Last Saturday, my nephews Jovanni (age 10) and Avery (age 6) arrived to spend a month with the Rev and G.P. (and, by association, me). This is a great thing for my family because the boys are for the most part well behaved and super fun. We have some childcare problems, however. Mom and I both work, and no one trusts Dad alone with the kids for more than a couple of hours due to an unfortunate incident a few years back. The G.P. took the boys to the park down the street. As they were returning home, toddler Avery started running, and tripped on the sidewalk. Dad (who missed the whole incident because he was looking at a plant) heard the crying child, and rushed to assess the injury. Jovanni (then 7) was leaping up and down in joyous excitement beside his prone brother. “AVERY DID A WHOLE FLIPPY, GRANDPA!” he whooped. Aside from a dented forehead (which mostly popped back into shape), Avery was okay, but the Rev decided Grandpa Daycare left something to be desired. This time, In order to make sure the children don’t die, Mom has arranged for them to attend art camp.
Yesterday, Pops and I went to pick them up. The road construction downtown caused the city to resemble the more bombed out parts of Baghdad.
“Do you think they spent all winter figuring out how to mess up traffic as much as possible?” asked the G.P.
“That would represent the only concerted and effective civic planning event in Corpus’ history,” I noted in response. I spent six months last year witnessing the city’s efficacy in areas of improvement. I was unimpressed with anything other than how green the grass was when they finally moved the porta-pooper out from under my crepe myrtle.
Forty-five minutes later, we arrived at the Art Center. Avery’s teacher, a small, strict woman with a long black braid, told me that he couldn’t wear his flip flops the next day. A little afraid of her (and kind of wondering if I should start checking the sky for plummeting real estate), I said okay without even asking why.
Avery tugged on my hand, “Ab, I can’t wear my shoes.”
“Why, Avox?” I asked.
“Because they cut my feet! We put on Band-Aids AND extra socks, but it still hurts.”
I looked at the poor kid’s ankles, and sure enough he had little lesions on both heels.
We delivered they boys, and informed the Rev of the problem. She showed me Avery’s Converse sneakers were designed in the most child chopping way possible. The medium high tops bent in towards the ankle at approximately a 70 degree angle. They were also definitely too small. New shoes were in order. I decided to brave Burlington Coat Factory, hoping that the crowds wouldn’t be too bad at 4 p.m. on a Monday.
“You need to take him with you,” said my Mom.
“No WAY!” I replied, fearing further kid transportation, especially since I’d just fed both kids large amounts of a frozen sugar syrup they called ‘Slushies.’ “I’ll just take one of his old shoes and find a slightly bigger replacement. It’ll be much quicker.”
“Not if you have to go twice,” replied the Rev, doubting my genius.
To the trenches
I made it to BCF in record time, and rode the escalator up to the children’s clothing department. I was pretty positive that this whole endeavor was going to be a huge success, despite the Rev’s warnings to the contrary — right up until I hit the children’s shoe section. What the crap, you guys? Avery’s old shoes were a size 12. I thought I needed to find a 12.5 or a 13. Wrong! For some strange, untenable, mysterious reason children’s shoes loop from a twelve to a 1. I only figured this out because I developed a “trust nothing” attitude when the numbers didn’t work, and just started measuring Avery’s old shoe against every single new one. After much cussing and confusion, I finally found a pair that looked like it would fit, and took it to the register.
“Hi,” I said to Valerie, the clerk, “um…do you have kids? Because I’m not sure about these shoes. Is size one bigger than size 12 here? I mean, it looks bigger, right? What’s with this numbering system? Is it a freaking clock? Is this some kind of guy thing, where if you’re lost in the wilderness you can tell time by your weird shoe size? Why don’t they just start at zero and go UP? You know, like ALL OTHER SIZES EVER IN THE ENTIRE HISTORY CLOTHING.”
“Um….I don’t have any kids,” replied Valerie (age 16), clearly unsure whether to laugh or cry. “Would you like to give me your phone number in case you need to return them?”
“Okay,” I replied, for the first time in my life not rattling off the digits to the dial-a-prayer hotline.
Fleet Feet FLASH Bonus Pack
Because I am a terrible person who absolutely did not want to have to try to figure out the demonic Dewey Decimal System of children’s shoe sizing a second time, I decided to make an enormous production when presenting Avery with his new shoes. I put the shoes on a sofa cushion, mimicking that hyper-intelligent Prince who decided true love was (at least in part) based upon the proper fit of footwear constructed of profoundly stupid materials. “Avox,” I called, “Get in here and try on your NEW SHOES!” He ran through the door and hopped on the couch. I pretended to put the shoes on the Rev’s much bigger feet. The kid didn’t get the Cinderella reference, and was impatient to try them himself. I gave up on fairy tales, and shoved his feet into the shoes. Thinking fast, still trying to prevent an “I HATE THESE SHOES” outburst, I said, “The lady at the store sold me an upgrade for these puppies. It’s a FLEET FEET FLASH BONUS PACK. She said it will make you go 200% faster! Better try it out!”
Avery’s eyes lit up. He leapt from the couch. “I’M GONNA RUN NOW!” he yelled, generously insuring that Rev and I didn’t miss a second. Off he went, chugging like a locomotive across the Rev’s slate tiled floors.
“You’re so fast!” we yelled.
“It’s like you’ve got rockets attached to your butt!”
Avery continued to run circles around my parents’ great room. “What if they’d been too big?” the Rev asked?
“Avery did another flippy?” I responded.
It looks like the G.P. isn’t the only watcher who needs watching. Wish the Rev some luck.