The mother-daughter duo started getting creative with the evolving exhibit. Photo/Xep Campbell/Facebook
Gulf Today Report
It started with a dirty sock on the bathroom floor – an ordinary sight at Xep Campbell’s home. It then turned into a hilarious mother-daughter endeavour that reached thousands of people across the world.
Campbell’s 10-year-old daughter, Kestrel, leaves random clothes lying around from time to time, and most often, Campbell – slightly annoyed – tosses them into the washing basket.
This time, though, she didn’t, curious to see if Kestrel would eventually pick up the solo sock.
“I just decided to see how long it would stay there without my intervention,” says Campbell, adding that the sock remained on the white-tiled bathroom floor, untouched, for an entire week.
Then Campbell, 45, opted to extend her parenting experiment. She put the sock on display – literally.
She turned the soiled sock into an art exhibit of sorts. First, she created a small museum label, complete with a black border and bold title, which she taped to the wall above the sock.
She gave the display a name: “The Forgotten Sock”. Below it, she wrote: “Mixed Media” and “On loan from the collection of the artist”. She started a charity drive over the exhibit.
“I thought, oh, that will be funny, and she will roll her eyes at me and pick up the sock,” Campbell says.
But Kestrel had a different plan.
Rather than reacting with a giggle (or an eye roll) and throwing the neglected sock in the laundry basket, Kestrel decided to play along. She positioned the sock on a wooden pedestal she made last year, a contribution she says elevated the exhibit.
That’s when the display unexpectedly turned from a mother-daughter standoff to an elaborate and absurd bonding activity. Kestrel, who is in remote school and spending a lot of time in the house, was glad for the distraction.
Campbell says the display needed an audience. So they placed barn animals around the sock, and even erected a mysterious monolith – a nod to the structures that have popped up (and subsequently disappeared) in recent weeks around the world, according to the Independent.
Eventually, the scene became crowded, as the mother-daughter duo continued adding an array of elements to enliven the display, including a white picket fence, more toy figures, Christmas lights, a flameless candle, a pirate ship and other miscellaneous objects. Some additions were homemade (including the monolith, which they created by painting a piece of matte board silver).
“It was a joint effort,” Campbell says.
Campbell posted the progression of the evolving exhibit on Facebook on 2 December, and an outline of the sequence of events, thinking others might get a laugh.
What she didn’t expect was a huge reaction.
“I initially posted it privately on Facebook, and some friends asked if I could make it shareable. I usually don’t do that,” Campbell says. But after confirming it was fine with Kestrel, she made the post public, and to her amazement, it completely blew up.
At the time of writing, the post has been shared about 150,000 times, and thousands of comments have poured in.
What surprised her most, Campbell says, is that people were not only grateful for the hearty laugh during a difficult time but that many were genuinely touched by the silly mother-daughter bonding experience.
In addition to a torrent of comments on the post itself, Campbell’s Facebook inbox was flooded with messages from strangers.
Many people urged Campbell to capitalise on the story in some way (some suggested she write a book), but she declined. Instead, she updated the original Facebook post and wrote, “If this moved you or made you giggle in a way that felt really good and that you want to give something back, a donation to this amazing organisation called Jumping Mouse Children’s Centre would mean a lot to me.”
To her surprise, hundreds of people made donations to the local charity in honour of the spontaneous Forgotten Sock exhibit.
“We got 75 donations in three hours. This has never happened for us,” says Whitney Friddle, the development manager at the organisation, which provides expressive mental health therapy to children who wouldn’t otherwise have access to support.
In less than a week, nearly $10,000 was raised, from donors in 11 countries.
Campbell, who works in the nonprofit development industry, says she’s delighted by the reaction and unexpected outpouring of support.
The exhibit is no longer on display, as both mother and daughter thought it was time to take it down.
“Making people smile is my favourite thing,” Campbell says. “And increasing the good in the world.”
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These products also tend to be high in added sugar, fat, and/or salt, but are low in vitamins and fibre.