Once upon a Shoe
The story begins with a shoe and ends with a shoe.
A shoe-all-around kind of story.
In the beginning was a word. Right?
In the beginning was a mess.
I don’t write in the beginning-middle-end kind of way, but rather in a story-as-a life kind of way.
Do you remember the beginning of your life?
Will you remember its end?
Will you get its point?
This story is like your own life, in order to get the point, you have to get to the end.
If you still don’t get the point, it is not the end.
People go to war not because of big disagreements.
People go to war because they can’t agree on petty things like what to wear and what not.
Occasionally Occasions Become Confrontations
My son, Mark and I have been fighting over what he should wear to his Graduation ceremony for a few months. In my opinion, an occasion calls for special attire, depending on the occasion, of course. Mark believes that everything other than sweatpants should never be worn by fashionable people like him. Because everything else is not comfortable.
He would wear his comfortable sweatpants until through their holes unsuspecting passers-by start admiring the other side of the universe. And even then, I have to throw them away while he is asleep.
Making Mark wear anything he doesn’t approve of is a battle long lost. Somewhere around the time when he was four.
We have tried a few times, failed and gave up. But there were no occasions of importance since then. We are a weird family leading, I would argue, an occasion-less life. However, this time I have made up my mind to stand my ground in a “patria or muerte” kind of way. No pasaran – The enemy won’t pass! – non-negotiable. For a non-negotiable, there was too much of back and forth: I would nag, nag, nag and he would just wear me out.
On Occasion Confrontations Become Education
Unfortunately, my position was weak because he had no clothes suitable for the graduation. I needed his verbal agreement before buying an outfit because stuffing Mark into anything he doesn’t approve of constitutes the 13th Labour of Hercules... I almost started strength training for the occasion until I realized that succeeding was not in my best interest. Very soon, too soon, I would argue, Mark will become strong enough to stuff me into outfits I don’t approve of.
I went back to the peaceful nag-nag-gotiable negotiation. I believe that one starts with the shoes, in other words, I was trying to get to the bottom of it. Mark believes that buying shoes he will wear only once is crazy just like his mother. Without winning a shoe-battle, there is no need to move up. No proper shoes, no dress pants.
I had only one option – his only pair – black-and-orange running shoes, not much to work with.
I went though his wardrobe and found almost nothing.
All his T-shirts had strategically distributed dirty spots and looked, I would argue, as if they went through a cruel in its senselessness wrinkling machine, designed especially for the occasion.
The only suitable T-shirt was orange and, it didn’t have the “Mark Had Its Way with It” stamp simply because he refused to wear it from the moment I bought it. Good quality, good brand, but my fashion expert said that it was stupid just like his mother. The pants... My mother and I found one pair that was “it will do” with the T-shirt and the shoes and we crossed our fingers... He finally relented.
Though I am not exactly sure, that his plan was not just to stop the bickering and do as he pleases when the day comes. So I snatched the outfit and hid it away so he wouldn’t “accidentally” misplace it. On the day before graduation, for the practice – Mark decided to wear his Graduation outfit which made me suspect that he actually liked it. But I said it wasn’t such a good idea. Mark said, “Don’t worry. I won’t get it dirty.” Even though my reason was entirely different, I jumped to the opportunity – all relationships between Mark and clean clothes do not last longer than a few hours. If that.
A feeble glimpse of hope... Of course, he did not listen. Of course.
What’s the Big Deal?
No sooner than the outfit was on, it was off.
- What’s wrong? What’s happened?
- The pants are squeezing.
- What do you mean they are squeezing?
- Well, you know. They are not comfortable. I’m not going to wear them.
- What do you mean? I asked you to try them on beforehand so if they don’t fit I’ll have enough time to buy something else.
- What’s the big deal? It’s not important. It’s only 6th grade.
I was upset. While Mark was in school, my mother and I were trying to come up with a contingency plan. What adjustment could be made so late in the game? What other options did we have?
I found a couple of other pairs of pants.
When Mark came home, we, by fair means or foul, made him try other pants. Trying other pants made him say that the original pair ceased to squeeze. Magic.
But no battle is won, until the fat lady sings and she has not obliged just yet.
What everybody wears can be downright scary
When in Rome Do as Romans Do
On my crusade against Questionable Attire, I was doing some reconnaissance. I asked Mark’s friend, a sweet and conventional boy, Michael, what he would wear to the Graduation Ceremony.
- What everybody wears, I guess.
- And what will they wear?
- I don’t know. I will see at the graduation.
- But that’s way too late. You should make a decision beforehand.
- Then I will ask them.
- If you do, could you please let me know?
Michael sounded like a conservative, conventional and practical kid. Sweet and adorable, one would argue.
With Mark, no such luck.
Even if Michael asked around, he kept his findings strictly to himself. After some time, I asked him again. He said he would wear a tuxedo.
I thought it was highly unlikely. Michael, on the other hand, was set on a tuxedo and told me where to rent it and how much it would cost. A practical kid.
With Mark, no such luck.
