New shoes are good for the sole and the soul

“God made dirt, and dirt don’t hurt.” I can’t remember when I first heard that, but it is most definitely my motto when it comes to raising kids. I have always wanted real kids, ones who aren’t afraid to go out and play in the mud, to come home with scratches and bruises, that consider jumping in puddles, and I have been blessed with such children. So actually, it’s more than my motto. It’s my excuse.
Last week I had to scrub, literally, the dirt off of my daughter’s legs. “That’s what you get when you creek walk,” she told me in her matter-of-fact way. And my baby manages to get dirt in the most peculiar places, as if when I wasn’t looking she took off all of her clothes, rolled around in the mud, and stuck a piece of mulch in her ear.
But more than anything, my son has proven to me a hundred times over, that my motto has come back to haunt me. Followers of this column recently read about his three-week underwear, and I can assure you that that is the tip of the stinky iceberg.
For all the dirt that sticks to that boy, his shoes take the brunt of it. And I, in my maternal wisdom, have learned that regardless of whether I spend $1000 or $1 on a pair of tennis shoes, he’s going to put them through the wringer, and what comes out of the wringer doesn’t much resemble shoes.
His latest pair lasted just over two months. Last week he informed me that there was a visible hole in the front and when I went to examine them I realized where that horrid smell that I thought was the dog was coming from. It was time to buy new shoes.
So off we went to the giant superstore to find the cheapest pair of sneakers I could find. Air soles? Ventilation? Special treads? All no match for this dirt-don’t-hurt-boy. It wouldn’t take long for the air soles to be filled with water, the vent holes to be filled with mud, and the special treads to be run off to bare nubs in the gravel.
Ten dollars later we were out the door with a pair shoes that might as well been made of gold. Kids get strangely excited when they get new shoes. Not five minutes from the store, he was begging from the back seat for me to cut the tags off, and after fiddling with a pocketknife while driving 65 MPH (not recommended), his shoes were on his feet.
“Mom, help me tie these,” he asked.
“Can’t, bud. Kind of need to drive the car here.”
Sister, a veteran shoe-tyer, chimes in. “I can help! I’m good at it!”
But not wanting to jeopardize the perfection of his new shoes, he had to lay down some ground rules first. “Don’t mess up the laces. And don’t touch the white parts. Are your hands clean?”
The shoes were up on her lap, and while pulling up the tongue, she had to investigate to see where the shoes were made. It’s a game lately for her, to see if she can find anything that was NOT made in China. Because he refused to take off his shoes, the two of them contorted themselves in every direction, only to find that the shoes were—surprise—made in China, all the while having one of those classic adult-like kid discussions. Such things were said: Look at these treads! Nice stitching here. China has lots of people so that’s why they make so much stuff. How did the shoes get here?
All in all, it was a good solid 10 minutes of discussion over a pair of shoes that I know isn’t going to last 10 weeks.
But, back to my motto. God made dirt, and dirt don’t hurt. I’m just glad that China makes cheap shoes.


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