“I have yet to meet someone who told me what a lovely, calm experience they had buying their child’s first pair of shoes”. So spake Pip’s incredibly wise GP after I regaled her with our recent misadventures in shoe shopping. It’s so true though, isn’t it? You never think of these things until they happened to you. Why did I harbour romantic notions about shoeing the feet of a barefoot pixie? In fairness, he didn’t pick it up off the ground. Both his mama and dada spend most of their time padding around the house on their toes.
We had our first “incident” a few months ago when a frightened teenager wearing a t-shirt claiming that she was an expert fitter got a kick in the face from a very distressed little boy who thought that wearing shoes was the equivalent of being murdered. After some serious blood-curdling screaming, some face scratching and one sympathetic parental look too many, I grabbed the shoes and hightailed it out of there to begin Project Shoe Wearing in the privacy of our own home – but not before the expert fitter thrust a sorrowful photo of Pip in his first shoes into my hands as a “keepsake”.
Several weeks and many failed attempts later, the shoes went unworn and unloved. In the child’s defence, he was trying to psychologically prepare himself because he would carry them around like a piece of lego or sit on the ground and slip his feet into his dada’s size 10s, to try them out like.
But the drop in temperature and the big move up to the Tweenies in creche brought the shoe issue to a head because his footsies were getting cold AND the Tweenies run around outside twice a day – even when it’s wet, which Pip especially loves – but there was no running for little boys with no shoes on rainy days so New Shoes Take Two was required.
After some good advice from the mammies at work, I set my sights on these babies:
My reasoning was threefold. The neck of the boot folds down like a sock so I only have to slip his foot in and then you peel it right back up again. They’re lined with a sweatshirt material so hopefully it would feel like he was popping his foot into a sock – and he does love his socks. Finally, he can splash in all the puddles he wants in these bad boys. If he wears them that is…
So off I toddled last weekend to get him fitted again and to procure what I had completely built up as the holy grail of shoe acceptance. My mother decided she wanted to tag along to get in some quality Pip time. Fine by me, says I. (Feel free to buy them for him too, I thought. But she didn’t 🙂 Bad! Bad, daughter!)
The place was JAMMERS! All around me were other families clasping their paper number waiting to be called. Interestingly enough, it was mostly both parents representin’. Is shoe buying a family decision I wonder? We all listened in on the interactions of whatever customer was currently being served and nodded politely when the children paraded around in their new shoes.
Number 51, we were up! Fair play to the savvy woman who served us. As I was explaining our ongoing difficulties with the shoe situation she initially suggested laces rather than velcro as an option because Pip couldn’t get those off but obviously my face told a thousand tales about my parenting style and she quickly moved on to expertly distracting and measuring at the same time.
It was at this moment that my mother decided it was time to tell the whole shop at the top of her voice “I think he’s just gotten used to crying every time he sees the shoes you know?”, leaning into the saleswoman like she was a feckin consultant diagnosing a rare condition or something.
For the love of baby Jay, I lost my tiny mind.
“Excuse me!” I retorted. “You are not in my house every day. You do NOT know what goes on”.
Oh, I’d say the watching parents all loved this.
“Hmphh” was the response from the know-all in the corner.
WHY mammies, WHY? WHY do you feel you have to stick your oar in at the most inopportune times? I was LIVID!
This obviously wasn’t the first time clever saleslady has been drawn in on a family spat and she quickly circled the wagons around her customer (that’s me) and ignored granny. She thought my boots idea was brilliant! While she was off looking for the right size, a waiting parent tapped me on the shoulder and had a little pep talk with me about Pip hating shoes. Her five year old is the same she said, the shoes come straight off him when he gets in from school. He’s always been that way, she said, hates the sensation on his feet. IT WILL ALL BE OKAY, she said. I thought that was lovely. Thanks helpful lady in the shoe shop.
The crocs came out. They went on the child – for seconds – to make sure they fitted and then off we went.
We had minor success at home the next day where the boots stayed on if he sat on Dada’s knee playing but definitely NO walking, no sir. But the real breakthrough came at creche during the week because when offered the option of the cosy boots and splashing in puddles outside versus staying in his socks and watching everyone else run around, splashing won out in the end. There was a little resistance on the first day but on the second day he was flying! The creche even told my husband “Daddy, there will be no issue with the shoes anymore”. Now there’s confidence for you.