Shoeless Joe

Empty shoes and snackClay wears sneakers all day at school, but the moment he comes in our back door off they come. The picture to the left is the view one minute after Clay came home from school on Friday. A visit to the afternoon snacks and removal of the sneakers. It is not such a bad thing inside—although we have an old farmhouse with irregular wooden floors—because he keeps his socks on. The dilemma is outside.

In warm weather, trying to keeping Clay inside is like standing between a fat lady and an ice cream cone. Ultimately, you are going to wind up with an empty hand, counting to make sure you still have all 10 sticky fingers. Problem is that he is always on the move—inside, outside, inside, outside—and every time he comes in, flinging the door wide open, the shoes come off. We gave up on trying to keep the door that leads from the kitchen to the backyard closed. I found a screen that hangs in the doorway. (Watching the dog figure that out was worth the price. He looked at it as an impenetrable barrier until a biscuit was placed on the other side. Suddenly, he was Stephen Hawking mastering the great mysteries of the universe.)

We fought the good fight for a couple of weeks a few summers back. Clay would come in, take his sneakers off, then head back outside. We would stop him. “You need to put your shoes on, if you are going outside.” Then we would help him put his shoes back on. A minute or two later he was back inside taking his shoes off. We tried shoes with velcro closures, slip-on boating shoes, flip-flops, water shoes. Didn’t matter. Always the same process would repeat itself. The battle would rage for hours until, exhausted, we would lock the door and tell Clay it was time to stay inside for awhile.

I was venting about this situation to a friend at work, who, while trying not to look at me like I was a complete idiot, suggested that we forget the great sneaker war and just buy a lot of cheap socks. So simple. So smart. Renowned Chinese philosopher Bruce Lee said, “Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.”

Now, we keep an eye out for sales on socks. (Joe Boxer socks at Kmart fit the bill. Thick. Comfy. Don’t wear through as easily. You can generally get a second pair at half price.)

As a lesser known Chinese philosopher, Lao-tzu, said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” He didn’t say anything about not making that journey in your socks.

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