From The Ground Up

Before I begin…this is not a post about a child who will not listen. It is not about a child who is troubled…or a child I should ‘cater less’ to. It is a post about love and a very special type of human.

These are my youngest daughter’s shoes. Not a pair of her shoes. These are her shoes. For two years. The only ones she wears. Every day. The only ones that feel right. The ones that she wants.

When she was a baby, she started with soft soled walkers. Then tiny light up Skechers. Then glittery dress shoes for private school. Then Sofia the First shoes for public school. She wore them all down to nubs. Then, in kindergarten, she started asking to wear her water shoes because they were “softer”. I bought these because they were waterproof and washable. She took to them. They were big on her. But she’s grown into them, and they are so worn they have stretched. I’ve provided so many options. So many choices. But these are what she wants. No bending.

We have one dog who has systematically pulled one of each alternate pair out of the cubbies and eaten them. Two different flip flops. One velvet tennis shoe. One water shoe. And two different Keens. Many winter boots. But he will not get these shoes. We have a rabbit who eats rubber if its on the floor. But she will not get these shoes.

My daughter will not wear socks. And I don’t make her. When all this first started, I was beside myself not wanting these ‘quirks’ to become habit. Not wanting her to be so particular. Wanting her to be flexible with her needs. Not wanting her to have these anxieties…not wanting her to be like me.

I have finally grown to not be afraid or embarrassed of saying that I don’t often step out of the box. I eat the same foods, travel the same places and read the same philosophers as I did twenty years ago. I watch the same movies and shows repeatedly. I wear the same clothes from year to year. I have the same hobbies. It is terrifying to embrace anyone new for those pains that will follow. Once I have learned to rely on someone, I do not let them go by choice. I like things a certain way and have quiet opinions on anything you can name. I know me. I suppose I am comfortable now saying that that will have to be good enough. And that perhaps dependability and attachment are not sins aligned with boring or strange.

Why, then, would I steal this simple comfort from my child. Why would I tell her she has to branch out, when even I am afraid to. Why would I tell her she must bend, in a world that is never going to bend for her. How will I teach her not to judge another if I express worry she’ll be judged for her own choices. For these shoes. For anything. Why would I expect her to change. With all that I know.

There will be people who enter our lives who will accept us. Wholeheartedly. And there will be many to pass through who simply do not care to know us. People, to whom, we will be insignificant. But…we are all a sum of every day that’s led us here. There will always be more to learn of someone. More to know. More to understand. More to care for. And that we are just as we are intended to be because of it. I believe that’s exactly the point in existence meeting acceptance. Of self and others.

For now, it is my job to be the one who knows her. The one who provides comfort rather than taking it away. My daughter is creative and loving. She is happy. She has already had to bend so much. She has had to recover from abuses, abandonment and suffered more change at six than most people do in a lifetime. She has had to grow up fast. But there are some things she does not have to change.

She is headed to second grade soon and she will be wearing these on the first day.

We are not fancy. We are survivors. Of many, many things. The shoes stay. And I protect them with my life.

Sam

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31 thoughts on “From The Ground Up

  1. I had a pair of high tops decorated with dinosaurs when I was little. I don’t remember how often I wore them. I just remember having them and loving them. Perhaps the memory is ingrained because they’re featured in a favorite photo of me hugging a new teddy bear on my first day of physical therapy. I’m sure I got a lot of weird looks because of those shoes and odd looks for other pairs. But it didn’t matter.

    Shoes are so tricky. I’d try out a pair in the store and they’d feel fine, comfortable. When we took them home and allowed them to leave the safety of carpet, they became unbearable. I hated shoe shopping and it was a luxury to find something that was comfortable for longer than an hour. Plus I grew like a weed, so they became uncomfortable for that reason too. Oh memories.

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    1. Aw, haha πŸ€— Those should have been immortalized in a shadowbox (not that I did that with little brown flowered Walkers). Many many times shes asked to get new ones and we go through the process only to get them home and she says “dont be mad but these hurt my feet”. I even started making her wear the ones she wants through the store to test a little more. If they made it to checkout we used to be good. But i think she just wants to be brave and get new ones. Maybe she thinks I want that, Im not sure. I just always wanted to try to encourage her to widen her scope back to where it was so I bought…a lot. Ive learned though that she takes on whatever she needs to. Just at her own pace. She will probably still be trying to wear these when she graduates 6th grade πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

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  2. Good post. Great shoes. Best thing….you knowing what’s right for your kid. Lucky kid

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    1. They get super stinky in the summer and lead to lots of dirt ground in to toenails but it’s worth it that neither one of us needs to worry about an argument about any of it anymore. 😣

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  3. Ya know, my youngest daughter used to wear those plastic dress-up shoes everywhere – heck she could hop-scotch, run, ride a bike etc in ’em! And if she wanted to wear them to the grocery store, I let her. Life is too short to argue about shoes.

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    1. No kidding! Its expression and shunning giving a damn too so all is well with me! When we had two feet of snow last winter, she insisted on these shoes full of holes, and no socks. For whatever her reasons, she decided that was more comfortable than boots or wearing socks. She never complained about cold or wet feet and learned to be careful where she walked. She handled it and is still alive to tell the tale!

