Not too long ago I wrote an article entitled “Why I Refuse to Buy my Child Twinkle Toes.” I was inspired by the suggested writing prompt after working in a preschool classroom at my job as a daycare teacher. After seeing so many kids with these shoes I decided to give my take on the coolest pair of shoes known to today’s youngsters. And although it didn’t fit the original criteria for the April writing challenge set out by Red Tricycle, it was my most viewed article to date. Almost 10,000 views in two weeks. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the number. I was so excited. At first. For clarification, when an article is submitted and approved to Red Tricycle, it is then shared to their various social media pages. My social media platform of choice is Facebook. Knowing it would be shared and seen by so many people I was thrilled to go find my article and see what commenters said.
When I found my article that was shared on Facebook it had been shared 19 times. And had over 300 comments. Most of these 300+ comments told me that I was a mean mom who didn’t have fun in her life. That I must be “the life of PTA meetings” and that I “needed my own pair of Twinkle Toes.” I was so disappointed. I was so hoping to find fellow parents who understood my dislike towards that shoes that were so distracting and hard to look at. What I ended up discovering was a lot of perspective and a little bit of sadness.
I’ll start with the perspective points. In my article I had mentioned that Twinkle Toes were really expensive. Having grown up in poverty I automatically assumed that big brand meant big money. In many of the comments I learned that most parents found their child’s Twinkle Toes on sale at stores I never shop at. When I went online to confirm their statements I was surprised to see that I could indeed get a pair of Skechers Twinkle Toes for the same price as a pair of Target kids’ sneakers.
Another point I had mentioned was that the shoes were distracting and too bright for my liking. Many parents reminded me that I am no longer a child, so I no longer shared their excitement that comes with having shoes that light up. I had forgotten what it was like to look like I was lightning fast when I ran and how important that can be to some children. And part of being a parent is allowing your children to explore their creative and stylish sides of fashion, no matter how silly it may seem to us adults. Some commenters also stated that they were also teachers and also found the shoes to be a distraction, so thank you for that little bit of validation.
One final point that was originally lost on me was the idea of brands defining a child. Oftentimes a child is judged by other adults, who then judge the child’s parents. Kids don’t usually judge by brands, adults do. And I had said that I wanted my son to focus on things like colors and other things in life like books. Commenters reminded me that kids do look for things like colors and characters and lights. They don’t necessarily focus on the brands like adults do.
Now the little bit of sadness I was met with. I had originally written the article to show that I wanted more for my son than just a sparkly pair of shoes. I wanted him to learn about being a kind human with big dreams and reasonable goals. I wanted to share that I want my son to focus on things that make him a good person, not just things that make him look important. Most of the comments I read were ones telling me that I was droning on and on about not being judgy when that’s all that readers saw me as. So I apologize to those readers if I came across as the mom who only judges. Because if you really knew who I was, you would find that I’m one of the least judgy people out there, especially as a newer mom. But I also ask those readers and commenters to take an extra minute before hitting the “submit” button on that comment feed. Take that extra minute and ask yourself if the hurtful words you are about to say for the whole world to read are really needed. Are they really going to make you feel better as a person, or as a mom? What if your child was getting just as hurtful comments on her social media? What would you say to her then?
I was also disappointed in myself for not catching all of the “glaringly obvious” grammatical mistakes I had made in my article. Despite having an English degree I am not a good speller (my love of my life who routinely kicks my butt at Scrabble can atest to this). But I also ask you to remember that I am still a new writer and I am still finding my own writing styles. And I may be so caught up in the excitement of writing that I may miss or add a letter or two by complete accident. Just be patient please as I work on my writing and proofreading skills. Because I have a lot of things to say and I don’t plan on stopping.