With spring comes the need for new sandals for the ever growing tiny feet. Geekbaby, now walking sturdily, needed his first pair of "real shoes", and Geekygirl has been looking a bit odd in boots with shorts, and is not allowed to wear her Crocs to school (the playground bark gets inside them), so needs some sandals.
Nordstrom is our store of choice for kids shoes. the kind assistants, the broad choice of brands, and of course the fish tank make it unbeatable.
Geekygirl is turning into a bit of a shoe maven. And who can blame her, really. Shoes are so satisfying, such a reflection of personality, they are a fetish of mine, even though my tastes have been sobered in recent years. Even before I had or even contemplated children, though, I was drawn to children's shoes, so cute and colourful and delightfully small.
So our excited girl ran over to the shoe displays, and I directed her to the table of shoes in her size range. I picked out a sturdy black soled purple Keene brand shoe and a slightly girlier but sensible looking pink Ecco sandal. I looked over at my daughter and saw her mesmerized by the sight of another sandal. A metallic pink one by Lellikelly, encrusted with sequined flowers, resembling more a mermaid's jeweled comb than a piece of footwear. "Mummy these ones are so beautiful" she said. And I couldn't disagree, they were indeed adorable. Whoever designs these things has got inside the mind of a three year old girl, for sure!
So we asked for the three shoes in her size. The funky clunky Keene ones seemed to fit quite well, and Geekygirl did a few laps of the store, but only under protest, declaring "these ones are not comfortable". Next we tried the sparkly ones, and before they had even touched her foot she declared "these ones are really comfortable, Mummy". A run about confirmed her hopes, the shoes seemed to fit well. "I want these ones please, the other ones are not comfortable" she said.
The funny thing about the cognitive skills of a three year old, is that though they can use words to get their own way, and even tell lies, they are easily caught out.
I asked my daughter "Are the purple ones really not comfortable, or are you just pretending that they are not comfortable so that we will buy you the sparkly ones?"
Without hesitation she replied "I'm just saying that they are not comfortable because I want the sparkly ones"
I'm hoping that this little girl who will only wear one brand of underpants because all the others are "scratchy" is not yet capable of saying that a beautiful shoe is comfortable when it actually feels like pincers clawing at her toes. I think that denial probably kicks in during the teen years, evidenced by my deformed feet, for years squashed into shoes I bought back when my priority for shoe buying was a cute, fashionable shoe off the sale rack, not a shoe that fitted my foot.
She skipped around the store, so pleased with how her feet looked. "My friends have these" she declared. Can we really be dealing with peer pressure already?!
We hesitated. Her desire for these shoes was so tangible, but I had not really intended to buy her something so frivolous looking. This was a dilemma that touched me deeply. Their is nothing more poignant to my mind than a little girl being asked to take home a comfortable practical pair of shoes when she really really wants that ones that make her look like a princess. The sales assistant jumped in to help (help my daughter, that is) by pointing out the sturdy rubber soles and strong leather straps of the mermaid shoes.
I considered buying her two pairs, but then realized that actually getting her to wear anything other than the sparkly ones would require the kind of diplomacy I'm just not capable of every morning. So we bought them. Geekygirl wore them home with delight. And I have to admit, they really do look adorable.