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Free Toes!: For Kids With Strong Opinions and Active Imaginations

Updated on February 12, 2014

Helping Small Children Become More Effective Communicators, One Foot at a Time.

The kid in the pink hair hates everything about shoes, and isn't afraid to say so. The sights, sensations and smells of feet that never see the sun can be a sad thing indeed. Through one adventure after another, the kid shows you why bare feet and free toes are the only way to go.

How an Obsession With Bare Feet Got Me to Write a Children's Book

Bare Feet Obsession
Bare Feet Obsession

One of the best things in life is the joy of bare feet. Now I'm not a fetishist, but I love being able to squish cold, wet sand beneath my heels, pick up fallen writing implements with my toes and feel soft, spiky grass tickle my instep when I stroll through a park. When you're barefoot, you get feedback from the ground, so not only does it sharpen the senses and bring you closer to nature, but more importantly, it makes you feel young, alive and comfortable. Once we grow up though, it's a universal happiness that we don't take advantage of nearly enough. Bosses kind of frown on naked feet striding through the hallways, and fellow passengers are apt to gasp at someone whipping out their fair tootsies on a plane. As adults, we get that making sacrifices for the benefit of the group is important, but kids, being self-absorbed and focused on the present, tend not to worry so much, and have a lot more fun as a result. Even knowing what I know about the dangers lurking on the ground, I'm pretty much with the kids on this one.

First, shoes limit sensation, so from a physical perspective, you can only feel part of an experience, part of the pleasure. Also, shoes are prone to making feet hot, sweaty and smelly from being so confined. I don't know about you, but I've gotten more blisters from wearing shoes than I ever have from bare feet. What's more, in this age of hand sanitizers and aggressive playground restrictions, being barefoot is one of the few acts of independence kids can still engage in that isn't frowned upon... yet. See a kid with soles black as tar and it's just a kid being a kid. See an adult with those same dirty feet and suddenly it's disgusting. Admit it, that's what we're all thinking when we see it. Most of us go barefoot at home every day, but wander around town in bare feet? You're either seen as a crazy person or a hippy (no offense to crazy people or hippies). The question is, why? Dirt washes off, regardless of how old we are, but for some reason adults are supposed to know better and be above such a disgrace. It's sad, really, but that's the reality.

Parading in public with bare feet is an act of rebellion of sorts. It draws attention, asks questions and is anything but conservative, safe or boring. I think kids understand this freedom, and I wanted to celebrate that by writing it down in a book just for them. Adults already have their minds made up, so it's hard to tell them anything, but kids understand because they haven't yet bought into society's fear, the conformity, the deadening of the senses. They know that turning cartwheels, skipping, climbing trees and running around just feels better without shoes, and they love it. Why wouldn't they? I miss this kind of playful innocence, and sometimes I resent having to play by the rules. It's times like these when I say, "Screw this judgmental and frightened version of society! Go barefoot, children. Have fun, get dirty, get hurt, and get over it! Run free, live free, and for as long as you can, go barefoot!"

Then I go into the nearest corner and weep silently over my lost youth.

Image: SOlvera

Free Toes! inspired guest post from Tales of a Ranting Ginger http://talesofarantingginger.com/2013/12/obsession...

Shut Up and Eat Your Ice Cream
Shut Up and Eat Your Ice Cream

Just Shut Up and Eat Your Ice Cream!

"Mum, why do you dye your hair?"

"Because my natural hair colour is turning gray."

"Why?"

"Because I'm getting older, and I don't want to look old."

"Why?"

"Because looking old makes me feel old. It isn't easy getting up in the morning when I feel old."

"Why?"

"Well, looking and feeling old just reminds me of how much time has passed, how much I expected to do with my life, but didn't, and how little time I have left to accomplish anything. Then I start to wonder if I did anything right in my life at all, or if the sum total of all my years adds up to complete and utter failure."

"Why?"

"Just shut up and eat your ice cream!"

There isn't an adult alive who hasn't been on the losing end of a similar conversation at some point. It's a frustrating experience, bad for the blood pressure, and something you know you can never, ever win. Alas, we all start out with good intentions: children ask questions, and adults do their best to answer them. But what begins as an innocent chat can quickly turn into a grueling inquisition that takes us further and further down a deep, dark rabbit hole from which there is no escape... and we snap. "BECAUSE I SAID SO, THAT'S WHY!" It's not one of our finer moments, granted, but it happens. No harm done though, right? Perhaps, but if someone constantly told you to stop asking questions, over time you'd likely stop being curious and lose interest in thinking altogether because really, what would be the point? Now imagine if that happened to a kid...

