I left it until the last minute to get the girls school shoes and uniform, obviously. I had plans, such plans, but much like those of mice and men, they aft go awry. Mice are probably better prepared than me actually.
I lasted ten minutes in Clarks before mohair fibers from Boden cardigans started to make me itch. I was given a ticket and told Charlie would be with me next. Charlie was having a bit of a time with it himself. The little rascal he was trying to shod was more interested in mounting the measuring stool. It must have reminded him of one of his (many) show ponies.
‘Do sit still Magnus, you need your feet measured properly’ barked the mother, then to Charlie hissed, ‘He takes after his Uncle Womble. Terribly wide.’
Had she just admitted she was doffing her brother-in-law, and what was wide? It was all too much for me before 10am. I prized my children off the shelves, where they were playing ‘cheese touch’ with a particularly hideous remedial looking sandal, and we legged it off to Auntie Anne’s to mainline sugar and carbs. Then we attempted Schuh.
Now, I don’t judge people by much (bwah har har) but I do think you can tell a lot about a person by their shoes. I don’t mean designer, crocodile leather like Jimmy Nail, or spiky Jimmy Choos. I mean, how tight are they laced? Are they trainers or walking books, because a hybrid shoe makes me feel slightly bilious. ‘Hidden wedge’ wearers make me suspicious. What else are they hiding? Climbing-sandals on the school run suggest a slightly unhinged parent, or one who’ll physically tackle you to get to the teacher first. ‘Gladiator sandals’ for dancing in? Wearers should be ashamed.
Obvously, I’ve never gotten over this hang-up, or should I say, turn-up? I have an idea of ‘what looks cool’ and I want to force it onto my kids. I have a penchant for ‘shire-horse-shoes’, clompy shin-kickers.
My middle daughter wanted a pair of Lelli Kellis with jewel incrusted, interchangeable straps. They were everything I hated in a shoe. We’d gone from too middle-class to no class at all. I ranted and raved and knocked over displays before remembering she was eight-years-old and wanted the pretty shoes all her friends had.
Then I remembered when everyone at school had Kickers with a wedge heel. How they cost more than my dad’s Silver Shadows, but how he bought them for me anyway. Would I wear them now? Nope, but back then they made me feel like I was floating to school (which I should have been, having spent fifty-pounds on Italian leather).
I bought her the shoes. It was the first of many letting-go moments that I’ll experience as a mother. Shocker-alert. Daisy is not me. She loves pink fluffy unicorns dancing on rainbows, and a different hairband for each day of the week.
How can I judge her on this, or tell her she is wrong? I thought feminists had to be fashion-shunning, Doc Martin wearers who wore ironic t-shirts and messy hair.
I’m wrong. My daughter is the kindest person I know. Always the one who tidies up, feeds the pets, makes her bed without asking. What sort of mother am I to deny her the shoes she wants, the shoes that made her feel pretty. The shoes do not maketh-the-wearer, who knew?
It’s hard to raise your kids to be who they are, not who you want them to be. They are not here to fill the gaps and missed chances inside me. The husband wanted three boys. I wanted three book-worms, born clutching reporter’s notepads, crying ‘votes for women’.
We got three kids who ’literally’ refuse to play ball. Who want to watch kids making slime, sing pop songs from the Disney channel and use bibles as domino rallies.
When we took them to women’s cricket at Hove on Sunday, all they cared about was being caught doing the floss dance on camera.
The husband put his head in his hands and wept. I moaned I was cold and wanted a cup of tea. When the camera finally panned over us, we all put our cricket hats on upside down and pulled zombie faces. We didn’t even need to tell them to, it was instinctive. Some of our weird rubbed off, and that will have to do.
I’ll never forget Daisy skipping round Schuh with that grin splitting her face in two. She paused in front of each mirror to admire the way the spotlights hit the diamante hearts and made them sparkle. I could not have loved her more in that moment.
I forced the ‘Shire-horse-shoes’ on the other two of course. Rome wasn’t built in a day and all that.