June 27, 2013
My mother swears she spent the majority of my early years searching for my shoes. And in the summertime, my clothes, too, but that’s another story. Before I was in school, my grandmother still lived out on the ranch, plus we had a hired man who worked for us for years. That made four adults and my older sister riding herd on me. They claim it wasn’t enough.
Every time we went somewhere, one person would be in charge of getting me dressed and ready to leave, while everyone else looked for my shoes. If the temperatures were above freezing, the search would have to cover the house, all of the ten acre yard, the shop, the barn and the chicken coop. And once they found them, someone had to make sure the shoes came home with me.
I used to think this story was funny. Then I had a child. As boys go, he’s pretty good about keeping his shoes on (that hysterical laughter you hear is his teachers, school being the exception to his rule), but once he takes them off they apparently become invisible, because there have been times when he was literally standing on them saying, “But I can’t find my shoes!” Add to this the fact that his mother is the kind of person who recently got lost walking the four blocks from her office to our rental house, and, well…you can see the problem.
PlayLand is my nightmare. Shoes shoved every which way into those plastic racks. Then comes time to leave, and I have to remember what exactly did my kid’s shoes look like? And what size? Were they Sketchers, or Starters? And yes, I should write his name on them, but that requires advance planning, which is not exactly our forte˙, so instead we are constantly embroiled in a Shoe Swap Mystery.
The first time was not our fault. Really. We were at the ski rental shop at Bridger Bowl, another of those loose shoe nightmares. He took off his snow boots and I carefully placed them right next to mine, at the end of the first bench. Three hours later, we returned. My boots were where I left them, but his were at the far end of the next bench. And they’d grown a size. Other than that, they were the only pair the exact brand and style of the Bogs he’d left there. Not a bad deal for us because he’ll grow into them and we won’t have to buy a new pair next winter, but those other parents have to be wondering how their kid outgrew his boots overnight, even though all his other shoes still fit.
The second incident is the reason this week’s newspaper column is more like a lost and found poster. A couple weeks back, we arrived at the Conrad rodeo to find, much to our son’s delight, a pair of bouncy houses. All you could jump for five bucks. The boy’s day was made. He bounced non-stop through the whole first half of the rodeo, then the wind came up and a thunderstorm rolled in. I dashed over to drag him out of the bouncy house and run for the pickup. I noticed his right shoe was on his left foot, but didn’t pay much attention because he seems to prefer his shoes on the wrong feet and thus far his persistence has exceeded my give-a-damn.
By the time we reached the parking lot, the rain had turned to hail. He climbed in the back seat of the pickup and hunkered down with his iPad, and it wasn’t until three days later that my husband asked, “Have you looked at the boy’s shoes?” I looked. They were both black. They were both the exact same style of Sketchers. They were both size two. And they were both for the right foot.
So here’s hoping someone who ended up with a similar pair of shoes after the Conrad rodeo sees my column and gets in touch. Our boy is perfectly happy with his two right shoes, but I’m not sure I could live with myself if we were the reason some poor kid ends up with two left feet.
Kari Lynn Dell – Montana for Real