You think I jest.
Patrick would sincerely like me to get a hold of myself.
Gus would sincerely like me to buy him a pocket mirror.
Guess which kid is easier to shop for?
I took Gus to buy new shoes the other day. He’d worn out his Pumas and been begging me to buy him new sneakers all week. I came home from an 18 mile run, and he started in on me before I even got out of the shower CAN WE GO NOW? PLEASE? PLEASE? PLEASE? MOM, YOU SAID … REMEMBER YOU SAID? … MOM, MOM, MOM … PLEEEEEEEASE I KNOW EXACTLY THE ONES I WANT …
“I’ll take you to get new shoes, but we need to be quick. You have a friend coming over.”
“I will! I will be so SO quick! I know exactly the kind of shoes I want.”
By this he means “the kind that go on your feet.” That is all he knows. The particulars he will work out later. Much later. After he sees me lying down in the aisle of Academy Sports amidst boxes and boxes of size-one sneakers, with a cold compress on my head and a Saint Anthony prayer card clutched to my bosom.
The boy tried on every single pair of sneakers in the store, with the exception of the chunky black leather basketball shoes that weigh about eleven pounds apiece (each shoe must weigh less than your leg; that is where I draw the line), and no pair he tried on was quiiiiite right. This one pinched. That one was too big. These ones were too uncool. "Plain boy shoes" "Farmer shoes." Etc. Etc.
I kept suggesting he try on regular running shoes and grabbed a pair of Nikes. They fit perfectly, of course, but the trouble was ... none of his friends would have HEARD of that kind of (crazy! weird!) brand. He needed something cool. And Sketchers are cool. Sketchers are what ALL the kids wear. Alec wears Sketchers. Darius wears Sketchers.Calvin wears Sketchers.
I hate Sketchers. I don't want to buy my kid Sketchers. I want to buy my son SHOES. Not a cheap amusement park for his feet.
So there I am watching Gus attempt to jam his toes into a pair of glow-in-the-dark, light up "SLIME" Sketchers and he looks up and sighs with exasperation. "Why are they all chimping my feet?"
BECAUSE THEY ARE JUNK. SKETCHERS ARE JUNK.
By this he was deeply offended.
"Mawm!" he said. "SKETCHERS. ARE NAWT. JUNK." And then he scampered off to try on a pair with a Ferris Wheel.
I kept thinking about calling my friend Ashley, who is a therapist and has an outgoing message on her voicemail that says, “If you are having a mental health emergency, please hang up and dial …” YES! I AM HAVING ONE OF THOSE I THINK!
Sensing my frustration, Gus started to panic.
“I’m the worst,” he said. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”
Naturally this made me feel awful. What kind of mother makes her son feel like he is "the worst" simply because it takes himelevendyberfuckedymillion hours awhile to pick out a pair of shoes? So I calmed myself down a bit. I assured him he is not the worst. That he’s just a typical kid, who wants cool shoes that feel good on his feet. LIKE THESE! I grabbed a pair of Adidas running shoes from the shelf and set them down in the aisle.
“If these fit you," I said. "Whether you love them or not, we are buying them and we are leaving this store.”
Gus paused for a second, closed his eyes, hand on the box of shoes, as if in prayer (which he later told me he was.). He tried them on. They fit. (Prayer works!) “GREAT! FABULOUS! PERFECT! LET’S GO!” I whisked him and the shoes to the cashier before he could change his mind.
I looked at my watch. We'd been trying on shoes for one hour and forty-eight minutes.
I can run a half marathon in one hour and forty-eight minutes and still have three minutes and 49 seconds to spare.
Just enough time to buy a pair of shoes for Patrick.