Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sparkle shoes... not just for girls. (At least we don't think so.)

            See these shoes? These are not just any old shoes. These are ROCK STAR shoes! Back in the fall of 2010 our family was not quite through the middle of a rough, year long, deployment. Daddy’s visit to Afghanistan was hard on us, and especially hard on his little boys. Finding ways to keep everyone happy and sane sometimes felt like an uphill battle. The TV was the quickest way to keep the boys happy, and thus me sane, so there were plenty of days I took full advantage of that. Before I knew it my oldest, Romyn, was reciting every commercial, demanding I buy Swiffer’s, asking if his cereal contained enough whole grain, and shrieking from the playroom whenever a product popped up that he wanted.

 (Groan.) The commercial that I was expected to rush in and enjoy with him most often was for Sketchers Twinkle Toes. Yah, those girlie shoes. Now I am not the type of parent to enforce gender rules. As the mother of two boys who happens to love glitter and nail polish I am happy to oblige requests for painted nails (monster nails) and Tinker Bell underwear. (They didn’t have Peter Pan ones!) Even today my youngest, Baelin, stomps around in a pair of pink kitty boots. (This kid loves cats, and I am hard pressed to find one that isn’t purple or pink. Luckily he doesn’t care and looks awfully cute dressed as Superman in pink boots.) I’ll admit that once I did snap at Romyn that a purple, fur trimmed, coat he asked for at Hanna Anderson was a girl’s coat. What I had really meant to say was, I will not buy you that 200$ coat just because you like the fur. But like some parents I do get tired of explaining myself all the time. The point is, I am cool with my purple kitty helmet wearing, yellow toe nailed boys. But I really wasn’t sure what Romyn saw in these shoes. He is in no way a fan of either pink or purple. Finally I asked.
“Romyn, did you mean for me to see the commercial on before this one? For the blinky policeman shoes?”
“No. Those, the twinkle toes!”
“Really? Those pink ones right there?”
“I want them! I loooooove them!”
“Why do you love them?”
“Because they are sparkly.”
“Well the blue and black ones sparkle too, when you run they light up.”
“No! You can only see those in the dark. These always sparkle.”
He had a point. I rewind the ad to take another look.
“Alright, but you see the colors these tinkle shoes come in, they are not in any colors you like. They are not in colors many boys like. They are meant to be girl shoes.”
“I like pink.”
“Really? You’ve told me feverishly you only like gold and black.”
“I like pink, I want Twwwwwinkle toes.”
“Romyn it’s OK that you want them, but they are expensive and I hate to buy you a pair of pink girl shoes that you’ll later decide you don’t really like. They just don’t make sparkly shoes like that for boys.”
“Why not?!"
Again, my exhaustion has caused me to say something I sort of regretted. If I had just said we couldn't afford them this conversation would have been over! I really don't care if he wears pink princess shoes. But the fact is, they are girl shoes, society says they are girl’s shoes, and sketchers says that they are girl shoes. (Even if he had lived a completely gender neutral life I’d like to think he is smart enough to deduce this from the sparkly pink, female filled commercial graphics.) I tell him all of this and that if I really thought he would enjoy them and wear them I would be happy to buy him pink Twinkle Toes. I would be proud of him for embracing something he loves. (I also point out that some folks might think it is funny he'd wear shoes marketed toward girls, and how he could respond to that. Honestly this Sketchers commercial was the current bane of my existence.)  I ended with something like, I know you Romyn, and you won’t love pink shoes. I am not going to be buying them for you. He ended up terribly sad. Dang. Well, why don’t they make boy’s glitter shoes? Maybe they did. I suggested that we scour the Internet for gold or black sparkly pairs. In the process Romyn describes just what he thinks would make the perfect set and it doesn’t really sound like Twinkle Toes at all.
Now at this point in time I had not seen any DIY glitter shoes on line, otherwise I would have done a better job with this first pair for the boys. It just seemed logical after looking at hundreds of sparkly ones with Romyn that we just throw some Elmer’s on a pair of Vans and roll with it. Finding a cheap white canvas pair was tricky. Vans and Keds are pricey, especially when you are buying two pairs and then trashing them with glitter.  (Really I should have realized I could have used any color, then I might have found a clearance pair, but I was stuck on white.) Finally I found some slip-ons at Wal-Mart for 5$. I ordered a pair for both boys and we set to making some Rock Star Sparkle shoes! Romyn was able to make his dream kicks, with lots of gold, his name, and tiny race car patches. (Those were eventually lost.) Romyn got just what he wanted, and was even happier with them because he had created them himself.  Having a project that made him feel special during Daddy’s absence made the days a little easier. We called them their Rock Star shoes. Baelin out grew his goopy green pair first, and Romyn his soon after, and by then it was all about the Crocs, so we never made any others.
I came across Romyn’s shoes in the closet last month.
“Romyn look at these! Do you remember these?”
“My rock out shoes!”
“They won’t fit you now, I think we should pass them on to B and let him make them over.”
“Wha…. Nooooo!”
“Ro. They don’t fit you. I will take a picture of them so we can always remember how awesome they are.”
(Grumble…Grumble.) “Fine.”
Baelin’s beyond excited by this, probably because he heard his brother really didn’t want him to touch them. Or maybe he had been dreaming of a new glittery pair. I was surprised he didn’t want to cover all the gold with green, his favorite color, and instead opted to add more. Pikachu helped him out, whispering in his ear when he needed more Mod Podge or black glitter to cover Romyn’s name. (Mod Podge this time around, not Elmer’s.)  B was actually home sick for this project, so perhaps Pikachu’s assistance should have worried me. Well, both Pokémon and Baelin are very happy with these sparkly sneakers, and I am happy they are getting a second life. He gets loads of compliments when we go out, and is glad to tell folks that he made them himself and they are super fast. When he puts them on he always says “This way everyone will see me coming!”
These are not girl shoes or boy shoes. These are sparkly Baelin shoes, and yes, they are a mess, which is well suited for a Rock Star!
        Rock on! -Kendra

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