I don’t like shopping for children’s shoes. I lose patience and it costs too much money. In fact, I think I shall remove personal shopper from my list of things-to-do-when-Spielberg-gets-his-hands-on-my-novel and replace it with a professional shoe fitter who will whisk my children away and return them to me only when their feet are adorned in perfectly fitting shoes; a modern day Elves and the Shoemaker.
My children aren’t too keen either. I was reading my youngest’s homework on her likes and dislikes. She said that the last time she went shoe shopping was the worst day of her life and I have to say, I probably concur.
I shall cut us both a little slack here. In general terms, the good old British shoe is not made for my daughter’s feet. She has unfeasibly high insteps and weak ankles. Unusually wide at the front, they taper into normal proportions at the back which means that a shoe which fits the toes, inevitably falls off at the heel.
The particular shopping trip in question is engrained in my brain too, except I remember it as three separate trips, each lasting hours longer than planned. The paediatrician had sent us off with a sort of ‘shoe prescription’. I’d agreed with her, in a sheepish, seriously wanting-mother type of way, ‘But it’s just so hard to find a shoe which does all that,’ I’d whispered. Or one which a twelve year old will wear.
It began well. ‘Yes,’ my daughter agreed, ‘I understand I’ll have to compromise to find shoes which support my feet.’ So willing was she to comply, she even deigned to try on a pair or two. Hours and hours later, even her older sister - dragged there as moral support, in the attempt to convince a mother who couldn’t possibly understand the importance of ‘cool’ over mobility (she writes, curling up her toes and denying the pain in her bunions) - was manhandling her feet into the only non-pump type pair of shoes and expressing with an exaggerated shake of the head that these would just have to do and she could remove the bows before anyone else saw them.
Compromises made by every party, we bought a pair of shoes. My daughter suffered them until, in great delight, she announced that they’d worn out. So hated were these shoes that she obviously thought the pain involved in potentially finding a better pair, was marginally better than being forced to wear them a day longer than necessary.
This time my eldest also needed new shoes. Her feet are not so problematical but her taste range is a little on the narrow side. Pleeeease, can I have pumps this time, pleeeease. Absolutely everybody else has…
Pumps for school? They’re so 2011. It would appear that they have been jettisoned to the stock room of shoe fashion heaven.
So, this is where I say thank you. Thank you to the powers-that-be that decide what shall be fashionable. To the god who oversees, I offer a prayer to ask that this particular fashion stays around until my children leave school.
The only potential black spot of the whole shopping experience, which lasted, oh, almost half an hour, was the concern that both girls would fall in love with the same pair of sensible, strong leather, lace up and perfectly fitting brogues. However, the fashion gods had kindly decreed that there would be a good ten variations in all sizes of this type of shoe.
Once home, my husband eye-balled both pairs of shiny, toughened shoes with surprised curiosity. Had his daughters really chosen these shoes for themselves?
‘Dad,’ the raised eyebrows answered him, not unsympathetically, ‘You haven’t got a clue, have you?’