In the world of parenting there are long lists of “Things My Cild is Obsessed With That I Secretly Loathe.” In the two years I’ve been a mom the top ranking choices seem to be:
1. Calliou (need I say why?)
2. Goldfish crackers (they are the herpes of children’s snacks and crumble faster than a disloyal mob informant)
3. Mickey Mouse’s “Hog Diggity Dog” song (you can only say “hot dog” so many times in a song before it gets to disgusting levels, and that doesn’t even include eating an actual hot dog)..
4. (This is a very recent addition to my list, as I have only very recently become a preschool teacher and have only very recently had to deal with the headache that is:) Twinkle Toes.
For those of you who share my pain, thank you for your empathy and sympathies. For those of you that don’t, consider yourself lucky. Just a brief background, Twinkle Toes are from Skechers. They are the coolest pair of shoes a kid can have that can also cost more than eight gallons of organic milk and have the potential to endure seizures from the intensity of the colors that come and go (both marketing features that are not listed on the box by the way). They feature patterns and bedazzled toes that are a throwback to the ’90s while trying to be modern. And anybody who has ever dealt with kids understands the concept that children, especially their feet, grow rapidly. “Growing like weeds” is an underappreciated term.
Despite all of this, none of it pertains to the reason I refuse to buy my child these shoes. My refusal stems from something much bigger.
All his life my son be judged on what he does or doesn’t do, say, play, and wear. His self esteem will be fragile and as he gets older, he will not be able to ignore society’s harsh standards. It is said that children as young as five will start to feel societal pressures to fit in. Children who have barely mastered the alphabet feel pressured to wear a certain brand or pant size. They forget how to be kids just as they are getting good at it. And I don’t want that for my little boy.
So instead of focusing on brands that will be outdated in a decade, I want my son to focus on colors. On fun. On remembering manners and then rolemodeling them to his peers. On using common sense and saving cents. On working on being a good human being. So at Target today my son is getting a pair of blue sneakers put into the cart, next to two gallons of milk and lightbulbs that invoke light, not seizures. He is also getting a piggy bank that is in the shape of a blue elephant, his current favorite animal. I’ve already told him that the nickel in the bottom of my purse will go in it, so long as he is polite to the cashier at checkout. Later that night as he is getting tucked into bed he shows his stepdad the piggy bank. He tells him about the nickel I gave him when we got home. About the dime and three pennies he had found throughout the rest of the day. And he tells his stepdad that he wants to save up for a new book for his home library. And the proud smile he wears as he nustles into his comforter shines brighter than any pair of Twinkle Toes that money can buy.