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I’d Be the Perfect Mom If It Weren’t for Shoes

I’d be the perfect mother at the helm of a perfect little family if only my children didn’t have to wear shoes. Yes, if we were part of a barefoot society, well over 90 percent of the friction between me and my children would disappear.

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This morning was typical. My son melted down when I asked him to put on socks before he put on his shoes because I’m sick of hearing him cry about the little pebbles that get into his summer shoes. He insisted on no socks, so then I insisted he wear his full-coverage tennis shoes. More bawling. Apparently, I’m the worst mom ever because I want my kids to spend their time at the park playing and not futzing with the bits of nature that seep through their permeable shoes.

Not to be outdone, my daughter had her own meltdown. For the 21st day in a row, she begged to wear flip flops to camp. Honestly, I could care less, but the camp rule is no flip flops. I reminded her of the rule that she seems to forget every 24 hours, and she burst into sad, salty tears. Fed up with the drama, I went to wait in the car, preferring suffocation in 90-degree heat to one more second of the latest shoe debacle.

And it’s not just a summer thing. Oh, don’t I wish it were. We always have the baseline tension born of my desire that they put on their shoes quickly and get in the car, and their opposing desire to touch every toy and try on every shoe in the closet before leisurely making a choice about their shoe wear for the day. That’s a given. Every. Single. Morning.

When the meteorologists predict a blizzard, I can predict my kids want to wear their Crocs (without socks).

Then, we add seasonal flair.

In fall, there will be tantrums because they’ll want to wear their shoes from last year, but those no longer fit or they have gaping holes in them from where they used their shoe instead of their brakes to stop their scooters. At the first snowfall, I’ll be treated to renewed pleas to wear flip flops, even though I’ve explained frostbite (and gone as far as showing them Google images of frost bite victims). Neither child has been persuaded. Thus, when the meteorologists predict a blizzard, I can predict my kids want to wear their Crocs (without socks) to the sledding hill.

We’ve had some random knock-down-drag-outs over my daughter’s bad habit of wearing my favorite Tory Burch flats in the mud. When my son was 2, he insisted on wearing his father’s Tevas to run errands. Our neighbors still tease me about his plaintive cries that pierced the sound barrier that afternoon I refused to let him wear shoes that were longer than his leg to the post office. When the kids get really annoyed with me, they break our house rule that we don’t wear shoes in the house — into the kitchen they’ll prance with their snow boots or street shoes, while I’m chopping an onion. Then we will engage in a good-old fashioned power struggle about not wearing shoes in the house. (I will have to put down my knife first, of course.)

It’s exhausting. For kicks (ha, ha), I charted all of our fights last weekend. Of eight incidents, seven were about shoes, and one was about my daughter’s failure to dispose of her used gum properly. Technically, that eighth fight was about shoes too, because the improperly discarded gum ended up on my husband’s shoe.

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I’ve tried everything to sidestep these kerfuffles. Nothing has worked — not bribes, threats, time outs, laying the shoes out in advance, deep breaths. Nothing. So, we’re moving. To a new place where no one has to wear shoes. Ever.

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