We bought Madison shoes for the upcoming school year. As you know, she is a big proponent of memory foam. This isn’t a problem because Skechers has decided that this is their niche in the shoe market; they simply make the most comfortable shoes ever which are just passable aesthetically. If you don’t care about branding at all, there’s no real reason not to put your foot into a pair which doubles as two slabs of butter. Anyway, Mad’s now at the age where there are less and less options available which do not require the ability to tie laces. Out of convenience, neither Lynnette nor I have forced the adoption of this skill upon her…until yesterday.
She was allowed a stylish pair, but also needed a pair for PE. The best options all featured laces. Madison seemed to grasp this and began coming up with reasons why all of them didn’t work. She didn’t like the color. It was too tight. Finally, when she said “I can’t really feel the memory foam,” I knew she was making excuses. “You’re going to get a pair with laces,” I said. “But I don’t know how to tie them,” she said. “You’re going to learn right now,” I said. We stood there for 20 minutes or so, first instructing then offering words of encouragement. I know Madison. I know that she impatient. I know that like me, she will always seek out the path of least resistance. That path is lined with velcro. When she finally tied the one shoe, Lynnette and I cheered. Madison folded into Lynnette’s shoulder in tears. “I don’t ever want to do that again,” she said. I don’t think she quite understands how tying shoes works yet. It was a difficult process to watch, but I felt obligated to let her deal with it on her own. She’s always been this way: easily frustrated, quick to find excuses. These are traits that I hope she grows out of. Still, no parent enjoys watching their child fail, even if its a petty failure, even if it is ultimately necessary.
Before we went to bed last night I made up a story for her that was an allegory for her shoe experience. It is among the best things I have ever come up with on the spot and I would like to share a version of it with you. You will find that I eschewed logic for a metric ton of in-jokes. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed making it up as I went along.
Sly, a brightly-colored orange fox with royal blue fur where all the other foxes had black fur, walked into a forest clearing. It was quiet and empty. “Where is everybody?” Sly said. He ran into the forest until he came to the tallest tree in all of the forest. “Owla?” Sly shouted. “You in there?” There was a rustling of leaves and soon a sweet voice was heard. “What do you want, little fox?” Owla asked. Owla was a wise owl with feathers in every shade of blue. From atop her tree, she could see to the very edge of the forest. “Have you seen Runny Bunny today?” Sly asked. “Who?” Owla said. “Runny Bunny,” Sly said. “Who?” Owla said. “I SAID RUNNY BUNNY!” Sly shouted. “Oh, Runny Bunny?” Owla asked. “Yeah,” Sly said. “Why, no, I have not,” Owla said. She shuffled her way to the edge of the branch. “But then again I’ve been snacking all morning,” Owla said. “Well, do you see Runny Bunny anywhere?” Sly asked. “Let me see,” Owla said. She jumped from the branch and flapped her mighty wings. Owla ascended to the top of the tree. Owla looked over the entire forest and did not see Runny Bunny. A few minutes later, she swooped down and landed on the orange and blue fox’s back. “I did not see Runny Bunny,” Owla said. “That’s funny,” Sly said. He looked at the sun in the sky. “Runny Bunny is usually up running and jumping around by now,” Sly said. “Why, yes, Runny Bunny hates sleeping!”
Concerned for their friend, Sly and Owla journeyed together toward Runny Bunny’s home. They found Runny Bunny sitting under the shade of a large tree. “There you are, Runny Bunny!” shouted Sly. “We’ve been looking for your everywhere!” Owla shouted. Owla took out a piece of ling hing mango from out of nowhere and took a bite. Sly stared at her and shook his head. “What are you doing here?” Sly asked Runny Bunny. Runny Bunny looked up with tears in her eyes. “I can’t run and I can’t jump!” Runny Bunny cried. “Why not?” Owla and Sly said at the same time. “Look!” Runny Bunny shouted. Runny Bunny stood and her long, loopy ears fell to the ground. “I can’t run or jump without tripping over my huge ears!” she said. “Well, what do you usually do with them?” Owla asked. “My mom or my dad tie up my ears for me in the morning,” Runny Bunny said. “But this time, they forgot,” she said. “I don’t see what the big deal is!” Sly said. “Just watch!” Runny Bunny said. Runny Bunny started to run, but tripped over her own ears. Runny Bunny got up and tried to jump, but stepped on her ears and never got off the ground. “I can’t do anything,” Runny Bunny said. She slumped to the ground and began to cry. “Can you tie my ears for me?” she asked Owla and Sly. “Oh, I won’t be able to grab onto your ears with my wings!” Owla said after taking a sip of Aloha Iced Tea. “Yeah, and I don’t think you can trust me,” Sly said. He shook his head. “Whenever I try to tie up my daughter’s hair, the hair always falls out!” “This guy over here,” Runny Bunny said. “What guy over where?” Owla asked. “Nevermind,” Runny Bunny said. “Hey, I think you’re going to have to tie your ears up yourself,” Sly said. “Yeah, and we’ll be right here with you!” Owla said, taking a bite out of a slice of cookie butter french toast.
