Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Does it start with the shoes ?

     There is no way to write this blog without making myself look like a 100 year old curmudgeon, and I might lose readers early on this one, but like any good curmudgeon, I'm gonna tell it anyway, audience or not.  I was probably 6 or 7 years old the first time I remember going to the shoe store to get a new pair of shoes.  It was a Saturday, and my Dad drove us down to Davidson's Shoe Store on Main street in Canandaigua, and introduced me to the small business owner,  Mr. Hogan.
Now, heretofore, my shoes had been hand-me- downs, or I didn't remember buying them new, but this time I was getting a brand new pair and it was coming from a store rich in the smell of leather and shoe polish.  After we picked out a good quality pair that was within our budget, Mr. Hogan showed my how to untie them and put them on with a shoe horn.  He said that they would last longer that way, and not break down the heel, and so I was taught the "right" way to take my shoes and sneakers, on and off.  The lesson stuck, and I assumed everyone was taught, and used this skill, but my assumption proved very wrong recently.

     We were headed out somewhere and we were ready to go, but Nolan was lagging behind, he has a habit of doing that.  I watched him go up to his sneakers that were fully tied, and he jammed his feet into them.He spent two minutes wiggling his feet until he forced them in.  I was stunned.  I shouted, "Nolan ! Didn't anyone ever teach you how to put your shoes on? Stop being so lazy, and untie them when you take them off."  With a glance at my wife, I could tell that she was more perturbed at me than our 11 year old who couldn't put his shoes on correctly, but she at least let me have my say, and we headed off to parts unknown.  Over the next several weeks, I corrected Nolan as I watched him take his shoes on and off, but still my wife remained silent on the issue. 
Note the crushed heels
You could tell that she had chosen that this was not the parenting hill that she was going to die on.  I, on the other hand, think the small skirmishes must be fought, in order to get ready for the impending battles.  The point was there, shoes cost money (my money) and a kid should be respectful of how he treats something that costs me money.  Was I asking too much, for him to stop and tie or untie his shoes each time he took them off?  I didn't think so. 

     It was a few weeks later while attending my sister Meter Maid's Pig Roast (See - A Swine Time ), my wife made her move.  We had passed a large pile of shoes by my sister's doorway, that was made by the dozen or so urchins camped out in various rooms in her house. 
"I'm not saying you're wrong," she said " but did you notice how many of the pairs of shoes still had their laces tied?"  (I did not notice, but in my defense it took me years to notice Nolan doing it wrong, and I wasn't using the pile to prove a point, but my wife was).  I went back around the corner and checked, and sure enough, the vast majority of kids had not untied their shoes, prior to removing them.  The ratio was close to 5:1 tied to untied.  Not to to be defeated I quickly used the old stand by, "Well, if all those kids jumped off a bridge, would we want Nolan to do it? "  My Mother had taught me well, but my wife had taught me something too, and that was, parents were either not raising their kids with this lesson, or it was lost on the vast majority of them.  It was worth some further thought. 

     I did think about it all, and was going to tie this into how kids  aren't respectful of the things that we provide for them, and I think it's true that a majority of them aren't, well at least to the degree we were when we were growing up.  It may even start with the shoes.  Again, taking good care of the small things that are provided for you, may lead to taking better care of the bigger things that are provided for you (If my friend Tor wrote this, he would be sure to relate this to the Parable of the Talents, you can check his blog out daily at
http://torconsblog.blogspot.com/ )  Does this lead to kids losing or mistreating larger items, like cell phones and cars?  I can't say, but I found another difference in the two scenarios.  If you scroll to the top of this page, you'll see that my first pair of shoes came from a small, local business selling quality merchandise and I treated them well.   My son Nolan's first pair likely came from Walmart, and I doubt there was any quality or craftsmanship involved in their cobbling and he treated them less well.  So there were two lessons to be learned from my view.  The first is that, yes, kids should be taught to respect the sacrifices that parents make to provide for them, it's just the right thing to do. The second, however, might be even more important, and it is, if you expect to have your kids respect things like you were taught, then you have to work a little harder and find good quality merchandise, maybe from small family owned businesses, for them to treat well, and yes, it can start with the shoes. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How fitting a blog with this Saturday being the 2nd annual small business day.