We all have our little quirks in this life. One of mine is the windshield wipers. I cannot deal with having the car shut off when the wipers are not in their original position. Why? I don’t know, unless this exists to give me a compassionate window into the life of those with OCD, who must feel that way every minute of every day about things they cannot control. My children, however, came into the world with many “things,” some of which they are slowly outgrowing and some of which they are… not so much.
One of them is shoes. Both of them have had a “thing” about shoes. Ian, as a toddler, would wear pretty much anything on his feet so long as it was NOT a shoe. Slippers, booties, boots, cardboard boxes, all fine. A shoe? Meltdown. Eventually we had success at Stride Rite, when the very first shoe they put on him after fitting him made him smile and stomp and laugh, and I handed over my debit card and said, “sold.” I didn’t ask the price, I did not let them remove the shoes, and I got out of there before he could change his mind. I was lucky enough that they were on sale that day and I thought, WIN! Wrong. These were now the ONLY acceptable shoes. They were also discontinued.
I scrounged eBay, I went to consignment sales, and I haunted the thrift store. I bought every pair of these discontinued shoes I possibly could, in any size so long as it was bigger than he was currently wearing. I once (Facebook helpfully tells me this was in 2010) accidentally bought two left shoes, and had to go back for the pair of right ones. (I was really glad they were still there, and so was the recipient of the “wrong size” pair after I matched them up.) Little brother came along and those less expensive in dollars but much, much, much more expensive in time and trouble shoes were passed down- I had already passed on many, many other pairs I had bought- hoping against hope they would be accepted- that had never been worn by his big bro. But we are now seven years out from when they discontinued that style, and they are all worn out and long gone, unless there is a hoarder stashing a mother lode somewhere.
Eventually, we got to the point where my not so little guy was cramming a size 10.5 foot into a size 9 shoe, because I could not produce larger, virtually identical shoes.
And so that brings us to his first shoe shopping trip. His first dentist trip (NO, DON’T STRANGLE ME!), recent doctor visits (Knowing glances from bystanders when I announced that it was over and we would go terrorize some not-sick people somewhere else), and haircut appointments (I can’t even talk about it) had prepared me for the idea that this would not go well. So I was pleasantly surprised when the foot measuring part went without a hitch. And he identified a pair of shoes that he would like to try on… which they did not have in his size.
Every pair of size 10.5 shoes in the store was loudly and utterly rejected. Sensing a lost cause and maternal desperation, the very nice sales lady suggested we just pick a pair of the ones in his size and work on this at home. Why not, I thought, I can always return them… it won’t be like they’ve been worn.
I said, “Dude, pick out a pair of shoes for your brother,” and went to the register to pay for whatever he decided his brother should have. I hoped against hope that if we could let him work out his feelings about change at home, we could get him into his new shoes. And, once again, I handed over my debit card, no questions asked.
On some meta level, this was a beautiful day. I took my two healthy children to the shoe store, where I had the privilege of letting them pick out whatever they wanted. They are growing just as they should, which means they both need bigger shoes. Regular shoes, with no special orthotics. We are lucky, lucky people. And we got shoes. List item CHECKED. Cool shoes that light up and delight little boy soles, even. (Or souls. See what I did there?) Cool, light up shoes that have been screamed at, provoked tears, and been thrown across the room repeatedly.
After a perilous bait and switch where I put them onto his sleeping feet, and drawing the line that we would NOT be leaving the house until he wore them, he has accepted the new shoes and only asks for the old ones back about once a day. Thankfully, this has freed me up to worry about other first world problems, like grocery shopping.