Sometimes just getting little C. to put her socks and shoes on, and keeping them on until we reach our destination, is a major achievement.
It’s an exercise in patience for a dad, a delicate operation that if done incorrectly, results in a piercing wail from a wonderful but very opinionated 2-year-old.
When done correctly, all is calm and everyone is more or less happy. It’s a tricky, Jenga-like puzzle that once mastered is transferable to other problems in the world.
The latest round of the shoe battle happened this morning when C. and I were heading out to do errands. We had big jobs ahead of us: a visit to the farmers’ market and a shopping trip to Bel Air.
Before we left home, I put some clean socks and sensible brown shoes on C. and I thought we were in good shape.
We hadn’t yet left the house and she had other ideas. She wanted her shiny white shoes, the ones with the flowers on the straps. Fine with me, I thought. As long as she has socks and her feet are covered, I’m good.
Yet on the short car ride to the farmers’ market, she changed her mind again. When we arrived, I looked into the back seat. There she sat in her car seat, quite pleased with herself. She had taken off her shoes and socks, placed the shoes back on hear bare feet and then put the socks on her hands as mittens.
Something had to be done, but I had to be careful. Any wrong move could result in a crying fit on her part. I was one thin ice, but I managed to get to her to take the socks off of her hands. It was pretty cold outside, but I opted to let her wear her shoes without socks, just the way she wanted.
We got out stuff at the farmers’ market and made our way to the supermarket. At this point, as she sat in the shopping cart, I realized she had her shoes on the wrong feet.
Should I push my luck? After all, she didn’t seem to be in any pain. She was getting a little cranky, and I had already bribed her with a chocolate chip cookie to keep her calm. Rather than risk a meltdown from her, I decided not to make the risky move of putting the shoes on the correct feet.
Pick your battles, I thought. Taking off her shoes in the middle of this supermarket aisle and making things right just ain’t worth it.
That turned out to be a good move. I’m sure I looked like the world’s worst dad, with a daughter lacking socks and with her shiny, dressy shoes awkwardly sitting on the wrong feet.
But deep down, sometimes I know it’s best just to let things be.