Kids are natural little Energizer bunnies when it comes to asking questions because that's what motivates them to think. If kids learn to stop being curious or speak up when they're young, they'll take those habits with them into adulthood. Of course aggravated adults aren't the only ones contributing to the problem; inspiration to learn is also trained out of them by schools that champion rules and test scores above all else. What a pity this will take a toll on a child's development; the loss of critical thinking for one thing, which are the skills that teach them how to think, but hey, students are temporary and federal funding is forever, am I right? Kids can learn how to think in college, assuming they get to college, that is. Or not. It's really up to them.

Critical thinking is what enables kids to be doers; it empowers them to not only dream up the most rockin' invisible deathstar spaceship that ever existed, but actually figure out how to make it a reality. Plus, it takes kids from believing everything they see on TV and going along with what their friends say to thinking for themselves and developing empathy for others. Further down the line it will even permit them to problem-solve in unconventional ways, away from the herd; a valuable trait that is in desperately short supply in the marketplace. Such a simple shift in mindset should be a priority for our youth and future workforce. There is absolutely no reason why this can't change.

An education that embraces critical thinking helps everyone. Kids need openings to explore, experiment and play with ideas, and this starts with questions, questions and more questions: the more open-ended, the better. We can: ask kids how commercials get people to buy things; have them explain why their left shoe doesn't fit on their right foot; or read them stories that promote thinking then ask how they would respond to what's been said. And whenever possible, we should help kids make this a habit every single day.

Let's face it, for the most part, children are pretty self-absorbed, and not necessarily aware of how annoying they can be. But a little patience can sometimes re-direct a negative incident into a positive discussion without the need to silence them with ice cream. It may take a time or three or seven to fully convey how relentless questioning can make someone feel angry, frustrated or even homicidal, but once a child understands how to use their curiosity as a tool, rather than a weapon, they not only become more interesting to be around, but are better contributors to society. In the end, isn't that what we all want?

Image: Romanov

Free Toes! inspired guest post from Five's A Fellowship http://fivesafellowship.com/just-shut-up-and-eat-y...

Isn't It Enough That I Want to Entertain You? Do I Have to Like You As Well? - When it comes to what influences children, why are we so sensitive?

To say the least, I've gotten some strange looks when people find out I've written a children's book and I don't like kids. I'm not really sure why. There are plenty of teachers who don't care for children out there; does it make them any less qualified to teach?

If you knew a children's book author didn't actually like children, would you still buy the book?

That's bizarre. Who would write a children's book if they don't like kids? Absolutely not! Someone needs to keep an eye on that person...

That's bizarre. Who would write a children's book if they don't like kids? Absolutely not! Someone needs to keep an eye on that person...

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    Sure I'd buy the book, why not? Good writing is good writing, period. Dr. Seuss wasn't comfortable around children and he did alright.

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      Kids I Don't Like
      Kids I Don't Like

      I Wrote a Book for Kids I Don't Like

      This may be an outrageous thing for a children's author to admit, but I don't enjoy spending time with kids. I'm not saying I hate them, or want them all to disappear, but inviting me to a children's birthday party, play date, or, God forbid, asking me to babysit, would be bad for all involved. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big supporter of the ideals of childhood: creativity, imagination, adventure and discovery, and practice them myself as often as possible, but some days it takes everything I have to just to deal with adults; the prospect of throwing a needy kid into the mix is cringeworthy to say the least.

      Now, I'm not an ogre: I love animals. The moment I see one: whale, chicken, bearded dragon, whatever, I immediately want to say hi, and would be happy to spend the day hanging out with them. But put me in a room with a kid and I immediately start looking for an exit. You see, animals are logical; they don't scream when they're tired, they go to sleep. Animals manage to eat their food, as opposed to wearing it, or using it to decorate the house. Animals also don't go into full-on tantrums when you don't let them hold something. This is behavior I can understand and appreciate. Human children, on the other hand, are a different animal entirely.

      Someone reading this right now, possibly even you, might be offended that their precious snowflake has just been ranked lower on the likability scale than a chicken. To that I must respectfully say, don't take things so personally. Yes, my not liking children probably extends to yours, but big deal. I'm sure plenty of people already love your children so they don't need a stranger's validation, and neither do you. Moving on...

      It's not that I dislike kids on a personal level (with a few exceptions), they just don't have much to offer me. Kids and I have different interests: I don't waste time pretending to like people who bore me at a party, so why would I do it for someone's kid? The thing is, I don't know what to do with children. I talk fast, gesture wildly and have a brain that moves a mile a minute. Kids move slowly, and they miss subtle things like wit, nuance and sarcasm.

      Most adults think I'm funny, but surprisingly kids, not so much. I'm uncomfortable when a child greets some of my best lines with a straight face or furrowed brow, but telling myself "it's not me, it's them," seems a little petty. And of course trying to relate to them on their level is nearly impossible. I have zero interest in Thomas the Tank Engine, couldn't sing a Wiggles song to save my life and have always found Sesame Street characters highly annoying. As they say in the movies, it appears children and I are at an impasse.

