The Squeeze

Greta has shoes. This should come as no surprise since she is a “foo foo” loving girl who resides in fun country with friends because there is no better place to be. Greta’s shoes are like the crumbs of Hansel and Gretel. They tell where all she  has been, including the neighbor’s trampoline across the street and the dip in our driveway that fills with water when it rains. She finds puddles irresistible.

Her brothers find some hope – that she still plays with squishy toy animals, including lizards, snakes (one of her favs) and marine creatures. She even has a plastic cockroach she cannot part with. But the shoes! The shoes drive the boys nuts because they are everywhere, except where they are supposed to be – on the shoe shelf.

There was a clear and distinct plan. The top shelf was for Michael, the middle shelf was for Greta and the floor level was for Matthew. Each child had a place to store their shoes that was close to the front door. This made getting out the door for school so much easier as shoes got lost in their rooms, and still do. But Greta’s shoes were never where they were supposed to be and always in the way. One morning, we even had to walk across the still moist grass to the neighbor’s yard to retrieve shoes from under the trampoline.

I grabbed a pair of Greta’s shoes yesterday and determined to put them where they belong with a greater resolve to get her to follow the plan! When I took her little pink floral slip-ons to the shelf, I discovered there was no room. This has happened before and we ask Greta to put just the shoes she wears most on the shelf. I looked for a pair of shoes to switch them with and found none. The boys’ shoes had squeezed Greta’s right off of the shelf. This was part of the reason why her shoes were everywhere!

Michael’s work boots, two pair of sneakers plus a set of cleats. Matthew’s moccasins and sneakers. The boys also each had a nice polished pair of shoes for church. My boys have big feet and they had put the squeeze on Greta’s dainty shoes. All this time we were all blaming Greta for not putting her shoes on the shelf, but the reality was the boys and their shoes had squeezed her out!

I lured Michael into admitting that Greta’s shoe situation was out of control and told him to look at how silly it all was on the shoe shelf. He went, expecting to be vindicated about girls and shoes, but came away with an oops on his face. He admitted that boy shoes had obviously taken over. Lesson learned. It is obviously time for a shoe rack just for Greta. It is also time to check commonly held stereotypes and personally investigate a situation. I’m glad I took the time to see what it was like for Greta to fulfill the expectations we had for her and her shoes. I saw for myself the struggle she has had. It’s time for change.

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