My shoe theory has had many mutations over the years. Why yes, I do have a shoe theory, now that you asked. The first thing I decided was that I would never buy, or tie, shoes with laces. You could hand them down to me all day long and I’m just not going to go for it. Every time I see a parent wrestling a toddler into a pair of lace-ups I start to wonder at their intelligence. And then there are those gross pre-pubescent boys sloughing along in dirty trainers with their laces trailing in the gutter. Right, you can have tennis shoes when you’re 15. Until then, we’re all about the slip-on.
Originally, I was sold on the Merrell Jungle Moc in leather. Slip-on, sporty enough to run in, sturdy enough to hike in, classic enough to wear to church, and durable enough to pass down at least three times. The downside? They’re $50. This is still doable because of the value you can squeeze out of them. I picked up a pair used and gave them to Gideon. He wore them every day and passed them down to Jehu, who also wore them every day, and then I put them in a box for the next kid because they looked as good as new. Who buys stuff at Wal-Mart anyways? Still, I never seemed to be able to cough up that much money each season. And I wasn’t going to lower my standards and buy those wretched light-up things at Target. So I went to D&B. D&B has morals.
And rubber boots. I’ve tried several brands of boots and I’ve found that Northerner seems to hold up without cracking. In this picture Jael is wearing boots that used to belong to Gideon. And Pinterest solved the problem of how to make them more palatable to the girls. We already have pink grosgrain ribbons to switch out for spring, thanks to some tastefully wrapped Christmas presents.
My kids wear boots everywhere. They kick around in the yard with them, go to the library, grocery store, and even church in the same shoe. The best part, I only have to buy one pair per year. Every fall we have “New shoe day for Gideon!” So far no one sees the injustice in this. And I guess it’s our generally eclectic style that let’s us get away with it. I’m sure most people would not find wearing black rubber boots every day the solution to any of their problems. But I like it. The girls always have a colorful layered look and even at church their boots are not at odds with their outfits. As for the boys, they tuck their pants into their boots, add a bow tie, derby hat, and look like perfect English gentlemen. I’m still working on my summer shoe box, based on the same tactic. So far I lean towards Keen sandals for the boys. The downside being that they are more likely to prompt athlete’s foot in our more degenerate children. The pediatrician suggested sandals with a leather insole instead. But I have yet to find anything I’m truly sold on. The girls, on the other hand, inherit more flip flops in a given season than they know what to do with. Jael looses them just as fast. She’s notorious. I think as the girls get a little older, I would like to start a box of red leather Mary Janes. Red is the perfect compliment to every outfit and leather takes a beating. They can wear them with socks or without. A worthy investment. In which case, every spring we could celebrate, “New shoes for Jael day!” I’m sure it would be right up her alley.
It’s funny the things you start to think seriously about as you are slowly driven over the edge. Shoes just used to be shoes. But with seven people they become an infestation. Not to mention a money pit. Think of it, five kids who each need play shoes, church shoes, and snow shoes every year, if not every season. And then where do you put them? I’ll tell you. Anywhere they like. If you noticed, in the picture at the top there is a blue basket on my front porch. I begin my strategy by not letting shoes in the house to begin with. They used to take their shoes off when they came in the front door, and then kind of casually fling them around the living room. No more. I do keep a boot tray downstairs so their winter shoe can stay dry. But the castaways eke out a meager existence on the front porch. I’ve become more and more cautious about which hand-me-downs I keep and which shoes I will save over for the next season. I only keep the best and personally, I don’t lurk around thrift stores trying to pick up strays. Shoes are a curse. Less is more and finding one shoe that can do it all is worth it’s weight in gold. Short of that, they can go barefoot.