This 'n That 

The Mitten Clip Mutiny

It was only a glove.

A single child’s glove lying in the middle of the sidewalk. But it shot me more than fifty years into the past, to a winter in the early 60's and my family’s kitchen. Mother was stirring a pot of soup when I walked in to confess that I’d lost yet another glove—the second of the winter.

I was an absent-minded kid (not much has changed), constantly losing track of gloves, glasses, hats, you name it. (Everything but books. I could tell you the exact location of the two or three books I was reading at the moment.) Money was tight in our family; buying another pair of gloves wasn’t going to keep food off the table but still it was another item to squeeze into a struggling family’s budget. Mother put down the soup spoon . “Maybe we should get you some mitten clips.” But I shook my head. “I’m not wearing mitten clips. Mitten clips are for babies.”

I was a very well-behaved child. Never got in fights, played hooky, or talked back to my parents. But here I was, committing an act of mutiny. I usually stayed under the radar of the jerkier kids, but I knew that if I showed up at school with mitten clips I might as well have written “Tease Me” on my forehead with a laundry marker. So I took a stand: No Mitten Clips. I think she saw this in my face, just sighed and turned back to her pot of soup. “When your father gets home he’ll take you out to pick up a new pair.”

Some people have a hard time dealing with the pressures of parenthood; it doesn’t take much to bring them to a boil and turn a child into collateral damage in their private war with the world. I once saw a woman in a mall food court scream at a kid whose great sin had been to knock over a cup of soda. The child just sat with head down as the woman ranted and angrily swabbed the table with a fistful of paper napkins. My mother had her own share of personal demons and I was never sure when one would come up for air, but this time things worked out okay.

I hope the parent of the kid who dropped that glove on the sidewalk can shrug it off as well. Ruffle the kid’s hair, maybe make a little joke that ends with a hug.

After all, it was only a glove.

Charles CoeComment