Footloose and Fancy-free

Here we are—a mere five weeks into spring—and already it’s time. Time to fire up the grill and dust off the mower. To haul out the picnic table and spruce up the lawn chairs. To fish for golf clubs and ball gloves and those glorious little tubs of sidewalk chalk without which I could not effectively parent. Time to paw through our summertime wardrobe for the Bermudas we pray aren’t too snug and to put away the parka—for good. We’re tired of the wretched thing anyway.

What’s more, it’s finally time to bid farewell to those insufferable snow shovels and subzero temperatures. Time to embrace the sun’s warmth and to feast our eyes upon all-that-is-green-and-growing. We deserve it. Winter’s been long and unforgiving, and the ice it bore assuredly played no favorites.

Indeed, it is time.

Even without the aforementioned harbingers of summer, I know the season of suntans and sweet corn is nigh. My sandals tell me so. They beg to be pulled from the depths of my closet where they’ve gathered dust since late October—a Hippie-ish heap of worn and weathered leather that has been all but forgotten. Out of sight, out of mind. They long to taste sweet freedom, to feel the fresh air upon their hide and to soak up the sun like there’s no tomorrow. I don’t blame them. My toes have pined for much the same since the first snow. And now that the warmth has returned to the Northern Hemisphere, the vast majority of my sensible-and-sissified footwear is in effect history. It’s far too unadventurous for my taste anyway.

My friend, Kathy (a woman after my own heart), is equally smitten with her sandals. Tevas, I think. The ones dipped in kryptonite and steeped in wonderfulness. That said, unless measurable snow has fallen and happens to impede her path, she wears them year round—with woolen socks, of course, for those unbearably chilly mornings come January. For my spunky hairdresser, Deb, it’s the chance to go barefooted she truly relishes—whenever and wherever the mood strikes. Shoes, begone!

My kids, however, have a slightly different view on the subject. My oldest daughter has virtually lived in flip-flops forever, sampling all the lovely hues known to man. In fact, I struggle to recall a time when she didn’t own a pair—or a dozen—or when I didn’t feel compelled to tell her to pick the blasted things up and take care of them already. As for my youngest charges, it is their beloved Crocs that whisper to them unremittingly, demanding to be worn, beckoning from the recesses of our hall closet. Oddly enough, they’re not as impassioned about sandals or bare feet; although the flip-flop obsession has struck from time to time. And the prevailing weather is a non-issue in their imprudent little minds. Instead, the calendar is king.

“It’s spring, Mom! Now I can wear my Crocs!” Needless to say, my heathens have been schlepping around in the silly things ever since the lions of March roared in. Sans socks—gasp! Thus far, however, I have won the battle over wearing them to school. But I’m losing the war, which bears an uncanny resemblance to last spring’s Croc-related debate. Arrrrrg.

“Come on, Mom; it’s really HOT during recess. So-and-so’s mom lets her wear Crocs to school and nothing bad ever happened to her feet,” my charges allege, attempting to shame me into allowing that which will make me crazy with worry for the entire school day. (That, coupled with the completely unfounded fear that they will be trampled to death by a herd of third-graders en route to the cafeteria, many of whom will be sporting Crocs).

Naturally, I fight the urge to employ scare tactics (doused with sarcasm) in response: “Go ahead and wear your stupid Crocs! But if you break your ankles, don’t come running to me!” Instead, I opt for something more like: “So-and-so doesn’t live here, does she?”

“No, but if she did, she wouldn’t like it.”

Enough said. I am the most horrible mother on the face of the earth. One who has the audacity to wear less-than-protective footwear in front of the children simply to torment them.

Eventually, I will cave. The mercury will continue to climb and my argument will fail. They will wear their moronic, slippity-dippity Crocs to school and I will be forced to overcome the apprehension I feel over the fate of their feet. Woe is me.

Thankfully I can slip into my comfy sandals—a happy hypocrite—and forget about the whole ordeal.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (in sandals much of the time).

Copyright 2009 Melinda L. Wentzel


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