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But Everyone Else Has Them!!

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All Emily needed was a simple pair of white shoes that could be worn with casual dresses. This was the only pair of shoes that she needed for school. In the past I’ve just bought her a pair of nicer Keds and was done with it.

This year, it was more complicated.

The first time I remember wanting something because everyone else had one, it was a Cabbage Patch Doll. Parents were standing in line all night, fighting each other to get Cabbage Patch Dolls for their children. It was the first time a toy created such a frenzy among parents desperate to make their kids happy. They were the thing to have.

So, of course, that means I didn’t get one. Things like that just were completely off the radar screen for my parents. It didn’t matter what it was - Guess Jeans, Ray Ban sunglasses, Pound Puppies, Esprit clothing: I never had anything that was “cool” while it was still cool. Once no one wanted them anymore and the price came down, then I might, but that was worse than not having it at all. It’s much worse to be a lagging behind, wanna-be cool kid than to never have been one at all.

So I did the next best thing: I faked it. My big opportunity came when my brother’s girlfriend left a shopping bag from The Limited at the house. I had never bought so much as a pair of socks at that place, but I knew it was one of the cool places to shop because cool girls at school carried their gym clothes in it to show off the fact that they’d been there. So, I couldn’t believe my luck in having this shopping bag! I commandeered it and carried my gym clothes to school in it as though I had actually shopped there in anything close to reality. And, man, was I proud of that bag!

Uh, pretty pathetic, huh?

So, what was it for you? Because, you know there was something you wanted just to be cool. Everyone did. And, if we’re honest, we still do, unless we’re wise enough to see it for what it is and opt out.

But, kids aren’t wise. They just want people to like them, and in school unfortunately that usually involves having the things that the cool kids have. It can be pretty vicious in the insular world of school. I guess remembering this is what made me have some sympathy for my daughter, then when she begged me while shoe shopping:

“Mom, PLEASE. PLEASE can I have a pair of Skechers? PLEASE?”

“Why do you want them?” I asked. “These Keds are just as good.”

“They’re just cool. I like how they look.”

But I knew it wasn’t about how they looked. It was because they were Skechers. And apparently Skechers are the shoes to have right now.

This was the first time I’d ever seen this sort of peer pressure in Emily in regards to material things, and it took me by surprise. I guess I thought I’d successfully brainwashed them into not caring about such things. How stupid of me.

So what was I to do? On the one hand, I didn’t want to reinforce the superficial kind of thinking that brand names and trends define who we are. I want my children to be confident in themselves without such things. And I don’t want them to be spoiled into thinking it’s normal to do things like spend $45 on a pair of kids shoes. Because it’s not!

But - I remembered what it was like to want something so badly because you want - just for once - to fit in. So I wavered.

But in the end, practicality won out, because there was NO WAY I was spending $45 on shoes for her.

To Emily’s credit, she didn’t whine or complain. She was disappointed, but she understood my explanation and went along with it, and said that maybe she could just get the look alike ones at Payless. But I knew she really wanted those Skechers. Bad.

So I embarked on a two week long oddysey in search for the impossible: A pair of white Skechers that she could wear with both pants and casual dresses for under $25. Because $25 was my absolute limit. We went everywhere. The mall, Famous Footwear, two outlet malls in Lancaster. There was just nothing. Finally, on Labor Day - the day before school started - we tried going to the Franklin Mills outlet mall, where they have a Skechers outlet. There had been one in Lancaster too where the prices were discounted to a whopping $40 (wow, what a deal!) so I didn’t have much hope. But we went anyway.

And we found the impossible. They were exactly $24.99. And even better to Emily, they had things that lit up, and she had also wanted light up shoes. They were perfect and even came in her hard-to-find size 13. Better yet, I needed a pair of sandals, and it was buy one get one 1/2 off, so hers came down to $12.50. Talk about excited. Emily was almost beside herself with joy. And, to my pleasure, she seemed almost as stoked at the fact that we’d gotten them for only $12.50 as she was that she finally had a pair of Skechers. And as we left the store she sighed rapturously and said, “I love shoe shopping.” Oh, my.

You can see them in the picture above. She lay them out ready to wear the next day, the first day of school, all proud. She put them on in the morning and stomped her feet, looking at the lights going off, and went off proudly to school.

Then she came home at 3:00 with her heels rubbed raw because she didn’t wear socks with them, and she hasn’t been able to wear them since because they rub those spots. So after all that, she’s only worn them once. She says that after her heels heal she’ll wear them again. She still likes them.

She better still like them!!!!! I didn’t search two weeks for those suckers to only be worn one day!

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