      So that brings me back to my fervent need to write a children's book, which is basically an act of self-preservation. Instead of complaining about all the things I don't like in kids, I'm trying to coach the little darlings into becoming as interesting and reasonable as possible on their way to adulthood. My favorite word growing up was always "why?" It annoyed the hell out of adults, but it taught me how to think and develop into an effective communicator. Everyone has opinions, but surprisingly few know not only why they believe what they do, but are able to defend their beliefs in a clear and convincing manner. This needs to change, and I'm hoping to help.

      Clearly I'm not Mary Poppins, and I don't want to be, but I am an entertainer with a mission to try to make the world a better place. If I can amuse children, from a distance, while empowering them to be more appealing in the process, I will have succeeded.

      Image: ryanlerch

      Free Toes! inspired guest post from Bubbablue and Me http://bubbablueandme.com/2013/12/i-wrote-a-book-f...

      Chris Eastvedt: Living the Dream on Amazon - My words are mighty and toothsome! Prepare to be astounded as I not only entertain you, but also make you think.

      Most authors stick to one genre to build their brand, but not Chris Eastvedt. That would be too easy. As if being an indie author isn't enough, Ms. Eastvedt enjoys a lusty challenge.

      Free Toes!
      Free Toes!

      Free spirits were never meant to be tamed, and certainly not by a pair of shoes of all things. The kid in the pink hair has some pretty strong opinions, and no problem sharing them.

       
      The Empress Rose
      The Empress Rose

      A small town, family drama with relatable, realistic characters, in an easy to enjoy format. It's David vs. Goliath on a hydroponics farm.

       

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        • ChrisEastvedt1 profile image
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          ChrisEastvedt1 3 years ago

          @Ruthi: It's funny, but I seem to get more support and understanding from strangers than from my own friends and family with kids. As soon as my people learn I'm not pro-child, many have shrunk away like my personal preference is a slight to their life choices. Either that or they're annoyed at having one fewer potential babysitter in their stable. Who knows? Anyway, thanks for sharing your experience, and for giving Free Toes! a once-over. You've made my day!

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          Ruthi 3 years ago

          I find your stance on children quite entertaining and can somewhat identify. I love children, gave birth to a son, but teenagers - now that's a different story! I feel about teens about the way you feel about kids. Your books sound interesting and, of course, as Books For Kids Contributor on Squidoo, I will be taking a closer look.

        • ChrisEastvedt1 profile image
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          ChrisEastvedt1 3 years ago

          Thanks for the support! Daisy, I bet your bearded dragon is awesome! I couldn't live with any animal in a cage unfortunately. Unless I have someone staring me directly in the eyes every day saying "Do you see food in my bowl? Cuz I don't see any food in my bowl, human." I'm afraid they'd starve.

          Susan: I always laugh when parents tell me how annoying other people's kids are, but that they're willing put up with their own. My cat annoys the heck out of me when I want to work and he wants to play, but I love him, so he wins- most of the time. Silly, silly people we are.

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          susan369 3 years ago

          Hi Chris, I have lots of friends who are child-free and I envy them sometimes for their freedom. People need to do what makes them happy. Some people are happy having 4-5 kids, some people are happy having none. Having a big family would make me go crazy! I like children myself but only from a distance. They're cute, funny and adorable but they're also very annoying. I only have one of my own and that suits me fine. He likes being an only child, so no issues there. Now, that he's getting older I'm enjoying his company more and more. I tell him that he's the person that annoys me the most in the world, but also the one that I love the most. He likes to hear that, because he knows I love him even though I find him intensely annoying sometimes. So, I don't blame you for finding other people's children boring and annoying.

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          Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

          I have a bearded dragon! I know several people in my life that just aren't that into kids, and I think that's quite alright and to each his own. For me though, it's definitely an enjoyable experience so far :)

        • ChrisEastvedt1 profile image
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          ChrisEastvedt1 3 years ago

          It's great that you enjoy being around children, kiwinana71, and I'm glad you found raising them so rewarding, but they're just not for me. I am, however, happily rewarded by the fuzzy children in my life, and appreciate the love and companionship they provide every day.

          I don't think anyone should be pitied or looked down upon for being anything less than pro-child: I know parents who never really bonded with their own children until they got older and more interesting as people. Everyone's different, and that's okay. Thanks so much for stopping by and taking a look around!

        • Elsie Hagley profile image

          Elsie Hagley 3 years ago from New Zealand

          Very interesting. Different to what I usually read in lens on Squidoo. Just wondering why you don't like children, sad, one of the most rewarding things in life are enjoying the company of children especially your own, watching them progress through life, I wouldn't give that away for anything. I have a sister that had no children, she is very lonely in her senior years.