My boss has warned me not to get used to this kind of paycheck, the one with the commissions after the largest renewal period for subscriptions of the year. And in my mind, I know I should save it, every last cent, hoard it away for the impending future to cushion the many falls I'm sure I'll take.
But I wanted out of the house. It was the first Saturday I didn't have to work in two weeks. My family was all together for a stretch of time longer than six hours.
And I wanted to celebrate the best way I know how.
So we drove to the outlets.
I let my kids pick out pretty much whatever they wanted. A Captain America t-shirt that will only probably last this summer before he outgrows it? Sure. The too-big silver ballet flats on clearance? Why not, she'll grow into them anyway. Half-hour at the playground so smartly put in the center of the complex in the early afternoon sun while I sat over-layered for the weather, attempting in vain to hide the mess of eczema my shoulders, chest, and back have become? Of course.
We skipped a great deal of the stores that I usually might have perused -- and some were closed, wiped out of the store fronts but not off the maps just yet -- but while I was on the hunt for a few good items, I gained far much more joy letting my littles take charge of their wardrobes, letting their individual personalities shine a little more than my thrifty shopping usually allows.
And when we got to the Converse store, magically having a buy-one-get-one-half-off sale (even on clearance!), I let my children pick new shoes for themselves, only to be dismayed when Kiedis picked a pair from the toddler section.
They looked too small to me. He was insistent about the blue shoes and began taking the Chucks he had on, the ones I made him wear as opposed to the boot-esque ones he usually dons for outings, off of his feet and pulling at the laces of the shoes in the box.
I thought by trying them on, I could show him that they were too small, that I could reason with him.
Except they weren't too small. They fit, nearly perfectly.
Sure, a growth spurt will render them useless -- but the shoes I've had him wear for nearly half a year now, they are three sizes bigger than the ones he wanted in the store.
Maybe that's why he liked the boot-esque high tops and not as much the plush low tops. The extra height for the laces helped keep them on better.
I looked at Tova, concerned as well, and grabbed a smaller size of the style she'd picked out. And again, they fit far better than the shoes on her feet, the ones she constantly fell in.
I don't know what the crap happened with my brain, but both of my kids were wearing too-large of shoes and it was all my fault. I thought of the shoes I'd donated a few months ago, the ones that were probably also too big, and cringed. I thought they were too small -- why did I think they were too small? -- and there went shoes I probably could have put them back into in a growth spurt or two from now. The light wear and tear on them probably stemmed from the kids flopping about inside of them, not from their feet trying to escape them.
I hope there are some kids out there getting great use out of them. Because they were barely used.
So I bought the kids new shoes. And, as the deal couldn't be beat, I got a pair and even sprung for their dad to get a pair, too.
The kids proudly wore their new Chucks out of the store, the shoes they walked in wearing tucked away into the boxes in the shopping bag with the two adult pairs and two extra sets of laces for each kid. And I tried to find comfort in that I could just wash their current shoes and tuck them away for a later time, when they might actually really fit.
At home, I cleared out the winter shoes for the kids and laid out their new sneakers (along with the flip flops they'd picked out as well) along the top of the shoe rack, flanked by the two new pairs of adult shoes also awaiting their turns this season. I mused at how Kiedis prefers high tops while Tova likes low tops, wondering if I'd some how fostered that from some of their very first pairs of Chucks or not.
And I thought about the birth announcement I made for Tova, of four pairs of Chucks on our old stoop stairs, two black, two purple. Another pair of shoes at the door makes us now a family of four. Here I sat, almost four years later, still struck by the image of those four pairs of shoes lined up in a row -- my lavender low tops with teal rose print; Tova's black lows with a double-tongue of silver on top and purple furry cheetah print folded over purple laces; Kiedis' cushioned black high tops with a pillowy back in neon blue with fluorescent yellow piping and laces; Kyle's pre-faded red lows with subtle blue trim.
Sitting there, it was apparent how we'd all changed since then, our individual personalities more clearly on display in our choice of footwear. But still, it remained -- four pairs of Chucks at the door ...
I don't know how to end that, anymore.
I know I should have saved that money -- there's still a good amount of it left -- but the looks on their faces this morning as they excitedly got dressed in their new clothes and new shoes, the freedom I was able to afford them in those moments on Saturday, that was completely worth it.