Shoes and Socks
Let it roll right off your shoulder
Don’t you know
The hardest part is over
Let it in
Let your clarity define you
In the end
We will only just remember how it feels
-- Rob Thomas "Little Wonders"
I went to Payless Shoe Source yesterday and explained my orthotic-related plight to the salesperson there. She nodded at me and went on to explain that they used to make shoes parents like me bought that accommodated the bulk of orthotics beautifully, but they were no longer available. After trying several pairs (I couldn't help but notice the boys' section paled in comparison to the gigantic display of princess-pink shoes for girls), we found one last pair of Air Walks, the shoes she had referred to. They were white with awful, goose poop-colored camouflage strips across the midfoot and two sizes to big for him in order to accommodate the hardware I would place inside. Camouflage on a 3-year-old. How appropriate. Would this little detail make his orthotics invisible? My high school marching band shoes were delightfully dainty compared to these. Six dollars. I accepted the shoes and drowned my disgust in purchasing a pair of black and tan slingback heels with bows on the toes for myself.
From there, I went next door to the sporting goods store. It wasn't open, so I sat in my Jeep and watched an employee come out with a push broom, running the bristles over the sidewalk and pretending a girl sitting in her vehicle staring at him was the most comfortable thing in the world. When the doors were unlocked, I gathered my plastic bag containing Erik's braces and hunted down another employee to assist me in locating children's soccer and baseball socks, the only socks that seem to have the length to protect Erik's skin from the plastic on his legs. I would have tried them before, but apparently infants don't normally suit up in team uniforms (like I would know). They were not previously available in Erik's size. I ended up with two pairs of all-purpose athletic socks in white.
As it turns out, the socks look a lot like thigh-high stockings on Erik, but they seem to stay up. He wore his new orthotics for an hour yesterday. I crammed his feet into the new pair of giant shoes, trying not to curse under my breath, fastened them as best I could, and set him in a standing position on the ground.
I began to laugh.
He just stood there with his legs slightly bent, looking up at me as if he was afraid he was going to float away. I reassured him that he would get used to them eventually. He tentatively put one foot in front of the other and made it across the living room two inches at a time. I couldn't help but think of the time I put a sweater on my cat and watched her try to walk in it. Erik stooped to pick up a toy successfully and seemed to be as comfortable as anyone would be with sections of stovepipe around the legs.
I was alone for most of the day yesterday. After dropping Erik off at school, I found myself with a sloshing bottle of Windex in one hand and a rag in the other. When I'm emotional, I clean. If you see me spritzing things with Windex, it's a positive sign. It's levels below angry vacuuming in terms of emotional distress. My roommate in college knew to stay miles out of my way when I was using a vacuum cleaner.
I was yanking food from the glass shelves of our refrigerator to make way for my mad cleaning spree when a Rob Thomas song came on the radio. I have heard this song a thousand times, but I never really listened to the words before. On Diagnosis Day, however, the words sunk right into my heart, and I smiled. I realize there is meaning in all of this, and sometimes I can catch a glimpse of it before it all fades into a big, dark mystery again. Once in a while, I can hear whispers that seem to be meant for me and me alone. Maybe I am going nuts.
You are doing the best you can. What you are doing is important.
Now that's what I call progress.