Just when I think I have rid our home of all the plastic, high- heel princess shoes, another pair, or two, shows up on our doorstep. They are delivered new by unwitting aunts or neighbors or used in tattered paper bags by not so unwitting mothers of grown pre-schoolers. New or used they are all the same. Evil.
Princess shoes haunt me. They are a curse. They are a menace. They are loathesome. They are my nightmare.
Esther loves them. They make that delightful, "I'm a horse," clippety- clop noise on our wooden floors. They can be worn Madonna style with just your underwear, Posh Spice style with jeans or, of course, with any of a variety of frilly, poofy princess dresses.
Harmless fun, maybe, yet there is a dark side. They're dangerous. She almost inevitably ends up on the floor in tears when she tries to do anything other than pose while wearing them.
And they encourage sloth. Sometimes she resists going outside to play because she knows it means she needs to ditch the fancy shoes. She asked me to buy some real high-heels-- yes they make them in her size-- in the second hand store one day. “Those shoes are silly, you can’t run in them,” I said. "That’s okay, I don’t want to run,” she replied.
Her most recent crash took place while running through the kitchen. I found her splayed out across the tiled floor- eerily reminiscent of those haute couture ads in which well-heeled women appear to have been assaulted- shrieking in pain and disgrace. After I established she had not broken any bones, I tried real hard to resist a lecture but my ire won out and out it came. “That must have been scary and I am glad you are okay,"I said. "but I need to tell you that I HATE those shoes because they hurt you and I don’t want to see you get hurt.” I might as well have told her I didn’t like the boyfriend she brought home from college and was planning to marry because she was crushed. She shut herself in the bathroom and sobbed dramatically for fifteen minutes.
God I hope Birkenstocks come around again once Esther gets to high school. We met a woman who owns a shoe buisness in London and she said, "Once a shoe girl, always a shoe girl. She'll love high-heels forever." This woman throws shoe-parties akin to Tupperware parties for stay-at-home moms, or "yummy mummys" as they're called in England. Her best selling high heels are what she refers to as "car to bar" shoes. They're not meant to be walked in but will take you from the car to the bar stool where they can be admired as you perch there precariously in hopes there isn't a fire, terrorist attack, ex- boyfriend sighting or some other such reason that might necessitate fleeing. Yikes.
Though it's all hers, I suppose I have nurtured my daughter's obsession with high heels. She raided her first closet, not mine mind you, when she was just a year old. She ran back and forth from the closet to the mirror wearing various colored pumps with two-inch heels. We laughed so hard we almost wet our pants. Little did I know this was the first of many catwalk sessions. Then there was the rainy winter day we ended up spending an hour and a half in the shoe department at T.J. Maxx. By the time we left, Esther had made friends with three different women and had helped them pick out the perfect pair.
"Those ones are too rocky," she said, referring to the three-inch platform wedge sandals.
It was cute back then, but now that she is older it brings up issues. I guess I have been a bit too confident that the obsession would pass. But what if it doesn't? I also guess that in some ways I envy her comfort with her feminine self. I still feel a bit like a man in drag when I try to wear high-heels. Perhaps Esther could teach me a thing or two about being a woman. Does it have to hurt?