In the end, at the Graduation ceremony, Michael was impeccably dressed. He wore a suit and was immensely handsome. Adorable, I would argue.
In the throes of my struggle with Mark and his fashion choices, I did not think much about what I should wear.
The solution came from our sweet and conventionally conservative character. Mark came home and said that Michael suggested I wear a wedding dress.
A Wedding Dress?
Had it come from Mark, I would not have flinched. I would have paid no attention, none whatsoever. Compared to his suggestion that I should go with a pack of frozen cranberries pressed to my cheek, a wedding dress seemed like an improvement.
Even though, those are not mutually exclusive choices, I would argue.
Coming from Michael, it was amusingly adorable, not to say adorably amusing.
- What a marvellous idea! I love to be the center of attention and I would have not hesitated even for a moment, but... You see, Mark, I just won’t fit into my wedding dress.
- Do you mean you still have it?!
- Funny, isn’t it?
- Was it all puffy?
- No, it wasn’t. Your grandma and I made it ourselves.
- Can I see it?
The day was taking an unexpected turn. Mark was surprised to find out that I still had my wedding dress and I was surprised that he actually wanted to see it. Mark, who is not interested in family’s history? Like EVER?
So, capitalizing on this rare opportunity, I obliged. I took the dress out of the wardrobe and spread it out on the bed. I haven’t done so in ten years. I had somewhat mixed feelings about it, among which was the fear that in the box it was gradually becoming all yellow...just like Mark’s mother.
No, it wasn’t turning into anything it wasn’t originally. It was almost pristine.
- Oh, it is so beautiful! If you die, I will keep it.
- Darling, it’s not “if”, it’s “when”.
Mark even asked to see the wedding pictures. That was a day to remember. It turned into an occasion of its own. We got emotionally connected to the past and each other. I don’t remember what we wore, red or white, but the whole scene with the wedding dress as the centerpiece is still vivid in my eyes.
Just when I think that I would rather exchange Mark for Michael and have a conventionally normal child, Mark would do something that would make me reconsider and postpone the exchange.
Getting to the Bottom of It
The next day, Mark wore what I asked him to (not without saying I had no sense of fashion, of course). But I had no longer felt victorious. The wedding dress story made the petty fighting over what to wear seem so inconsequential.
When interrogated, Michael denied that he said anything about a wedding dress. However, later Mark admitted that it all started with their teacher, Mrs. Anderson. She shared with the class the story of her wedding, how she planned to wear a suit and ended up wearing a dress.
It sounded painfully familiar. Just a few weeks ago, a friend, a bride-to-be told me a similar story: she planned to have a small reception and then she found a dress. No, she found THE DRESS. “When you see it, you know.” You do? I would argue that when people refer to finding the One, they don’t mean a better half, they mean a one of a kind fully complete dress that always comes with the story.
I would even argue that where there is a dress, there is matrimony. And the dress probably comes first. In my story, it did.
What's next? Colour Confusion
So, there is a new chapter to my wedding dress story. First making the dress, then the wedding, then my mother’s attempts to give it away and me standing my ground in a “patria or muerte” kind of way. Now it’s “If You Die” chapter. What’s next?
Next comes a second wedding dress. For the second wedding, which is nowhere in sight, no decisions have been made due to the absence of prospective groom except for one. My second wedding dress will be red.
Yes, there is no groom in sight, but if I want to be the center of attention (I do), wearing red is more effective than wearing white. Red always looks festive no matter what the occasion, I would argue.
A carefully selected red dress may very well attract a Husband Number Next.
In the Matrimonial Context
This Was My Inspiration
The echo of the word we place
Escapes our best anticipation,
And we receive appreciation
Much as the blessedness of Grace
— Fyodor Tyutchev
Will You Marry Me?
For better or for worse, a marriage proposal is a special occasion which is hard to forget. The echo of the word “yes” or “no” is a long one. But the rest of them? The words we say, the words we hear, the words we write? How will they echo?
“We are not given to foretell...”
What we are given to foretell is that unless we place our words in writing we will most likely forget them.
And that’s how I ended up writing this story. I wrote it as a gift for Mrs. Andersen. I did so on an impulse and against my better judgment. Yes, I thought it was a crazy idea.
So what? Was it a gift for Mrs. Andersen, a gift for Mark or me? Now, two years later, I can say that writing this story and the story about the story and everything that came out of it was the best memory of that year.
What's Wrong with Weird Al?
The Graduation Number Next
There is another graduation upon us, but somehow I don’t care red or white nor am I ready for a fight. I don't feel it will be a special occasion. There is no story yet unless Mark delivers on his promise to dress like Weird Al. I would not be surprised. Where does he get all these weird ideas?
Everybody Thinks We Are Sisters
Like Mother Like Son
I definitely blame Russians, who are not only red, but just plain weird. They claim that being weird equals being artistic, but I would argue. I would argue and then wonder why Mark is so argumentative and wins most of the time. Secondly, I do blame myself in anticipation for punishment for all my maternal crimes.
