They lasted nearly twelve months of being scuffed, dragged and scraped along the bitumen. But after an overwhelming combination of being filled with sand, mud and of course, ever-expanding five year old feet, we decided that it was time to treat Focker #1 to a new pair of shoes this week. As the custodian of the domestic portfolio in our family, the task was mine.
Of all of the traditional ‘mum’ tasks that I’ve had to tackle since becoming the SAH parent(including but not limited to) baking birthday cakes; washing; drying and folding 300 loads of laundry every day; drinking wine in my #activewear, this was by far one of the least intimidating. Or so I thought.
Little did I know that for a five year old, the humble running shoes are more than just a means of covering one’s feet. They are a fashion statement. They are a status symbol. Choosing new shoes is not a decision to be made quickly, or taken lightly, as I was soon to discover. This is how that epic voyage of discovery unfolded.
We first broached the subject of new shoes over weetbix and peaches. To say he was excited was an understatement. Straight away I could see in his beautiful five year old eyes the amazing opportunities that the prospect of new shoes could bring.
Thinking it was the right thing to do, I embraced his excitement as we talked about the endless possibilities that awaited him and his new shoes. Velcro straps. Grippy soles. Uppers emblazoned with all the colours of the rainbow. Rocket boosters in the heels…. With the benefit of hindsight, I may have oversold it.
I headed off to collect him from school. I was not particularly looking forward to the impending shoe shopping experience, but somewhat buoyed by his excitement from that morning and the fact that Focker #2 was in daycare and for once, wouldn’t be present to sabotage our shopping trip.
As soon as I arrived at the school collection point I was greeted by his two besties. It appeared that the excitement of new shoes was contagious, as they both quizzed me on what kind of shoes he was going to be getting. Laces or velcro? red or blue? Ones that light up, or ones that have extra grippy tread? (apparently another essential pre-requisite for active young boys). Clearly the boys had been discussing the new shoes throughout the day, and it’s fair to say they were pretty pumped.
As Focker #1 emerged from the classroom, it was immediately apparent that his excitement had gone off the boil somewhat during the day. He looked tired and pale, and had lost the sparkle that the new-shoe excitement had given him that morning. Not to be discouraged, I loaded him into the car and off we went to the local mall.
On our arrival at the kids shoe shop it was immediately obvious that the reality of the shoe selection was not going to live up to his expectations. Undeterred, I persuaded him, with the help of the 19 year old shop assistant, to get his feet measured and try on a few pairs. He half-heartedly wandered around the shop in various pairs of shiny new shoes, dragging his feet and looking miserable. Blind daddy could see that he was disappointed. Half mumbling, half whispering, he asked me if we could just go home.
I decided to take a break and try and reinstate his spark with a chocolate milkshake and a smartie cookie. No luck. We went to a different shoe shop, but the selection was even poorer, the sales assistant even less helpful, and Focker #1 even less enthusiastic. The only shoe he was even remotely interested in was the same price as a small Caribbean island. Fortunately for our fiscal situation, it wasn’t available in his size. Feeling disheartened that I’d failed in my duty as the primary carer I decided to call it a day.
After a restless night spent dreaming of shoes with LED lights and rocket boosters, I woke to Focker #1 with the worst rasping, hacking, wheezing cough I’d ever heard. It turned out his lack of enthusiasm for new shoes the previous afternoon may have been at least partially health related.
The inevitable decision was made to keep him home from school for the day.
After a triple dose of Vicks and paracetamol, Focker #1 had perked up enough to warrant a second attempt at finding new shoes. This time a different mall, different selection of shoe shops, but the same result. Too much red. Not enough red. Too sparkly. Not enough grip. Too much like Lucas’s shoes. Not enough like Levi’s. My initial exuberance and bravado was fading fast and I was starting to wonder whether I even had what it took to get this job done. As if to rub salt in our wounds, two year old Focker #2 picked herself out a new pair of kicks in the first shop we set foot in. It took her less than 60 seconds and cost me 8 bucks. She didn’t even need new shoes but I bought them anyway, just to prove to her brother that it could be done without the excruciating agony that he was putting us through.
Once again we sought consolation from our retail failure over a milkshake and a muffin, while Focker #2 proudly strutted around in her brand new pink high tops.
Focker #1’s health was remarkably improved, and I shipped him off to school in his faded, dirty, worn and slightly too small running shoes. I spent an hour or so browsing online to see if I’d have any more luck finding the right shoe for him in the cyberworld. It didn’t take long however, before I was distracted by the daily news and some videos of cats that are scared of cucumbers.
We decided to give the shoe shopping a rest and instead stay and enjoy a play after school. All well and good, until a particularly vigorous game of chasey resulted in a slip and a full lateral blowout in one of Focker #1’s shoes. Pressure to find a new pair of shoes had suddenly escalated. It was time for me to really step up.
Pupil free day, so no school to meddle with my plans. As soon as the mall opened I marched the little fockers into the shoe shop. Me with fresh optimism and a steely look of determination. Focker #1 flip flopping along in his thongs, and Focker #2 in her pink high tops. I made a pact to myself and the little fockers that come hell or high water, we would not be leaving without new shoes.
The scene for my Alamo was the very first shoe shop that we had visited three days and one lifetime previously. We had come full circle in our pursuit for the perfect shoe.
We spent some time browsing the selection again, before I spotted a snazzy looking pair that appeared to tick all of the boxes. Velcro straps. Grippy soles. Just the right amount of blue and red. LED lights. Hallelujah!! My excitement was infectious, and Focker #2 was nodding in agreement as we tried them on. The fit seemed good. He walked a few laps of the shop. At my encouragement, he sprinted a few more.
“Perfect, we’ll take them thanks,” I proudly proclaimed to the shop assistant.
I turned to see my son standing there, disappointment written all over his young face.
“What’s wrong buddy?” I asked, sensing that my victory was about to be cruelly snatched from my grasp.
“I really like them, but…….”
“But where’s the button for the rocket boosters?”