Last week I talked about how much I hate clothes shopping for myself, but shopping for Sarah Kate? I might hate it even more. Lots of moms of thirteen year old girls probably hate it, as this age is when they want to make their own choices (and sometimes we may not approve of those choices), but that’s not why I dislike it. I dislike it because it’s a lot of work.
For as long as she’s been wearing braces (i.e., most of her life), I’ve hated when we had to buy shoes. Every time she gets a new set of braces we head for the store to try to find shoes that not only fit over the braces, but also doesn’t look like clown shoes, aren’t likely to cause her to trip, and seem sturdy enough to hold up to the beating the braces inflict.
Shoe shopping has NEVER been fun.
For three or four years straight, she wore the exact same style of Nikes, in increasingly larger sizes. They were the go-to shoes for her through the preschool years. As she got older things got trickier – we had to take what we could get. It wasn’t unusual to see me sitting on the floor of a shoe store pulling insoles out of a variety of styles. The good thing about kids’ shoes, though, was I could always find a Mary Jane with a strap to wear with dresses, and for a time she was strong enough that she could wear shoes without braces occasionally.
But now we’re in the big leagues.
Although her feet are a little smaller than mine, with the braces she wears a size larger than I do, so she is officially in women’s shoe size territory. I thought our options were limited before, but now? There’s almost nothing for her. Fortunately, she loves Chuck Taylors (and they work with braces!) so that’s what she wears almost exclusively – the custom pair we ordered her for Christmas are fantastic because they have zippers for easy on and off.
Fortunately for us, Converse are in vogue now (WOOT!) You even see young girls wearing them with dresses, lucky for us. But sometimes Chuck Taylors just won’t work for the occasion – for instance, band concerts.
For the holiday band concert, Sarah Kate had to have a black dress and black shoes. It wasn’t being judged, so we asked the band director if she could wear her black Converse (No problem!). At the state band assessment a couple of months later, though, the band were to be judged not just on how they sounded, but how they looked, and the Converse just wouldn’t do. She needed hose and black dress shoes.
Sarah Kate ended up wearing her braces and Converse over the hose on the trip over and back, changed briefly into the black dress shoes we had previously purchased for the Mardi Gras dance that she couldn’t walk (or dance) in, and then changed back when the performance ended. That meant one more thing to carry and the braces, of course, ripped the hose.
Also, she doesn’t have a lot of shoes.
Because it’s such a pain to find shoes that work, she has three pair of Converse, the black dress shoes, some Chaco sandals for the beach, and…that’s it. Last week, I was preparing to order her another custom pair of Chucks for summer, but the double zip style don’t appear to be available anymore. 😥 What I was able to do, though, was take her existing un-zippered pairs to a local shoe shop to have zippers added…which left her with only one pair of “real world capable” shoes for the time being.
I should have checked the calendar.
On Monday afternoon around 4:00, after drafting 90% of this post and one hour before I was to take Sarah Kate to a show choir performance, I realized she needed the black Converse to wear with her show choir outfit – one of the pairs of Converse that were at that moment ten miles away at the shoe shop.
Sigh… So off I raced to “borrow” the shoes for the night with promises to return them first thing in the morning so they could finish the contracted work on time. In terms of the “look” required, her black dress shoes would have worked, but she couldn’t wear them because she can’t do the choreography in them (or, for that matter, stand for any length of time).
Shoes will be a challenge forever.
Her choices have always been limited, and have only grown more so since she’s moved into the adult section. She can’t wear shoes with a heel of any kind, any shoe without some sort of strap (such as a ballet flat), and she can’t wear boots or even slip-on athletic shoes unless they have a perfectly placed zipper because she can’t bend her ankle (and therefore can’t get the boot on). So it’s looking like Converse for her – with after market zippers that cost as much as the shoes themselves – for the foreseeable future.