Thursday, October 14, 2010

Stubborn Shoes

I have a rather strong personality trait that most of my family will attest to- I am incrediblt stubborn. Stories about my refusal to wear clothing I did not like at age three are legendary, and it hasn't gotten any better over the years. To the great amusement of my parents, I am now being paid back three-fold, as all three of my children seemed to have inherited this wonderful trait. I am sure their tenaciousness will serve them well at some point in their lives, but at the moment it is merely frustrating!
The latest incarnation of this is my daily battle to keep a coat and shoes on Baby M (who by the way is not such a baby anymore because he will be 2 in January- yikes!). M likes to be comfortable and all summer long he got away with wearing sandals sometimes and mostly being barefoot. I did not make a big deal out of it at the time because it was 100 degrees outside and he was sitting in the stroller anyway.
As the temperature started to drop, I tried to introduce the concept of socks. M would not wear the new shoes I had bought him. He only wanted to wear his "sannals" (aka sandals) so I tried to compromise on socks and sandals. But every time we went out, sooner or later the shoes would come off and go flying, along with the socks and I would be scrambling, trying to make sure I don't lose anything on the way.
This continued on like this for a few weeks, Meanwhile it was getting colder and colder, dropping from 70 to 65 and then 60 degrees.
Wednesday morning, it was probably only 50 degrees when I was taking M to a gym class. As usual, we left our apartment wearing socks and shoes. A few blocks in, the first shoe came off. Then a sock. Then the other shoe. I was exasperated and frustrated. I had tried everything to keep these shoes on. I kept putting them back on his feet and he kept throwing them. It was a game now and M thought it was hysterical. I was also semi-hysterical, but not in the laughing kind of way.  I was really at my wit's end. Then I remembered a friend recommending I get him a boot or another type of shoe he could not remove.
On the way home from the class, I stopped off at a kid's shoe store I usually avoid because I gasp when I see their pricetags and begged the salesperson to help me. I insisted that they find a shoe that M couldn't just take off. The salesperson kept cracking jokes about having to move to Hawaii so M could be a barefoot surfer dude. He stopped laughing when M wouldn't let him put his socks on. In true stubborn form, M was yelling "stopit" and ripping socks and shoes off his foot faster than we could replace them.
At first the sales person did not really understand what I wanted and kept bringing me sneakers and shoes that all had the regular velcro straps M had mastered long ago. Finally, I asked him if he had any shoes with laces. He asked me if I was sure that's what I wanted, checked his stockroom and managed to find 2 ugly pairs of shoes that fit the bill. They were so ancient that they were not even that expensive.  But they stayed on and that was all I needed.
This morning, when we left the house I calmly put M's socks on and then his new lace-up shoes, which I tied with a double knot. Walking down the street, M tried to get to work on his new shoes but they would not budge. "Mommy-stuck," he complained to me. I smiled and told him that that was exactly the point!
I know I may have won this battle but I am not holding my breath. Sooner or later, M will figure out how to untie the laces, or he will move on to a different, more exciting way to assert his stubborn independence which will have me tearing my hair out. Until that time, though, I will enjoy walking down the streets of NY, without having to turn around every 2 minutes to double-check that I haven't lost a shoe, sock or other accessory.
Are your children stubborn? How do you negotiate with them?


  1. I have heard that our children are given the personality traits we need to work on...I wonder how that works. And I usually pull rank on my kids "I am the Ema - not you". Although I can't attest to that working all the time.

  2. I followed your email on the Rebbetzins group to this blog and I'm very impressed! And I love your idea of lace-up shoes... my almost three year old is always taking off her shoes in the car and the stroller...the disadvantage is that then it's harder for them to learn to put shoes on themselves... it might be worth it...