Monkeys are highly social animals, and almost all live in troops consisting of several females with young and either a single male (as in hamadryas baboons, mandrills, most guenons, and most langurs) or several males (as in savannah baboons and macaques). Usually, but not universally, the females stay in the troop in which they were born and are thus closely related to each other. Males join new troops on maturity, and so they are unrelated to each other and somewhat antagonistic.
-"Monkey." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica 2009 Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2009.
I noticed it as she climbed into the minivan.
“Jeez, C. did you put your socks on inside out again?”
“Yessssss, Mommmmm.” The drawn out consonants are about as antagonistic as my youngest gets. But she's learning.
My 16 year old, K, on the other hand, is a different beast.
It takes just the slightest suggestion of vulnerability for this 16 year old woman/child to smell a fight then go for the throat. She smells a beta female in her mission like a monkey in the jungle:
“C, you’re a mess. Can’t you do anything right?”
“Shut up K,” my youngest C replies, adjusting her seatbelt remembering the fictional toddler lesson that the car doesn’t start unless the seatbelts are secure. One has to strap yourself into this vehicle for this ride through the morning bush.
I climb into the drivers seat. It’s going to be a long expedition. My tribe is all settled, seatbelts fastened and NPR on. They are all plugged into their iPods. God only knows what they listen to, but music soothes these savage beasts. The 695-Beltway terrain can be a rough journey in this Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom.
Halfway down the driveway, I realize that I had left our puppy in our electric fenced yard commonly referred to as the outside pen. She is the youngest member of this simian-like female troop.
“Yes that will be on the floor if you don’t crate her, Mom, ” says A, my middle child.
Sarcasm is indeed a second language in my household.
Up the driveway again, I run like a Capuchin corralling an already too smart puppy into the house then her crate. Barking, howling and scratching- and those noises were coming from me.
Back to the vehicle.
“You know Mom, speaking of socks, I need some new ones.” my oldest K explains.
"Didn’t I get you some about a month ago?"
“Yea, but my boots ruined them. Besides, I need blue socks not the cheap white ones. Where did you buy them? Walmart? Five for $1.00? Why do you always get me the worst socks? Why are you always so cheap? The blue match my uniform. My friend M, gets hers from REI or Dover Saddlery…”
Her friend M’s family owns a horse racing facility in the more rural area of the county. They even buy socks for the horses.
She rambled on for two more minutes. Who knew a high school junior knew so much about socks?
“…I like the cotton ones versus polyester blends….
“…and no one wears those geeky tube socks…”
Jeez. Now three minutes.
…School embroidered ones cost a bit more but I know you would never buy them for me…”
Yikes, she’s already a walking billboard for her private girls’ school.
I figured if she wanted a response she would have stopped talking.
Four minutes. A new record in clothing demands. Clearly Monkey-see-monkey-do.
It hits the half hour and NPR news promo came on. She ran out of coercive steam.
“Fine.” I’ll appease even the most outrageous demands if it means no further jibber jabber and allows me contact with the outside world.
I glanced down at my middle daughter’s feet. A, got the coveted, often fought over, front passenger seat. The “death seat” I remind the older two when it almost comes to blows , but my comments are ignored as usual.
“Yo, A, where are your socks?” I talk like Sylvester Stallone when I feel a battle brewing in this rainforest, Rambo style.
“I don’t wear any” she retorted.
“What? Since when? “
“Since the beginning of the year. Nobody wears socks in my high school. They don’t look good with my Converse.”
"Yikes! Even in the dead of our non-existent winter?"
However, in strong contrast to the great apes (gorillas, chimpanzees, and orangutans), most monkeys do not appear to be very good at learning from each others' experience—individuals more or less have to learn new behaviours for themselves.
This sibling pair are clearly less similar than simian.
“A, your school is so weird. Do they give out awards for the geckiest kid there? Who won last week?” K chimes in.
“Nobody. They found out the prize was a date with you, how horrible.”
We have a winner in the weekly sarcasm award!
We have a winner in the weekly sarcasm award!
“Stop it. Jeez, no wonder your shoes smell. Why are there so many of your socks in the laundry pile then? “
“The puppy grabs them out of my drawer.” Ah, an invader species. Must close the crate at feeding time.
Among the smaller New World forms that have endeared themselves to humans with their antics and their tamability are the alert marmosets, often tufted and colourfully arrayed, and the inquisitive squirrel, woolly, and capuchin monkeys—all of which exhibit in marked degree the curiosity and cleverness ascribed to monkeys generally.
“Take your socks off C and put them on right”, K screams, “they look ridiculous.”
“Who really cares?,” my youngest and smallest replies. Clever girl. Finally some sense in this barrel of monkeys.
You can get to know a lot about a kid by their socks. Monkeys too.
Similar simians. Welcome to my wild but wonderful world. Jane Goodall would be proud.