Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Velcro and Character Endorsements

I used to have an aversion to character tennis shoes. I don’t
want my kid walking around with a Spongebob endorsement on his foot.  Plus, I think they are hopelessly dorky.  A horse on his lapel? No problem. Just no
characters. Things have changed.

About a year ago I took my son into Stride Rite. I'm a sucker for a good marketing campaign. He followed the salesperson’s directions, obediently removing his
shoes and placing his foot in the metal contraption that tells me what size
shoe I should drop $50 on. Everything was going great until the salesperson had
the audacity to attempt to put a shoe on my son’s foot. He freaked. He screamed
and made sounds similar to those he makes when the nurse is coming at him with
the flu shot. It’s a non-human sort of bird noise that is high pitched. I’m
pretty sure there were stray dogs howling at the mall entrance that day. I
reacted like I always do when faced with immediate stress: I had a mild panic
attack and got angry. I realize this is not the most healthy approach to this
type of thing but it’s not something I think about. It’s reactionary and
apparently I’m not mature enough to react appropriately.

I do care what people think of me so I tried to maintain
some semblance of outer calm. I took the shoes from the salesperson and
attempted to calm my son using soothing words and logic, “It’s just a shoe.” “It
will make you run faster.” This gradually evolved into, “What is the problem
here?” (voice raising), “It’s just a shoe for the love of all that is holy!”
None of this worked so I counted to ten and tried to get inside my son’s head
to find out why he was having such an adverse reaction to a shoe. After he
regained his composure and let out the last bird noise and a few sobs, my son
told me, “I don’t like shoes that tie.” I was floored. I had no clue. How could
I not know about this phobia? Clearly, he must wake in the middle of the night
in terror from dreams of a large pair of Chuck Taylor’s coming at his head. Did
he need counseling for this phobia? Is there a word for this phobia? (There’s
not, at least not one I can find.)

I decided that buying shoes with Velcro was a small price to
pay for my son’s sanity. I found a cute pair of Velcro shoes and have fought
him since the day I brought them home to wear on school days. He hates to wear
them. It’s a constant battle. Yesterday I was at the mall at the Disney Store.
It’s going out of business and I was taking advantage of the sales. My son was
with me and a pair of Velcro tennis shoes caught his eye. They were hideous:
green and blue with a picture of Buzz Lightyear on the side. Plus, they light
up. Talk about a double whammy. I took note of his enthusiasm about any pair of
tennis shoes and decided to let him try them on. He loved them. Sold. I paid
the cashier $7.50 for them, hung my head in shame for just a minute and went on
my merry way. My son had school this morning. He got dressed, down to his
obnoxious light-up shoes with no argument whatsoever. It took every ounce of
self-control not to bend down and kiss his shoes but I held back. I’ll keep my
newly found character endorsements to myself.


  1. I'll bet he was the hit of the playground if it was a little cloudy so the other kids could track the flash of light zipping around yelling "Buzz Lightyear to the rescue!!!"

  2. Yep. Been there. I was a much better parent before these darn kids came along. Who gave them permission to have opinions anyway? Great story. Great post.

  3. I so agree on the shoes! We have had a few sets of power rangers and one pair of light up shoes. I hope Elizabeth does not want princess light up shoes. I have high hopes that since she is a girl she will have better fashion sense :)

  4. The things we do for our kids. I'm more of a plain jane kinda girl myself, but whatever makes my kids happy, and things easier. Welcome to the dark side of parenting J, welcome ;-)~

  5. I'm so with you on the character endorsements. I managed to never buy them.
    My kids were enamored of the lights on other people's shoes, but they never asked for them.

  6. My biggest fear was that other parents would think those shoes were MY idea! Like I was a bad parent forcing the kid to wear something gosh awful. Great story!

  7. Actually, if they made light up shoes in my size...I'd buy 'em. I'd also but the ones with wheels in the heels.

  8. I used to think I didn't mind character shoes, until a friend gave us some barely-used Yu-Gi-Oh sneakers (and two pairs of Yu-Gi-Oh sandals). They were in perfect condition, so I could hardly say no, but something about the Yu-Gi-Oh really bugs me. My kids aren't into Yu-Gi-Oh. My son who wears the shoes doesn't even know what it is. It seems almost dishonest to put them on him, but then, he doesn't care, so I'm not sure why I do.

  9. Marsha they do have the shoes with wheels in them for adults. My sil got a pair for christmas and she is 38. Oh the stories I could tell with that!