If she could only put this kind of determination into her chores

Mabel and Ike just got home from school, and I heard her telling him, “Lately I’ve been promising myself or other people I’ll do stupid things, and then I do everything I can to keep that promise.  Like, my friends and I found a granola bar in its wrapper and I said if they buried it in the snow then later we’d dig it out and I’d eat it, but now more snow got piled on top, and I’m going to try my hardest to dig it out and eat it.”  I came down the stairs, and Mabel looked up at me and said, “I walked home barefoot.”  “What?  All the way?”  “Yes.  I promised myself I would, so I did.  On the ice and snow, in some places.  I almost cried–I promised myself I wouldn’t put my feet in my boots so I was walking on top of them but my feet would slide off so finally I just carried them.”

I really don’t yet know how to feel about this.  At least it’s kind of warm outside today.  And the soles of Mabel’s feet look red and so do her toes, but I don’t think they’re frostbitten.  (The first thing I told Mabel was, “You could have gotten hypothermia on your feet,” and Ike corrected me, “No, you mean frostbite.”)

Heaven forbid anyone ever triple-dog-dares Mabel to anything really dangerous.

The other thing is that my sisters and I had  shoe aversion issues in our youth, and apparently it’s genetic.*


*Youthful shoe-aversion stories:

1.  When I was in grade school I thought the thick callouses on the soles of my mom’s feet were fascinating, and I also thought it would be brave and Maid Marian-esque* to have tough-soled feet, so to that end I went barefoot all summer.  I got to where I could comfortably walk barefoot across asphalt in hundred-degree weather.**

*In my conception of Maid Marian, she was as lithe and brave and adventurous as Robin Hood, and would help to guide the Merry Men silently through the forest.

**One time my sister Mary and I also embroidered in the callouses on the soles of our feet.

2. I used to walk around my high school barefoot.  I remember school counselors stopping me and telling me to put my shoes on.  I also remember how black my soles were, which makes me cringe now.

3. One time after arriving home from a high school dance, we had to turn around and take my sister Mary back because she’d forgotten her shoes at the dance.  We always removed our shoes at dances, but I thought it was exceptional to actually forget to put them back on afterwards.  Also, I’m pretty sure this was in dead winter.

4.  To help prevent future shoe losses, for a birthday gift for Mary our friend Dave made a contraption consisting of a belt with long elastics hanging down from each side of the waist, and shoes attached to the elastics.

5. [Added from my sister Lili’s comment] Also, you left out the story where a neighbor asked mom if Suzy needed shoes, because she’d seen Suzy walking home shoeless in the dead of winter. Mom was terribly embarrassed to realize that Suzy’s shoe aversion had made some people think that she wouldn’t make sure her daughter had shoes to wear. [I’m just waiting for my neighbors to ask me similar questions about Mabel.]

Ah, the folly of youth.

I do love shoes now and wear them regularly.  I think having been a missionary in urban areas of Belgium and northern France, with their much dog-pooped-upon streets, may have been what cured me.

Warmer times.  Mabel found this palm frond-like thing on an abandoned lot by the rental condo where we stayed in St. George, and has been wanting me to put this photo on my blog.  It does seem preferable to a photo of her nearly-frostbitten toes.

This entry was posted in Me thinking about stuff, My kids actually are funny (and sweet and wonderful), Parenting. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to If she could only put this kind of determination into her chores

  1. TARA says:

    This made me giggle, at least the shoe-aversion stories. And you know I totally buy that the dog doo filled streets of our mission were the cure!

  2. Mrs. Organic says:

    A mind over matter champ.

    Embroidery? Really? Totally impressive.

  3. momadom says:

    Honestly, what I take from this – amazing will, true character, creative thinking, and delightful quirkiness – all good in my book! 🙂

  4. Lili says:

    Ew. I’d forgotten about the embroidery. Sick.

    Also, you left out the story where a neighbor asked mom if Suzy needed shoes, because she’d seen Suzy walking home shoeless in the dead of winter. Mom was terribly embarrassed to realize that Suzy’s shoe aversion had made some people think that she didn’t have enough money to provide her daughter with shoes.

    Also, living in Europe also cured me of shoe-less-ness. (Though I still would wear flip-flops in London, even though it really grossed me out if I thought about it too much).

    • the MomB says:

      It didn’t embarrass me that people might think I didn’t have money, but rather that I wouldn’t make sure my kids had shoes. Subtle but significant difference.

      • zstitches says:

        I’ll change it. 🙂 And yes, that is my fear, rather than the other.

        • zstitches says:

          Also, I’m now thinking “shoe aversion” is the wrong term–better would be “shoe indifference” or “love of going barefoot.”

          Also, I’m not sure if I want to write a new post for this, so I’ll let it get buried here, but one of my toddlers (can’t remember now which kid) used to say “better foot” for “bare foot.”

    • the MomB says:

      That’s OK Lil!

  5. Stephen says:

    How fondly I recall summers in Tacoma when the only time I had to wear shoes was to go to church. Callouses so thick on my feet I could pick blackberries barefoot or walk on barnacle strewn beaches.

  6. Virginia Wood says:

    I think my most embarrassing times in life involved things my kids did that other adults noticed. One event was so stupid that I almost yanked my kid permanently from school to home teach him. (That admission at least lets the girls off the hook this time!)

    I think momadon’s comment should have come to me early in my child raising efforts. I still cringe over things that I do (or my husband or other family members do) that might cause other adults to make mental or actual judgemental pronouncements about us. I should have practiced “stupid acts” like your daughter. It would have made me a stronger, less timid person in social situations.

    There are a few people I consiously avoid because I fear their mental judgemental comments about the way I live my life. There is at least one person I try not to let through my front door because I can see her mentally assessing my homemaking skills every time she visits. Why should I care what she thinks?

    Aunt Ginger

  7. Are you sure you’re not part Hawaiian? 🙂 I don’t know how I would fare barefoot in the snow, but I spent the most part of my youth shoeless and had a pair of “good” slippers that were acceptable to wear to church! 🙂

    • zstitches says:

      I would love to think I had even a little Hawaiian blood but I very much doubt it. On the other hand, I’m told there’s some Wampanoag blood in Dean’s mom’s ancestry–but I think they at least wore moccasins.

  8. Mary says:

    My feet are so hobbitish I could do three laps around the shire and never feel a thing. My husband’s, on the other foot, are smooth and soft. Chinese people are seldom barefoot. I don’t think my husband’s feet have ever met the floor, he even wears slippers in the shower.

    I grew up in St. George and I remember burrying a palm branch in the dirt and promising my friends I’d eat it later, but we were never able to find it again. It looked just like the one your daughter has in that picture. I think the only fair thing to do now is make her eat it.

    • zstitches says:

      We left it behind but I’ll bear that in mind for next time. It can’t be too different from hearts of palm, right? Put a little ketchup on it . . .

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