White Shoes

Saturday, 7 March 2009

The un-ending, mind-bending battle with BJ’s dirt

My five-year-old son has a white shoe obsession. Nike, Adidas, Puma, Lacoste, Converse. All good, so long as they’re white. Blue will not do. Nor will grey. Brown? Forget it. And red? Ha ha hee hee ha ha ho!

Now, normally such an obsession would not be problematic in any family’s life, but when you add five-year-old-outdoorsy-boyness to the open slather of grime on Beijing’s streets, it’s a whole different story for the white shoe brigade. The squeaky clean, blindingly luminescent sneakers I bring home from Ya Show are destined to a fate worse than dog dander once they’re strapped to those dirt-destined feet.

I kid you not – brand new, shiny shoes at 8am. Dog-eaten, toe-ripped, stinky, shoddy, charcoal-smeared foot sacks by 4pm. No wonder the Chinese take their shoes off upon entering the house. Very very wise.

I probably manage to stretch these mucky foot sacks to about a month or two before tossing them in the garbage with the socks that seem to disintegrate on contact. I’ve tried many different tactics to keep them looking part-way presentable for school including a risk-laden tumble in the washing machine. FYI – this does work quite well, but expect the life of the shoes to be cut dramatically once they’re back on those pesky, adventuresome feet. I’ve even eyed off the scrunchy plastic bags one slips over the feet… maybe we could start a new trend on the streets of BJ.

So, yes. Black or navy shoes would be helpful. Sensible, even. But since when did “sensible” reside comfortably in any sentence that also includes the word “parenting”? Grey would also be great. I’ve hunted Beijing and beaten it black and blue for some black and blue shoes my son might deem worthy of his feet. But no. White it is. Oh how I pine for a pair of shoes that might hide the muck for more than a day, for more than a week, for more than a month, or even more! How I pine to drastically shave down my shoe-seeking visits to Ya Show – I’m quite literally and reluctantly a VIP at my kids shoe supply stall.“Nin hao! Hui lai le ma?” they sing sweetly – she’s back! ker ching ker ching!

But it’s no good. He won’t bend.

We’ve also tried bribery, trickery and God forbid – reasoning with our son – over this crazy shoe thing. We’ve tried giving him Choice. We’ve tried reverse psychology. We even tried banning white shoes in the house altogether (it was an ugly, ugly time). It’s been a distressing, emotion-racking, mind-bending challenge – one that I know I am not going to win. I guess a five-year-old obsession is just too tough to crack and a wise mother knows how to pick her battles.

So… it may be time to wave the white shoe… er, flag.

I’m off to Ya Show. Ker ching.

First published on the City Weekend Beijing website.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...