to keep our battleground between us.
AFTERMATH  I cannot deny that an aftermath exists but steps can be taken to lessen it.  Missing socks is perhaps your biggest downfall.  Socks have a tendency to come undone during flight and impact and stopping the battle to repair all ammo is well – boring.  Chaos and intensity must prevail not neuroticism.   We do occasionally call a brief time-out to retrieve and repair but not to a fault.  So – it is likely that for the next week, you will be wondering where your favorite argyles have gone or most likely your athletic socks will have been rewrapped with your children’s.
       As to destruction of property; we have yet to experience that.  We do take a few precautions and remove any art on the walls or any vases behind us that might see action.  Naturally each team is responsible for dissembling their own fort and attempting to gather up all socks.

Health - After a good sock fight, everyone is most likely sweating and smiling.  You have increased the accuracy of your throwing arm, raised your heart rate, used your legs for all the up and down, and certainly had some good belly laughs.  Without a doubt, something outrageous will occur during the fight (socks ending up in unusual places, two socks colliding midflight – whatever) and everyone’s happiness meter will be up.  Although I am no psychologist, I can’t help but think that a little soft violence within a family unit can be healthy.  Remember, I am still working through which is more satisfying – a sock thrown by me that hits my husband or my sons.  I did a quick survey amongst friends as to their satisfaction level in pummeling spouses versus children and the results were embarrassingly overwhelmingly leaning towards the spouses.  Perhaps I should be the embarrassed one as I am still considering my children as satisfying targets.
Environment - Sock fights are green:  no electricity, no technology and no cost.  In short, they are a cheap evening or rainy day afternoon activity.
Parenting – Your  “cool” factor as a parent goes way up in your child’s eyes.  Mom and Dad throwing things in the house – excellent.  And I believe that your own “cool” factor goes way up in your own mind.  In the days following your sock fight, when you are finding socks in unexpected places around your home, it triggers memories of what a great time you all had together as a family and that you, disciplinarian, caregiver and guider of young life, were in there battling with the best of them.  With the warm weather upon us, I’m sensing that “Sock Fights Alfresco” are soon at hand.
       I’m hoping to hear from people regarding their own sock fight experiences and hope to inspire first timers to this family activity.
Diane Lachtrupp Martinez