Posted by Duff

I was recently reminded of my friend M’s younger brother: as a pre-schooler, he wore a wool cap, that might as well have been glued to his head, for the better part of year.

M told me this story long before my child was able to voice her opinions on her daily attire. Probably when I claimed I’d encourage The Dervish to wear cowboy boots and a princess crown to the supermarket if that’s what she wanted.

I still have that intention, but have realized there is a big difference between an outfit obviously chosen by an imaginative child and improper clothing that might have been hastily pulled from the hamper by her lax parents. No one would think I dressed The Dervish in fluorescent rainboots and a feather boa on a sunny day, but if she’s wearing something stained or threadbare, it might seem less the whim of a free spirit and more the negligence of yours truly.

On more than one occasion in recent weeks, I have apologized to The Dervish’s daycare providers and assured them that I know that the shoes she is wearing have seen better days, aren’t warm enough, and are bordering on too small. It is not my intention to make her look like a street urchin.

I just can’t get her to wear a new pair.

We have plenty of other pairs for her. We have taken her shopping, let her choose shoes to try on, and sometimes she shows interest. Or at least doesn’t scream and is willing to uncurl her toes long enough to connect with the inside of at least one of the pair.

But once the shoes are paid for, and it’s time to leave the house in them, they suddenly hurt. Are too small. Are too big. Whatever they are, they aren’t ‘Other Shoes, Mommmmy!’. And what Other Shoes are no longer is a pale petal pink slip on sandal resistant to the elements. Now they are greyed out and stained, though far more biodegradable than I’d previously thought.

If you’ve witnessed The Dervish’s wrath, and if you have to get to work on time, you’d do what I’m going to do: give it the old college try every morning with new shoes and fun socks, and on the mornings I get injured or have an early meeting, the fun socks will have to protect her feet from the Other Shoes for one more day.

One day soon, luckily before Fall is here to stay, the Other Shoes will be too small, and they will fail her. But in the meantime, I don’t want her to think that I didn’t listen. That her opinion doesn’t matter or can’t be trusted. That she doesn’t know what she wants.

Because what she’s working on right now is important — far bigger and longer lasting than the fleeting issue of what shoes to wear.

It’s not her job to make me look good.  This is not about me, at all.