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A few months into the school year, my third grade daughter came home from school and immediately demanded that we go to the store and buy her new shoes. Since I only buy new shoes for my kids under dire circumstances like holes in the soles or toes sticking out, I smiled but said no.

Undeterred by my answer, my daughter pled her case by giving me the back story. Apparently, a girl who has been in her class for two years running has a remarkable shoe memory. This girl looked at my daughter’s sneakers, crinkled her nose and said in a voice designed to reverberate throughout the classroom, “You’re still wearing those raggedy old things?”

My daughter was mortified.

I had a few thoughts about the girl’s propriety, but kept a lid on them as best I could. I did, however, spend several minutes explaining the myriad of benefits to wearing shoes sporting a few scuff marks — not the least of which is that you don’t have to obsess about getting more scuff marks.

Unfortunately, my brilliantly-elucidated speech fell on deaf ears. Overcoming humiliation with mere logic is challenging at best.

The raggedy shoe incident had barely simmered down when my 16-year-old daughter suffered a shoe tragedy of her own.

Once she started earning her own money, my oldest daughter decided to collect quirky, funky and sometimes downright strange shoes. She scouts them out at thrift stores and online, spending anywhere from $5 per pair to an outlandishly high amount if the shoes are particularly cool.

Her shoes garner attention everywhere my daughter goes, to the point where friends have started requesting to borrow certain pairs of shoes to accessorize certain outfits. She was even handed a note from a relative stranger in one of her classes that read, “Your kicks are so fly!”

I had to ask her to translate.

As the ultimate frugal shoe shopper, this shoe thing drives me batty. But knowing that she saves half of her earnings and that I really shouldn’t micromanage how she spends the rest, I bite my tongue. For the most part.

During high school basketball season, my daughter often travels to neighboring cities for games. The girls change into uniforms and leave their duffel bags overflowing with travel clothes in the bleachers during games.

At one such game, my daughter put what was quite possibly her grooviest and definitely her most expensive pair of shoes into her duffel bag.

And never saw them again.

She was understandably upset. I listened and agreed with her when she ranted against someone who would actually do something like that, I told her how sorry I was and that it truly did suck.

Then, I couldn’t help but give her a smidgen of advice. Her kicks may have been TOO fly. In the future, perhaps it would be best to bring shoes of a less showy variety to ball games.

There are a myriad of benefits to wearing raggedy old shoes, I explained, including the fact that they are far less likely to get swiped at a game.

Since the theft, my daughter’s super cute shoes have remained safely in her closet during games. I take no credit — I’m pretty sure it was losing her fly-est kicks that convinced her.

Since I’m anything but obsessed with shoes, my daughters’ shoe issues have truly baffled me. Until just the other day, when I happened to pick up a copy of my mom’s newsletter from the year I was 15 years old.

Mom, the ultimate frugal shopper, was beside herself because I had just spent an outrageous amount of my own hard-earned money on one single pair of shoes. She didn’t dare record the amount of money I paid for them, stating, “You wouldn’t believe how much they cost, and I don’t either. I hope they last through the millennium.”

I had conveniently forgotten my very own shoe incident, but the details came back as I read.

That pair of shoes was a whopping $50 (adjusted for inflation, today’s amount would be much higher).

Incidentally, they lasted through college.


My daughter’s fly kicks (far left) on her 16th birthday.  Photo credit:  Allison Niccum, Moments Photography