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      1. my niece is 32 yrs old and rarely wears anything other than flip flops that make her feet smell like, um, ass. LOL her words, btw. I personally would rather be barefoot. Always.

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        1. Hahah! I sink wash MANY summer shoes in my house for that very reason πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ But it’s worth it. I’m not raising a city kid like I was so if I get shoes on her at all I’m lucky!

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  4. It is incredibly difficult sometimes to let our kids be who they are and who they need to be, especially when we know how the outside world is and they have yet to learn that lesson. We have these ideals as parents of how we want our kids lives to be, but they are their own people and they will be those people no matter how we feel about it. Sometimes that is a really, really good thing that makes your heart soar at how amazing your kid actually is on their own. Sometimes it is gut clenchingly terrifying because you know the path they are walking can potentially be harmful in some ways. Either way, it takes a boat load of courage to sit back and allow your kid to just be. It is a lesson I have had to learn over and over and over again over, the last several years especially. Know that you are doing a seriously amazing job of letting your baby find her own wings instead of trying to give her yours because you think they may be stronger or safer. Awesome job!

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    1. 😒😭😭 Thank you for this! And that is where it all started…I thought ‘what are people going to think at her school’ if she were to go around like that?? How am i not in control of this? And I realized how many years its been since *I’ve* given a shit that I wear the same favorite t-shirts, and tennis shoes. THEN I remember how crazy it made my dad when we would leave the house not making a ‘good presentation’. THEN I remember that I want her to know where and how to find comfort in her own choices and how hard that really is in life. Forever. Seeing some of her battles for what they truly are has helped us see eye to eye on so much…or, at least, for me to see HER eye πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

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  5. You’re a great dad, Sam! Keep it up πŸ˜‰

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    1. BLUGSπŸ€—πŸ€—πŸ€—

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  6. I loved this. She is so lucky to have a dad that knows her, really knows her, and treats her like the individual she is – not who he would have her be. That is the ultimate challenge to a parent, I think. To just let them grow into themselves, not force our own will on them.

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    1. I know I was harder on her sister…but there was a lot of pride on the table when she battled us. I think there was also so much struggle for all of us then that we were completely clueless. Phases, phases πŸ˜” This time is easier.

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  7. “I know me”. Yes. This. And, as parents, accepting when the offspring say it about themselves. We may think we know them, and in certain cases, especially when they’re still very young, we do, but allowing them to know themselves and to accept that….yes.
    Great insights, Sam.

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    1. Thank you so much my friend 😊Its funny because from her I learn *about* her. And i learn to trust that she knows herself so well. In safety and health issues I cant let go. But when you categorize these ‘smaller’ things…it really is their message to you that they know what they need. I heard something this year that made so much sense. -Your child isn’t giving you a hard time. They’re having a hard time- True of all ages and most struggles perhaps.

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  8. Maybe you want have to worry about buying her a closet full of shoes.I went to school with a β€œrich” girl who had 20 + pairs of shoes. I was lucky to have one.

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    1. Right ☺ We aren’t much on the material or excess here anyway. We go with whats comfortable and things we won’t have to replace every minute. And I *definitely* haven’t had to replace these shoes which seem to be built for war πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

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  9. So inspiring and exactly as it should be. You are a great father who cares for his daughter so you can’t go wrong with that. 😊😊

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    1. Thank you so much 😊😊😊 She is learning as she goes as am I!!!

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  10. ❀️ sweetness! It’s whatever makes things easier and helps us get through the days. Comfort equals confident πŸ‘πŸ»!

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    1. And that’s just it. She’s at peace and that’s the best I can ask!

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  11. Great post! My son, at 22, still very set in his ways, so your words flooded me with memories of days gone by. Good days and days of absolute struggle. There is a picture of my son in kindergarten, where all the children have their little costumes on and my son, the tallest by a head, wearing his everyday clothes because change was a no/no. Wondering if these little treasured shoes can be found on amazon? In one year, five years, ten years it won’t matter. It’ll be a precious memory. Wishing you both luck with back to school days!

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    1. Isnt it funny these strongwilled kids? πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ You look back and realize they have always been that way. I know for a fact I have always been this way and wouldnt know how to change either of us. And yes! I never know how she will take to those little changes…they can go horribly wrong at times even when she takes big stuff in stride. Its been so long I cant remember if i got these at childrens place or Target. But i did attempt a replacement from Target (which she was sad about) but apparently they are “too big”…which means shes just not ready. So there they sit. Indeed we will look at this as a tiny blip, if that, when we are years out from it. Thank you so much! We are both pretty excited!

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  12. You’re a good dad. And even though she’s only six she probably knows that one day she’s not going to get her feet into those shoes anymore. When that happens… keep them. Even if one day when she’s a teen and wants to chuck them out, put them in cupboard and keep them. When she gets to my age, she’ll be glad to remember her dad and her little pink shoes. πŸ™‚

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    1. These are keepers for sure 😒 Her little brown baby shoes are in a little show box in the hall and for a lot of reasons I probably won’t be able to part with these either. Thank you so much πŸ€—πŸ€—πŸ€—

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