Runny Bunny returned to the shade under the tree. She lifted her long, loopy ears with her arms, and tried to tie them. It was very hard for her because she couldn’t see what she was doing. Owla hovered above. “Take that bunny ear – hold it – now take the other bunny ear and wrap it around…” Owla said. But since Runny Bunny could not see the ears, she could not follow Owla’s instructions. “I give up!” Runny Bunny shouted. “You can’t quit!” Sly said. “Don’t you wanna run and jump like me?” he said. Sly took three big steps then tried to jump. “You didn’t really get off the ground,” Runny Bunny said. “Sure, I did!” Sly said. Runny Bunny laughed. “I can jump way higher than you!” she said. “Well, why don’t you show him,” Owla said. Runny Bunny started tying her ears again.
The sun sank in the sky. “I’m gonna go get lunch!” Sly said. “Can you get me something, too?” Owla said. Sly stared at her, shook his head, then disappeared into the forest. “I’m hungry right now, too,” Runny Bunny said, still trying to tie her ears. “You can eat after you finish tying your ears,” Owla said. “But you’ve been snacking all this time!” Runny Bunny exclaimed. Owla looked at Runny Bunny. Owla hooted, then put her Ziploc bag of chilled lychee away. A few moments later, Sly returned with a cheeseburger and a Coke. “Well?” he asked. “Well, what did you bring me?” Owla said. “You were serious?” Sly said. He took a sip of his Coke. “I thought you were joking,” he said. “Why would I joke about that?” Owla said. “YOU GUYS!” Runny Bunny shouted. Sly and Owla turned to look at her. “I think I almost got it!” Runny Bunny said. She pulled at the bunny ears, then slowly let them go. Her ears rested neatly on her head. “Yay!” Sly said. “You did it!”Owla said. Runny Bunny ran around the tree four times. She jumped over Sly and gave Owla a high paw. Runny Bunny jumped and jumped and jumped. “Watch out!” Owla yelled. Runny Bunny’s ears got loose and fell to the ground. Runny Bunny slipped on them and took a tumble to the ground.
“Are you alright?” Sly asked Runny Bunny. “No!” Runny Bunny screamed. She started crying. “It took me forever to tie my bunny ears! Now I have to do it all over again!” Sly shook his head. “But don’t you want to run and jump every day?” he asked. “Yes,” Runny Bunny said. “Then you’re going to have to tie your ears every day,” Owla said. “That’s so junk!” Runny Bunny said. “I just want my mom and dad to do it for me!” She picked up her ears, then threw them down. “Who?” Owla asked. “My mom and dad,” Runny Bunny said. “Who?” Owla asked. “I SAID MY MOM AND DAD,” Runny Bunny said. “Oh, oh, your parents!” Owla said. “Well, what’s going to happen if your mom and dad aren’t around to help you?” Sly asked. Runny Bunny sighed. “Okay,” she said. It took Runny Bunny four tries, but she did tie her ears up. “Wow! That was much faster than last time!” Owla said. “And you’re only going to get faster the more you practice,” Sly said. Runny Bunny jumped and ran and ran and jumped. “I did it!” she cried.
I ended it right there because it was getting late. I tried to hit the main lessons. “I know that story’s about us, dad,” Madison said. “WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?” I said with pretended shock. “Why would a fox be blue and orange and drink Coke? That’s you,” she said. “It’s imaginary, fiction,” I said. “And I know mem is Owla because she’s always snacking just like mom,” Madison said. “Yeah, thanks, Phil,” Lynnette said. “Well, then, who is Runny Bunny?” I asked. “Runny Bunny is me and her ears are my shoes,” Madison said. “Okay, you got me,” I said. “Tying my shoes is the worst,” she said. “Yeah, but you did it, right?” I asked. “Yeah, yeah, dad,” Madison said. “I did it.”