What’s the deal with kids shoes?
When we 30-somethings were kids, choices for shoes were pretty basic. In fact, “choices” is a bit of an exaggeration. Before the age of 6 or 7, I don’t ever remember choosing my shoes. My Mom would simply buy a pair and I would put them on. I have vague memories of going into a shoe store and having a shoe guy measure my foot on one of those cold metal things, but I certainly don’t remember a lot of shoe choices. It just wasn’t a big deal. Back then, you pretty much had basic looking shoes (maybe with a stripe or two) in nice solid colors with some laces.
It occurred to me the other day that shoe choices for kids have gotten out of control when my 6-year old son Michael was yet again searching for his much-often misplaced shoes. The conversation went something like this:
“Dad! I can’t find my Iron Man shoes”
“Where did you last have them on?”
“I don’t know”
“What’s wrong with your Spider Man shoes?”
“They’re not as cool”
“They only light up in 1 place instead of 3”
You’ve got to be kidding me. Shoes that light up? Shoes that have wheels? Shoes with super heroes on them? Maybe I was too busy actually playing outside as a kid, but I sure don’t remember these options. And I think I was a pretty happy kid – so having cool shoes with built-in disco balls doesn’t correlate to happy children in my book. And why is it limited to just kids? If these shoe options are so cool, why not have fluorescent work shoes with an imprint of the cast from Modern Family wrapped around them?
And what’s the deal with Velcro? I’m pretty sure Velcro was around back in my days as a kid, but I sure don’t remember being able to strap my shoes with Velcro in place of laces. What kind of message are we sending our kids when all they need to do is strap and go? Tying your shoes was one of the biggest moments in a kids life back when we grew up.
Cross one way. Then the other. Make a loop. Go back through. Tie tight.
The dependence on Velcro is dramatically affecting a child’s ability to seek independence in the form of tying one’s own shoes.
And yes, this shoe obsession is a big reason why we wrote “I Wish I Could Tie My Shoes” on the new Juice Box Heroes CD. Rick Springfield’s original 80s hit “I’ve Done Everything For You” was the perfect tune to create a parody about kids shoes (originally written by Sammy Hagar , by the way).
OK, I’m going back to my office now in my boring, black, lace-up shoes.