I will be punished for all the consequences, for failures and successes alike.
For all of them.
Mother, you are so weird. Other parents worry about grades and you worry about looks. You want me to be fabulous. But I already am.
In the Beginning Was a Mess, Right?
In this story in the beginning was a shoe. Only after all of these complicated developments I remembered that the very first assignment Mark got from Mrs. Andersen was to write a story “Once upon a Shoe”. I thought it was a crazy idea, Mark did not know where to begin and we ended up writing it together – me teaching him the very basics of writing and then forcing him to memorize the story for presentation which he did reluctantly. But both were a success.
Celebrate Your Successes
Mrs. Andersen always told us, “Celebrate your successes!” and we did.
Mark stayed at home glued to his gift –a new electronic device and I went to tango in a smashing red dress.
Only my celebration went awry -
I went to tango
Lost a shoe
There met King
and was proposed to.
(True story, but for another time).
Try not to laugh. Or cry. Or both
Coming to the Promised Point
So, in the beginning was a shoe. Right?
For me, in the beginning was a blur. I simply don’t remember beginnings – middle – ends. I remember a point here, a point there...
My Words Came Back to Me
I said something somewhere to someone and, or course, lost and forgotten it.
But someone somehow for some reason kept my words and gave them back to me.
"We are not given to foretell."
Yes, indeed, we are not.
But we have a right to write
And write we should.
But for my son I do not wish conformity,
I do not wish my bumpy journey;
I want him to know who he is, what he is, what he is good at and
that at any rate he can succeed.
I do believe that every child is creative, talented, capable, and unique.
All our children need for blooming are the right conditions, love and patience.
No food or drink allowed while watching this video.
Weird or Artistic? That Is the Question
Between Beginnings and the Ends
It doesn't matter
Left or right
It doesn't matter
Red or white
If you remember
Dance and Write.
© 2017 kallini2010
kallini2010 (author) from Toronto, Canada on April 03, 2017:
Thank you, Flourish, for your comment.
Exactly. Whatever I teach him, comes right back at me. Not all of that is bad, it's the question of timing. If I taught him something two years ago and forgot and now it is coming back to me, there is very little I can do.
Shoes continue being an issue. If your daughter refusing wearing coats, my son refuses to wear normal (I take that back), weather-appropriate shoes. Throughout the year he wears these Converse shoes. When I was young, these kind of shoes were for phys-ed and hiking, not for being hip.
I see some similarity between our children, the gender is different and they seem to be apart by 3 to 4 years (mine is turning 14 this year). So far, he says that he is proud of me. I don't believe him. Why proud? "Because no one else can annoy the hell out of others by putting them into their place with your smart talk, your damn vocabulary and synonyms!" Something like that - I really should write that down (in order to embarrass him later). I forget to write because he begins impersonating me how exactly it all looks and I keep laughing for half an hour.
I still remember your article about embarrassing your teens.
There is some stuff coming back that is not bad. I was teaching him compassion and it was a long road and I did not think I succeeded just yet. Today he came home from school and told me about his team weird ideas for a STEM project (basically, half of characters die from a nuclear explosion). He does all the drawings and teaches them compassion.
That was the best part of my day.
I don't know if you noticed in the "Colour Confusion" section, the HP bar colour scheme is hilarious.
- If you are to marry again, what will be the colour of your wedding?
- Yellow, it is.
Sounds like life.
FlourishAnyway from USA on April 02, 2017:
We all get what's coming to us in the end. There's nothing like having a random opinion and just sticking to it because you can. He sounds like quite the fun teen to parent. I go through these type of arguments with my daughter (who is now 17). Her steadfastly held habit is no wearing of winter coats. She'd rather die of frostbite than get caught in a winter coat. Her school bus driver assumed she was impoverished and couldn't afford a winter coat, but I had to explain that no, she was just being difficult. I sure didn't want one donated to her! At least she's not wearing those sheer leggings like the men in that video are. I tell her to pick her battles, then I hear that quoted right back to me at inopportune moments. One day they'll have mini-me's and it will be clarifying.
kallini2010 (author) from Toronto, Canada on January 17, 2017:
Yes, Martie, I feel it already.
Martie Coetser from South Africa on January 17, 2017:
The continuous interaction at this stage of mother-son's life is precious. Mark my words, it doesn't last forever, and you will miss it :)
kallini2010 (author) from Toronto, Canada on January 16, 2017:
Thank you, Martie! Again!
Yes, we all get our punishment for being ourselves. But maybe, maybe - our punishments shape us more than our rewards.
You've got through adolescence of your children - you have sailed in the rough seas - you know what it takes to see your own mistakes.
I pray for compassion.
Martie Coetser from South Africa on January 16, 2017:
Without the shadow of a doubt, Mark takes after his mother, and it truly takes a tremendous lot of energy to handle a child who takes after you.
My hat off to Mark's mother and grandmother!
And also to Mark who doesn't even allow his friends to change his mind. However, he will get his 'punishment' as well as his rewards :)
Loved the read and the humor :)