I am literally shaking right now. I’m in a coffee shop, miles from home in the faraway land of Lee’s Summit. My nerves are frayed and my confidence is shaken. I’m trying to recover from dropping my kids off at day camp.
Getting the kids up, monitoring them as they dressed, feeding them, buckling them in the car, that all went OK. We found it, we were on time.
There was just one nagging little problem throughout the process. Sylvia, my little angel who is historically my “easy child,” was having issues.
“What’s wrong, Sylvia?” I asked.
“I don’t like my shoes.”
Wait a minute. I’m afraid you may not have read that in the proper tone of voice. Let me help you. First, wrinkle your face up, distorted enough that you can’t get your eyes open all the way. Now, your voice needs to be a cry. Not just any cry, but that gravely cry that will give you a sore throat later. Yes, you’re getting it. Now, holler as loud as you can. Louder. Still louder. You’re getting it now. You’re wailing in hysterical outrage.
You’ve got the voice down. Here we go:
“I DON’T LIKE,” (insert hiccuppy gasp of air and gear up to get even louder) “MY SHOOOOES!!!” Her freshly brushed hair had exploded to rival Einstein’s coif, and her face was beet red. She was wound around my leg like a boa constrictor.
It’s not like the kid has no shoes. She has lots of them – way more than I do. She has cute shoes, practical shoes, expensive shoes, sporty shoes, sparkly shoes, thrift store shoes, rhinestone shoes, tie shoes, garage sale shoes, buckle shoes, elastic shoes, Velcro shoes …and that’s just a start. We have hand-me-downs. Gifts. Shoes I picked out. Shoes she picked out herself.
If you look at the kid’s feet on any given day, you’d think she was suffering some kind of shoe shortage. There are basically two pairs she’s willing to wear, and wear them she has. Which means they’re scuffed, frayed, and now they’re too small. People assume she needs shoes and try to help her out by sending more our way. More unacceptable, inexplicably offensive shoes.
What she really has is some sort of shoe phobia. An anti-shoe lunacy. She doesn’t need shoes. She needs therapy.
I walked her into the camp class in her unsatisfactory shoes. It’s an animal camp, and a variety of live birds were spread out in cages. Happy kids ran all over, oohing and aahing over all the birds. They greeted new friends, and the leader chatted with parents.
Sylvia clung to my leg sobbing. Hoarse now, she croaked her deranged mantra, again. “I don’t like my shoes.”
Here’s the thing about dropping off the crying kid. I know that once the mom leaves the premises, the kid usually pulls him/herself together. People tell you, “The longer you stay, the longer the crying lasts.” I believe this. My fear wasn’t really that she’d keep crying irrationally – I was ready to get far, far away from all that. My concern was for the poor leader would have to deal with it. I was worried the camp leader, a dad, might not have signed up for fashion-related female hysteria.
There was one person in the class who is used to it. I unclamped her from my leg and hooked her onto poor Cooper. His eyes grew wide, and he patted her back in tentative big-brotherly assurance.
I escaped and high-tailed it to my car without looking back. I’m strategically planning for tomorrow. So far my possible plans involve heavy sedation, buying her an entire shoe store or just letting her go barefoot. Wish me luck.
Overland Park mom and 913 freelancer Emily Parnell blogs at mom2momkc.com.