The morning had gone well so far, but my wife and I were nervous. It was new shoe day. My kids were receiving new shoes that they had not picked out themselves (my wife bought them), and there were no guarantees that it would go well. A week or so ago, we tried to introduce new shoes to my son, Bronco, and it didn’t go well – in the end, he insisted that the shoes were too small and hurt his feet, so we retreated to his scruffy old Chuck Taylors. But, this was a new day and we had high hopes – in part because my daughter, The Little Miss, is generally agreeable, but we also had new, larger shoes for my son.

The first victim, I mean, child to receive new shoes was my daughter. My wife put them on The Little Miss and then gently set her on the floor. Usually, whenever her feet hit the floor, my 17-month old daughter begins immediate locomotion – she doesn’t always know where she is going, but she is usually in a hurry to get there with her arms waving all around. This time she just stood stock still in the middle of the kitchen with a funny look on her face.

In retrospect, I should have distracted her or played with her, but I was stunned to see her motionless, so all I did was watch. After a time, she began to cry. Then she began to stomp her feet and reached down to undo the Velcro straps.

Bronco, now almost 3-years old and wise beyond his years, was also watching this scene carefully. He looked at me and explained, “Daddy, she doesn’t like her shoes.”
In response, I picked her up, gave her a hug, and carried her into the living room. I re-attached the straps and placed her back on the floor. She looked at up me with a huge, heart melting smile, and trundled off in search of something to drool on – all shoe-related problems apparently forgiven and forgotten. Of course, by this time my son had stopped paying attention.

Time was wasting, and all of us had places to be, so I called over the boy and sat him on my lap. He seemed agreeable as I began putting his shoe on, and everything was going well – until it wasn’t. My attempt to put Bronco’s foot into the shoe was hampered for just a moment by a small piece of elastic that keeps the tongue attached to the sides of the shoe. From what I can tell – keep in mind that I’m no shoe designer – the sole purpose of this elastic is to make the shoe more difficult to put on.

So, because the shoe did not slip on as easily as his ratty old Chucks, Bronco freaked out. He began to shake his foot and refused to participate in putting the shoes on because he claimed they didn’t fit. I am unsure how he knew this without actually putting the shoes on, but my further attempts to put the shoes on led to a meltdown. I tried to tell him that the new shoes would make him run faster and jump higher (promises made to me by my parents), but he wasn’t buying it. My wife told Bronco that it was the elastic that made the shoes not fit and let him help her to cut it out of the shoes, but he still wouldn’t wear them.

I then hauled out my old friend, bribery: “If you wear the shoes today, you can watch Buzz Lightyear when you get home.” Usually movies are not watched during the week, so this was a major concession for a kid who would like to watch the Toy Story movies all day, every day. Bronco had to lie down to give that some thought, but he eventually agreed – that is, until I actually tried to put the shoes on. Then he changed his mind and had a little tantrum that led to a little break in the action. Meanwhile, his sister was happily clomping around the house in her new kicks.

After his enforced vacation, Bronco still wasn’t interested in the shoes. Minutes were ticking away in a morning that was already off to a late start, so I resorted to an empty threat and told him that he wouldn’t be able to go outside with the other kids at daycare if he didn’t have shoes. The idea that he would have to stay inside the whole day got him back into my lap.

I somehow managed to work the shoes onto his feet, despite his continued whining protest. Once they were on, I noticed that they were a bit too big. Unbelievable. His old shoes were a size 8. The last new shoes were a size 8, and they were too small, his current new shoes (different brand) were a size 9 and his toes weren’t really near the end of the shoe. Unbelievable (I have since gone to and found that their kids’ shoes run about a half-size large). I went to take off the new shoes, but before I could do it Bronco stole a couple of gummy vitamins and made a break for it – his shoes flopping a little as he ran.

Floppy shoes or not, Bronco did seem to run a bit faster, as my wife and I had a hard time catching him. He weaved around furniture and used his sister (still apparently fine with her shoes) as an unwitting blocker. When he was finally corralled, I told him that he could once again wear his beloved old Chucks. He looked at me as if I had potatoes growing out of my ears and pouted, “No, I want THESE ONES!”

So, he wore shoes that are too big to school and he gets to watch Buzz Lightyear tonight. You have to pick your battles and a deal is a deal.