When the school shoes hurt
Buying new school shoes is not a job that’s taken lightly in this house. After I’ve chosen the selection I’ll be parading on the school run in autumn-winter 2013 (joke), we turn our attention to the children and their ever-growing feet. I stop feeding them protein for a bit, in the hope that their feet will shrink to fit into last term’s AED 300 (£50) pair – but it never seems to work – so I put them in a very hot bath in case that might shrink them, too. But it never does.
So we spend the nine-week summer holidays trawling the shops of England, Italy, Greece and the UAE for DD’s Year 4 shoes. We look at 25 different chains of shops that sell school shoes. Clarks, Ecco, Russell & Bromley, Geox, Skechers, Debenhams, M&S, Pabloksi – even blinkin’ Baby Shop with its range of yuck.com.
DD looks at 70 different pairs of flat black shoes with Velcro straps – and she rejects them all (I can’t think where she gets it from).
Too flat, too high, too ugly, the strap’s in the wrong place, they rub my heels, they look like something a three-year-old would wear, I hate bows, I hate butterlfies, why is there a double strap, they look like prosthetics (she has a good vocabulary), I hate the flowers, they’ve got pink bits, I feel like a penguin, they’re comfy but I still hate them and I think I’m going to be sick, blah blah blah. It’s like listening to me talking through my own shoe collection in the morning.
So then we finally find a pair, in the back of the crappiest shoe shop in Dubai. When you walk in, you smell not the expensive scent of soft leather uppers but the acrid tang of PVC and glue made from the decaying flesh of Kazakhstani ponies. I wouldn’t bother but I know that, at the back, tucked behind the fluorescent adult Crocs, they have a couple of racks of children’s Hush Puppies.
And it’s there that we eventually find a soft pair of leather uppers that fits DD’s requirements. They’re comfy, they’re reasonably fashionable, they’ve got a buckle and the strap’s a bit further forward than normal, making them look more like a ballerina than a two-year-old’s first pair of walkers. DD falls in love.
We buy the shoes. For AED ridiculous (£ a lot).
I stick the name-tags into the shoes and DD skips off to Year 4, proud of the new footwear. But, on day two, she’s not so keen. The shoes apparently give her blisters. Both on the top of her feet, where the fashionably placed strap sits, and on her heels.
“Can we go shopping for a new pair at the weekend?” she asks.
Choking on my coffee, I point out that the weekend is not a leisurely stroll through four countries in nine weeks, but two days and Mirdif City Centre. I don’t fancy her chances of picking a new pair before school on Sunday.
“Oh,” she says, morose. “Then pass me the plasters.”
Well, I suppose that’s progress.