Last Thursday, I bought my two year old a new pair of shoes.
That is the last time I have seen them.
What is it about children and their shoes? Why is a small leathery thing so darn difficult to keep track of?
Part of the fault is clearly mine. Somewhere I read that it is important to buy your young children high quality shoes because they “conform to their feet” and allow them to “develop strong muscles and defined arches” and because if you buy them cheap shoes, your kids’ feet will end up looking like “two mushy hamburger patties” and your child will be crippled.
So I have been buying my children nice, high quality, expensive shoes at places like Stride Rite where you have to go through a credit check before you’re even allowed in the store.
Now, why I decided to take this little bit of parenting advice to heart when I ignore most of the other stuff I read is unclear. I didn’t buy my kids any of those stupid sleep wedges to keep them from rolling over as babies. I didn’t insist on only purchasing organic, natural combed cotton fibers to dress them in so as to not irritate their sensitive skin. I didn’t grow my own hydroponically raised green beans to harvest and puree into homemade nutrient rich baby food.
So why did I fork over big bucks for high quality shoes?
The short answer is, I don’t know.
The long answer is that the one time Audra talked me into forgoing the “high quality” shoes and getting some trendy tennis shoes with names like “LA Streetwalkers!” (or something) they fell apart in a few weeks and I became embittered.
So, I just kept buying the good stuff.
Because I was a sucker and was buying my kids these expensive shoes, my kids only had one pair. We certainly couldn’t afford more than that. But that was ok. Why should a three year old need more than one pair of shoes anyway? It’s not like he has to find something to match his new handbag.
The problem is that if you only have one pair of shoes, then you always have to know where that pair of shoes is, because you have nothing else to wear if you can’t find them. But with three young children, there was always somebody who couldn’t find their shoes.
I told the kids to go put their shoes in their room when we got home, but I might as well have told them to construct a replica of the Eiffel tower using only matchsticks and spit.
The shoes ended up anywhere and everywhere. I would trip over them in the hallway and yell at someone to “put these away!” I would find a single shoe underneath a cushion on the couch and the other one nowhere to be found. It was ridiculous. There was a several month period where we were late for everything we did because I would have to spend 15 minutes looking for whatever shoe was missing. With three kids and 6 shoes it was a good bet that one of them would be somewhere strange.
And I do mean somewhere strange.
After time I learned that “good places to check” included the clothes hamper, the toy box, the trunk of the plastic ride-on car, the dryer, the roof of the playhouse, the drawer on the train table and underneath the pillows. These were all places I found shoes multiple times.
It was ridiculous.
Every morning I was spending half an hour running around searching every nook and cranny of the house for Asher’s left shoe.
Finally, I got smart.
I went to Ikea and got a shoe holder.
I told the kids that this is where their shoes were supposed to go and that as soon as they came in the house and took them off (as they were want to do) they should put them in the shoe holder.
This didn’t so much solve anything as create a unified place that I could yell at the children to take their shoes after I tripped over them in the hallway. So now, when I found a shoe, my new mantra was “where do the shoes belong?!?”
Whiny kids voices: “IN THE SHOOOOE HOLDER.”
This did have some minor success except for the fact that my middle child was too young and irresponsible to remember to put his shoes away on a regular basis, my oldest daughter changed clothes too many times a day to remember where her shoes were last and my youngest was just too darn little to even know what I was talking about.
It did help though.
But more importantly, I became wise with the passing of time. I began to learn where the shoes were likely to be. Audra’s were usually in the front hall. Asher’s were almost always in the playroom. And Micah’s were usually in the floor of the van where he took them off the second he was buckled up.
That’s all well and good, but the kids have stumped me this time. Micah’s brand new shoes remain missing after a week. I have searched everywhere shoes have always been and come up with nothing.
Using all of my detective skills garnered from a childhood of reading Encyclopedia Brown books, I have deduced the following.
• On Thursday, at approximately 1:27 pm a pair of ludicrously expensive shoes were purchased using a buy one get one half off coupon. The shoes were worn out of the store.
• At 1:39pm, the shoes were taken off and thrown on the floor of the van.
• At 8:14pm the new shoes were shown to my wife for approval.
That is the last time the shoes were seen alive.
We are confident that the shoes made it into the house and that Micah did not get back into the van to go anywhere with the new shoes. We are confident that they are on the property somewhere.
We have searched inside and out, in every nook and cranny I can think to search. Every once in a while I’ll be lying in bed and think “Oh! I never checked that one box of recycling out in the garage. Maybe they’re in there!” I’ll then go outside, and check, but it never reveals anything.
The shoes seem to have vanished into thin air.
I suspect robbery.
I know a few years ago (20?) kids were getting beat up and stabbed for their Air Jordans. Is it possible that a new pair of Stride Rite “Lance” shoes in “Sandstone” have created such a level of envy among the toddler set that children are now breaking into homes to steal the hip shoes so that they can be as cool as a “stride rite kid?” Is this possible?
I say yes.
With every passing day, I know that it is less and less likely that I will find the shoes.
The police have told me that if a pair of shoes is not found within the first 48 hours of going missing, usually they don’t make it.
I’ve gone on TV pleading for my shoes, trying to personalize them so that the thief will not feel comfortable wearing them.
“Please return my LANCE shoes to me. My son cries every night that he doesn’t have his LANCE shoes.”
I don’t have much hope anymore.
But still I pick through baskets of laundry, I poke around the play set, I search through boxes of puzzle pieces, sure that the next place I check, I will find those adorable form fitting, arch supporting, velcro babies smiling up at me.
But until I find them, I just have to keep hope alive.
Encyclopedia Brown is on the case and I expect he’ll track down Bugs Meany and figure out what he did with my shoes any minute now.
Either that or he’ll just find them shoved in an air duct or at the bottom of a backpack. Or maybe even in the bottom of the shoe holder.
Hmmm, maybe I should go check that.