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What is it with my boys and their school shoes?
The saga of the school shoes.
I was a new parent whose child was starting primary school for the first time. I was thrilled that my first born child was making this milestone and wanted to buy the best. As a parent it was a turning point in my life, a new chapter with new experiences to be made. I didn't see it as a hurdle, just another beginning. Price determined quality so far as I was concerned and if I could afford it why not? I believed in following the school prospectus to the letter in terms of where to purchase the school uniform. This for me meant that even if it cost an arm and a leg to buy why not? (bearing in mind that the shirts and trousers could be acquired cheaper in certain shops).School shoes stated black leather shoes for boys, but not where to buy them. Translation for me however was acquiring them from a renowned shoe retailer where shoes did not come cheap. It didn't matter then of course because I had only one child in primary school. I remember buying my little one the school blazer with the school crest (which was optional) only because I thought he would look smart and cute. He hated it from the word go.
Of course that was eight years ago, till there were two of my boys in primary school. I never really paid much attention to how often I was buying school shoes, till they became a little older and their feet started growing bigger. With every age came a related shoe price. The larger the size, the more I paid. Of course, my boys were growing and so were their feet. I began to notice the state of their school shoes. 'Mashed up' did not even begin to describe their delapidated state. My boys would come home with the mouths of their shoes gaping like a hungry crocodile or the soles hanging onto the frame of the shoes for dear life. Of course it didn't happen in a day. It was a steady progression of shoe destruction, but it was a fact that they wouldn't last the rest of the school term.
I began to feel the pinch when I realised I was making more frequent trips to my favourite shoe retailer within a school year than was considered sane in my books. Between my two boys I was buying four pairs of shoes in a school term which lasted approximately 13 weeks. I decided that if I wanted to continue shopping at my favourite shoe retailer for school shoes, that meant I had to be prepared to fork out money that I could not really afford anymore. The family was increasing and with it came its own added costs.
It may have taken me quite a while to convince myself that there were a variety of shoes shops that I could buy shoes from and not have to spend so much and yet get my value for money. I must admit it took some self realisation to make that leap because I was quite stuck in my opinion on where to get the best school shoes.
I began buying from all sorts of shoe shops. My purchase was governed by the underlying fact that I'd rather buy their shoes at a cheap rate, so that when my boys came home with their shoes looking as sorry as a drenched dog on a rainy day, I would be comforted in the knowledge that I did not spend an awful lot on them.
In the years that have passed I can safely say there isn't one shoe shop in my locality that I know of, that I have not purchased shoes from. I have even purchased from supermarkets that are known primarily for selling food products, but have expanded their market to include clothing and footwear lines; a thought I would never have fathomed years ago. The saga however continued; mashed up, scuffed, gaping and totally messed up school shoes, no matter the brand nor the price. By now however I had grown to a point where I was only willing to spend a certain amount on their school shoes.
Then my oldest started secondary school last Autumn. The familiar prospectus raised its ugly head and clearly stated, black leather shoes for boys. By now however I had grown older and wiser I hoped and wasn't going to spend so much on his shoes. I did get him a nice pair of black slip on loafers though which made him look terribly smart. Four weeks into the school term, my son comes home and the state of his shoes is just beyond embarrassing. I was on maternity leave then which meant money was very tight. I had to get him a new pair of shoes of course and went for the cheapest option possible. That didn't last long either.
I lamented the saga of my boys' school shoes to a friend of mine during one of our early morning chats. She also has boys of her own and she recommended a very expensive brand to me. She added that even though it cost a lot of money to purchase, I would never regret the investment, because it would last a very long time. Prior to my chat with my friend, my oldest son had bugged me for days to buy the brand for him as it was the 'in thing' in school. I had declined simply because they were so pricey. However upon my friend's advice I relented to my son's pleas and purchased him a pair.It was a brand I had never tried before, and as I whisked the notes of money out of my purse to pay for them I could feel my temples throbbing and my pulse racing. Only one thought was going through my mind - they better be worth my sweat and toil. That of course is history.
The state of the shoes two months later defies even the simplest explanation. Even the superb quality and finish of the shoes did not survive the wrath of my son's feet. When my son came home one afternoon from school and told me his socks were wet I knew that was it. Even these shoes in all their glory and retail fame could not survive that long. I took pictures of my son's shoes, mainly the soles, to show my friend. Stunned does not begin to describe her utter disbelief.
What is it about my boys and their school shoes? I just know from my experience that boys will be boys. No matter how expensive the shoes, they will still play football and kick stones with them. I know now its pointless to spend so much money on shoes that they wear to run around and play in because I have learnt that they never last a school term. I also know that they could make it to the Guinness World Book of records for being the shoes that were worn for the shortest time possible time because they were worn out beyond description!
What's your story about your boys and their school shoes? I would love to know.