With my eldest daughter going into P3 and my only son starting P1 in a week’s time, it was time to make the same pilgrimage to Clarks as many parents before us.
Literally before us because we are ridiculously disorganised.
In my typical optimistic style, I insisted on making it a “whole family” day out. I suppose I wasn’t yet ready to give up on the idea of us someday heading into town as a family; no one occasioning grievous bodily harm on a sibling, no one shouting “BUM CHEEKS!!!!!!!” at a passing stranger, maybe even brave a coffee shop together.
We Made It!
5 hours, 3 toilet trips, 1 located missing sock, 2 new tops and a nappy change after making the decision to head off to town for school shoes, we arrived in town.
The shoe shop we chose to visit has shunned the modern conveniences of automatic doors. Why have automatic doors when you can sever people’s limbs with an over-zealous spring door?
Trying to negotiate a non-automatic door with a buggy and 2 buggy-orbiting older children is trickier than you would imagine. Husband did make a conscious effort to hold the door open but had to let it slap back in my face (so chivalrous) in order to scramble after our feral son who had ran ahead and was sniffing the shoes.
So I resorted to bashing my way into the shop by using the buggy as a sort of battering ram to open the door. (Negative Nancys take note that no babies were brain damaged in the bashing.)
The Shoe Shop
We made it in and the scene before me was quite terrifying. There were multi-level rampaging children everywhere I turned. Some were face down on the floor, some were running amok amongst the Van Dals, while others had confused the brightly coloured seating for soft play and were launching themselves off it.
I did actually fear for my safety and, making the error of glancing at a nearby price label, also feared that we would need to remortgage.
Our kids love a bit of chaos so they were right at home and got stuck in.
4-year-old branched out in his shoe sniffing fetish to include low-to-mid heels and 6-year-old made a beeline for the Lelli Kellys (definitely remortgaging). Obviously there followed a tirade of whinging when we had to explain that shoe sniffing was socially unacceptable and that pumps with brightly-coloured sequins and glitter were not regulation (or within budget).
Eventually we hunted down an assistant; a bustling no-nonsense woman came hurtling at us wielding a foot measuring device as though it were a weapon and wearing a “happy to amputate to get my measurements if needs be” look on her face.
I think our son picked up on her stern demeanour because he was definitely more obliging than usual (this woman had good game I’ll give her that).
The Big Reveal
Everything was coming along rather nicely until it was time for “current shoe” removal.
The big reveal of our son’s manky sock.
Although fresh on this morning, it was blackened already from a quick shoeless jog around the house prior to getting into the car and had a sticky cornflake dangling off it by a hair.
Didn’t faze no-nonsense Nora though (she’s bound to have seen worse, right?)
Quick as a wink she had my son measured up and went thundering into the mystical magical place known as the storeroom. I have vivid memories of being intrigued by the back room of a shoe shop as a child.
I had conjured up images that elves were hard at work back there (obviously I realise now that it’s probably Dave and some pallets).
No-nonsense Nora reappeared in no time at all with a “selection” of school shoes. I use the term “selection” very loosely. It was basically 5 pairs of black school shoes that all looked pretty much identical to the untrained eye. Wasn’t about to make my feelings known to Nora mind you.
The customary “take a wee walk in those and see how they feel” passed off as peacefully as you would hope any walk in Northern Ireland could and soon we were released out onto the street again, blinking as our bewildered eyes adjusted to the daylight and breathing in the heady scent of exhaust fumes.
A Moment for Reflection
By this stage, our youngest daughter was crying from having been confined to her buggy for a whole hour and our eldest two were hyper from the shoe shop mayhem. My coffee shop idea was a distant memory and my husband was looking a little pale from having had his bank account lightened to the tune of almost £100 by the time we had purchased school shoes for both kids.
But there we were, our little completely bonkers family.
And as I walked to the car with that little box of new school shoes under my arm I realised that just 3 short years ago I had taken my baby to the very same shop to buy his first little pair of shoes. That little unsteady toddler was growing into the finest little man I could ever dream of.
My precious boy is so ready to start school and now he’s got his new shoes to help him step bravely in through those big doors on 1st September. As for Mummy?
Not so ready.