Tuesday, April 20, 2010
The Great Shoe Showdown
When my kids were younger I had complete and total control over their personal appearances. I bought their clothes and shoes, I presided over their haircuts, and when they walked out the door they looked exactly the way I wanted them to look.
Oh how I wish I could go back to those days.
My kids are still young enough that they haven’t made any truly controversial choices yet. No piercings, no alternative hairdos, and certainly no tattoos. I’m sure the day is coming when we’ll have discussions over those topics, but for mom’s sake, let us take baby steps! I’m already having enough difficulty dealing with the boys’ first, fairly tame, stands against my total world domination.
The first shot in the revolution was fired over soccer cleats. When the boys first started soccer Joe and I bought them black or dark blue cleats. They matched the league’s uniforms and looked great in pictures. Cameron always seemed pretty content with conservative soccer footwear.
But from day one his little brother Brandon (AKA The Incredible Kick-Ass Beezo) wanted a style all his own and started making a play for white cleats during his first year in soccer. I wasn't having it. To me, white cleats over dark socks ranks right up there with knee socks and sandals. It just isn’t done.
Beezo persisted and we compromised with mostly dark shoes with a wide white stripe. I could see the way the tide was shifting and I wasn’t happy about it, but by this time our little guy had his dad on his side. Since Joe is the Grand Pooba of soccer in our house, I was willing to defer to his judgement.
This was back when I assumed my husband had an ounce of taste.
You can see where this is going. The white embellishments grew larger with each successive pair of cleats until Brandon was sporting all-white shoes. It was about this time that Jerame bailed out of soccer in favor of karate and don’t think I missed the irony that his entire uniform was snow white.
When Beezo talked his dad into bright red cleats I swallowed some bile and kept my mouth closed. When he ran around the field wearing striped monstrosities, I closed my eyes and slowly rocked in the fetal position. But when Brandon started eyeing a pair of cleats that were an obnoxious, screaming, in-your-face, hey look at me YELLOW, I decided it was time to draw the line. I said something like,
“My little boy will wear those hideous yellow shoes over my dead body!”
Both Joe and Brandon nodded as if they were processing my command, but somewhere deep in their souls I heard them snickering in derision. And the other boys were right there too, knowing that they needed to back their dad and brother if they ever wanted to make their own clothing-related decisions .
A few months later Joe resumed the pro-yellow campaign on his sons’ behalf. “They really are cool shoes,” he said. “A lot of players are wearing them.”
“I didn’t give birth to a lot of players, just two.” I shot back. "And neither of them are wearing those God-awful yellow shoes."
“It will be a lot easier to pick him out on the field if he wears the bright cleats,” Joe suggested.
“Did you forget what your own child looks like?” I asked.
Looking back now I see that Team Yellow only suffered my opinion as a courtesy. Because one way or another, those obnoxious size 2s were destined to find their way on to Brandon’s stinky little feet.
In the end, my Waterloo was actually Old Navy. I made the mistake of popping in to look at clothes and left Joe and the boys alone in Dick’s Sporting Goods. (Which is, of course, their favorite store because they can say “Dick” and get away with it. It makes them giggle hysterically – Joe, too).
When I met up with them in the parking lot, Brandon was gleefully clutching a crisp white Dick’s shopping bag with an obvious rectangular box inside and wearing a grin that wrapped around his ears and met somewhere in the back of his head. My eyes darted to the bag, to Brandon’s smiling face and then to Joe, who was looking everywhere but at me. I set my jaw and gritted my teeth.
“There. Better. Not. Be. A. #*@*$)*#!. Yellow. Pair. Of. Cleats. In. That. Bag.”
Joe finally looked at me, drawing himself up to his full 6’1” and setting his jaw right back. “They fit the best and they were on sale.”
We stared at each other for awhile, playing parental chicken. Cameron and Jerame stood nearby, looking back and forth at us like they were watching the most fascinating tennis match ever played, grinning as they wondered what amazing, dirty words were about to come out of our mouths.
Meanwhile, Brandon danced around the parking lot singing something that sounded like, “yellow shoooes, yellow shoooes, I finally got my yellow shoooooooooooos!”
Joe was the first to blink, but only because I sucker punched him in the stomach. As he doubled over, I leaned in and growled, “When everyone laughs at those shoes, I am making it clear I was not even in the store when they were purchased".
He stood up, smiling in triumph and the boys looked at each other with big eyes, thinking the day had come when mom finally backed down and gave into the will of the men in the family.
Those poor, sad, misinformed little idiots. They might have won this pathetic battle, but by now they should know that mom always wins the war. Because when it comes to clothing, now they owe me one and I will definitely expect to be repaid.
I’m thinking footie pajamas for this year’s Christmas photo…