This post leans towards the frivolous. But I hope you will humor me, as a bit of frivolity is good for the soul.
Speaking of which, this is a story about soles. My daughter’s soles. Or her toes. Or her heels. Or her ankles. Or whatever part of her foot seems to not fit correctly into any shoes that man crafts.
My eldest started walking when she was 10 months old. She took her first steps in honor of Barack Obama’s inauguration day. Her first few years of shoe wearing were relatively painless. Shoes went on. Shoes fit. She walked in them. All was right with the world.
If you have a child who puts on shoes, likes to wear shoes, and shoes you try on fit her (or his) feet, count yourself blessed. I have one of those. My youngest is a true “girl” in the sense that she will squeeze her feet into any shoes, regardless of size, whether they really fit her or not.
But my eldest? My hypersensitive child is adverse to shoes. She is the ultimate Goldilocks shoe-wearer. The shoes cannot be the slightest bit uncomfortable, or she will not wear them. And, of course, too big is a problem for obvious reasons. She also pronates (her ankles roll inward) which has made wearing certain shoes completely out of the question. (She wore orthotics for two years.) For example, we once purchased Target-brand “Uggs” until I realized, to my horror, she was actually walking on the sides of the boots.
So, with that preface in mind, I harken back to 2011/2012. My daughter was a preschooler, and I still *tried* to dress her in cute clothes. (“Tried” being the operative word, because I also let her dress herself, which meant most days she wore tie-dye with plaid.) My daughter needed dress shoes and one pair of sneakers. That has been her (aspiring) shoe wardrobe for her entire life so far. One pair for play; one pair for looking half-way decent.
Being a child who grew so fast in her early years, she went through two clothing sizes per season, she also outgrew her shoes very quickly. Which meant I found myself shoe-shopping on a very regular basis. This task quickly became the bane of my existence (and it still is) because of just how difficult it was (is) to find a pair that not only fit, but that she would WEAR.
First, I would usually try Target, because, let’s face it: When your kid is going to outgrow her shoes in a few months, the cheaper the better. This particular round of shoe hunting, Target was a “no go.”
Then I would try Stride Rite, which was usually a pretty good bet. Not the cheapest, but affordable. We probably spent TWO HOURS at Stride Rite trying on literally every pair of available shoes there.
After having already invested at least three hours in shoe shopping (did I mention I hate shopping?) with still no shoes for my daughter’s rapidly growing feet, I took out the big guns: I took her to Nordstrom. Nordstrom was where I knew I would pay a lot more, but I’d be sure to find SOMETHING.
At Nordstrom, we probably spent another two hours trying on every shoe imaginable. And….drum roll…we finally landed upon ONE, and exactly ONE, pair of shoes that my child would wear: Positively ENORMOUS, UGLY, AND GHASTLY EXPENSIVE PURPLE GYM SHOES. These shoes were by a Japanese brand that starts with a K that I shelled $67 for (before tax). We bought them a bit on the large side (as you usually try to do for kids, so they can wear them as long as possible). And, by the grace of God, those blasted shoes — which I lovingly named “The Purple Boats” — lasted an entire year.
And, for that entire year, they were the only shoes my daughter had to wear with every outfit she owned. Which meant she wore them with party dresses to church.
If I was more organized, I’d find a picture of her in them and blur out her face so you could witness firsthand why I still to this day suffer a bit of a shoe-shopping PTSD. For as much as shoes hurt her soles, the aesthetics of unattractive shoes hurt my soul.